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Firefox OS Simulator 3.0 released, dev phones still sold out

May 6, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Mozilla released its first fully-baked simulation engine for Firefox OS, while the first Geeksphone “Keon” development phones for the open source Linux-based mobile operating system remain sold out. Firefox OS Simulator 3.0 adds rotation and geolocation API simulations, faster boot-times, and a push-to-device feature that lets users transfer apps to a developer phone.

Firefox OS Simulator 3.0 fulfills all the promises made for the new release when the software was released in preview form six weeks ago. It’s a welcome step for budding Firefox OS developers, most of whom still can’t get their hands on the first Firefox OS developer phones from Mozilla’s Spanish partner Geeksphone. After placing the Peak and Keon phones on sale two weeks ago, the phones quickly sold out, and are still unavailable.



Firefox OS 3.0 simulator and tools overview
(click image to enlarge)

Commercial sales are expected to start in June with an Alcatel One Touch Fire phone available to Deutsche Telekom customers in Poland. Over the remainder of the year, many more releases of similarly low-end Firefox OS phones from ZTE, Alcatel, and perhaps other vendors will be introduced around the world from different carriers.

The Firefox OS simulator has come a long way from the bare-bones version 1.0 released in December. The key new feature enables developers to port their apps from the simulator directly into a Peak or Keon phone or another upcoming Firefox OS phone. The simulator also supports rotating displays, as well as basic geolocation API simulations and manifest validation, says Mozilla.

Several screenshots showing Firefox OS Simulator 3.0 running on Ubuntu appear below.



FireFox Simulator 3.0 screenshots
(click images to enlarge)

 

The release supports the latest versions of the Firefox rendering engine and Gaia user interface layer, and offers stabilization fixes and keyboard shortcuts for app installation and updating. Other new features include a smaller footprint and corresponding faster boot time, as well as various bug fixes.

Several reviews of the Geeksphone’s low-end Keon model (shown at right) that have appeared have balked at the archaic, bare-bones specs, but have been more positive on the overall Firefox OS experience. Writing for Forbes, for example, Ewan Spruce notes that while the Keon may not be “a handset you would hand to a family member or recommend to a colleague,” he finds the “speed and ease” of Firefox OS appealing, and says that the phone “has very few rough edges.” He concludes, “Firefox OS has a huge number of practical hurdles to overcome, but in terms of building developer excitement in the platform they’ve made a lot of smart moves, including the Keon.”

The Firefox OS Simulator 3.0 is now available for free download. More information, including links to downloads, may be found on Mozilla’s Firefox OS Simulator page.

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