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Mozilla fleshes out Firefox OS simulator features

The nonprofit organization is trying to give programmers better tools for writing Web apps for its mobile operating system.

Mozilla's Firefox OS simulator is a Firefox add-on that lets people test their software without an actual phone.
Mozilla's Firefox OS simulator is a Firefox add-on that lets people test their software without an actual phone. Mozilla

Mozilla is at an awkward stage with Firefox OS: it wants its brand-new mobile operating system to attract developers, but there are very few phones available in the real world. To bridge the gap, the organization offers a phone simulator, and on Thursday, it updated the Firefox OS simulator to version 4.

Among the new features in the software, which is an add-on to the Firefox browser for personal computers, according to a blog post by Firefox OS developer advocate Angelina Fabbro:

• The ability to simulate touch-screen events with mouse clicks.

• A style editor tool that lets programmers create and test CSS formatting.

• The ability to test whether an app properly generates the receipt generated when an app is downloaded from the Firefox Marketplace.

• The ability to completely reset an app by typing Ctrl-R on Windows and Cmd-R on OS X. The command will wipe out all locally stored information.

Firefox OS runs Web apps on Mozilla's Gecko browser engine, so a lot can be simulated using the desktop browser. The simulator only goes so far, though. It can't be used to test some features that need a real phone, such as seeing how responsive a game app is when a person tilts the phone.

Mozilla's operating system has just begun arriving in the real world as Telefonica and now Deutsche Telekom have begun selling Firefox OS phones in Spain and Poland, respectively. They'll be expanding into other countries including Hungary, Greece, Venezuela, and Brazil, while other carriers including Telenor are expected to follow suit, but Firefox OS faces serious competition from the incumbent powers of the mobile market, Apple's iOS and Google's Android.