Mozilla turns Firefox Android homepage into content hub
The latest Firefox for Android beta focuses on developer tools, but one could have big ramifications by turning the browser's homepage into a platform called Firefox Hub.
Seth RosenblattFormer Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
The new Firefox for Android beta tips a bit of its hand toward Mozilla's plans for staying relevant as the world goes mobile.
Firefox 31 for Android delivers a new location in the browser for add-ons to integrate, in a way that's not really possible on Firefox for desktops. Called Firefox Hub, the new API allows developers to build standard Firefox add-ons that add panels to the Firefox homepage that you see when you open a new tab.
Already there are half a dozen panels you can add, including Instagram, Pocket, Wikipedia, and of course, Cat Facts. To access a panel, swipe to the left or right after opening a new tab. Login credentials can be added through the Firefox add-on management screen.
The Firefox Hub API follows another new feature that debuted six weeks ago in the stable version of Firefox 29 for Android that lets you add Firefox OS apps to your Android home screen. They're both boons for developers, especially those with limited resources, who can build HTML5 apps for Firefox OS or Firefox for Android panels and still get them in the hands of the 1-billion-strong Android army.
The beta version of Firefox for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android comes with better Web development tools. A new color picker allows developers to match colors down to a single pixel; an editable box model for simplifying making tweaks to boxes on your site; and improved debugging tools for add-ons and HTML5 Canvas, which will make it easier to edit Web-based games.