Mozilla announces Firefox app launcher for Android – but will it be another Facebook Home?

Mozilla has announced the release of a home screen replacement “app launcher” for Android devices, co-developed by tech start-up EverythingMe.

The new app launcher was unveiled during the InContext 2014 conference in San Francisco, which is looking at the use of context-sensitive mobile platforms and apps.

A contextual mobile launcher uses real time information, such as time and location, to provide context-sensitive information to users.

In a statement, Mozilla says the new launcher will be integrated with its Firefox for Android web browser.

“Firefox Launcher for Android makes it easy to discover the content you want in any moment and is optimized for the way you use your phone.

“The app integrates the contextual adaptive app search from EverythingMe with the Firefox for Android Web browser to offer users a personalised and customizable Web experience that is fun and intuitive.”

In its statement, EverythingMe explains how its technology uses a range of techniques to deliver context-sensitive information to users.

“[The launcher] delivers the right apps, contacts and information to the home screen, exactly at the right place and time. Whatever a person is into, wherever they are, they’ll get personalized suggestions that match their interests and lifestyle.

“Our algorithms combine machine learning, statistical modelling, and domain knowledge expertise to identify specific life scenarios. Within these contexts we match users’ needs with specific content on their phones, as well as native and web apps.”

The announcement comes as Mozilla expands beyond the Firefox web browser into creating software platforms for a range of different devices.

Last month, it announced plans to expand its Firefox OS operating system to dedicated web PCs and tablets, as well as smartphones and smart TVs, in an ambitious bid to expand the web-based platform.

In a high-profile announcement at CES, television giant Panasonic announced it is using Firefox OS, rather than Google TV, to power its smart TVs.

In a separate statement at the time, Mozilla announced a partnership with low-cost computer maker APC, which is developing an entry-level web based computer based on Firefox OS.

However, while many Android smartphone makers ship their devices with customised launchers, such as Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, many users are wary of shifting to third-party launchers.

Last year, Facebook released its Facebook Home launcher for Android.

One year later, fewer than 5 million users have downloaded Facebook’s interface through Google Play, with more than half of all reviewers giving the app a rating of just one or two stars.

The Firefox launcher is still in development, with Mozilla promising more updates once development is finished and the app is ready for beta testing.


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