It has been a long time in coming, but Firefox for iOS is no longer just a pipe-dream. A Mozilla blog post has confirmed that a version of Firefox for Apple's platform, which will cater to the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, is on its way, and is about to enter a "limited" beta.
The battle of the browsers at desktop level is one that is fiercely contested. Apple's Safari, the de facto choice on Mac, has long battled Internet Explorer, Microsoft's outgoing browser for Windows. Google Chrome has, in a comparably short space of time to the rest of the field, made considerable strides, but Firefox has remained a permanent fixture despite the stiff competition.
Mozilla's much-loved browser has been noticeably absent from the App Store, although this fact has been largely beyond the control of the developers behind it. The restrictive nature of the iOS platform has meant that, for the most part, Mozilla has been unable to deliver a browsing experience on iOS anywhere near what can with, say, Google's Android.
Rather than allow a crippled husk of Firefox to hit the App Store, Mozilla has instead opted not to release a version for iOS before now, but feels that thanks to Apple's less stringent policies on what developers can achieve on the latest iOS 8, now's the time to finally bring Firefox to iPhone and iPad.
In its blog post, Mozilla implies that Firefox won't be as full-on as many may be hoping, but seemingly has enough to work with as it prepares for this beta:
We want to bring Firefox to every language, platform and device possible. Although we can’t bring the full Firefox experience and rendering engine to iOS due to the restrictions, we saw an opportunity with the latest improvements and tools in iOS 8 to begin development of a Firefox experience for iOS.
You may have used a beta build of Firefox in the past, but thanks to the rules on how Apple handles the testing system, this one's not going to be a wide-open free-for-all. In fact, despite the Firefox team having worked hard on the development of the iOS app "over the past few months," the vast majority of interested parties won't be able to see it until it's ready to be submitted.
Given the length of time it has taken for Firefox to reach the iTunes Store, though, a few more weeks / months won't hurt, and even if Firefox for iOS can't be as feature-rich as the Android edition, Mozilla's experience in the browsing business means that it'll surely beat most of the third-party offerings currently available to those running Apple gadgets.
Are you looking forward to using Firefox for iOS?