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Mozilla working on iPad mobile browser to challenge Safari

Prototype browser called Junior dumps the toolbar and pushes the browser to full screen, according to a recent video presentation.

Junior navigation buttons are placed on either side of the screen.
Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET
The plus button takes users to a list of recently visited pages, as well as a search tool. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

Mozilla is developing a new Web browser to challenge Safari on Apple's iPad.

The organization behind the Firefox desktop Web browser is working on a new mobile browser called "Junior," according to a video presentation (see below) delivered by company's Product Design Strategy team on Thursday. Junior is "an iPad browser that makes browsing more fun, more ergonomic and re-thinks browser user experience from the ground up," the company said on an intro page to the presentation.

"We wanted to make something entirely new. We wanted to look into how we could reinvent the browser for a new form factor," Firefox product designer Alex Limi said in the video, calling Safari on iPad "a miserable experience."

"There are a lot of reasons we should be on iOS even though we can't bring our rendering engine there," Limi said, noting that Mozilla currently has "no vehicle on one of the biggest consumer platforms in the world."

In the demonstration, the team explained that the prototype browser fills the iPad's entire canvas and removes the toolbar to give more of a "magazine feel." While they played with the idea of making controls gesture-based, the team ultimately decided to add two buttons, one on either side of the screen. The one on the left acts as a back button, while the one on the right is a plus button that presents users with a list of recent pages, as well as a search screen.

Apple Safari challengers aren't exactly new: Yahoo launched its own version, dubbed Axis, to run on iPad. Others include Atomic, Dolphin, Opera Mini, and Skyfire. But none of those have the large user base enjoyed by Mozilla's Firefox, which commands 20.2 percent of the browser market -- second only to Microsoft IE's 54.1 percent.

However, it's still possible that the public will never get its hands on the new browser.

"Junior is an early-stage experimental project and is not confirmed for development by Mozilla or for a future version of Firefox," a Mozilla spokesperson told CNET. "All projects and experiments at Mozilla are developed in the open to gather ideas and feedback."

[Via The Verge]

Updated 6/18 at 2:50 p.m. PT with Mozilla comment.