At long last, Firefox for iOS. Rather unusually, this is the first version of the Firefox browser that does not use the Gecko layout engine, instead using iOS’s built-in WebKit-based layout engine. The app is available as a free download from the App Store.
Way back in 2010, Mozilla released an app called Firefox Home for iOS. This app didn’t include a Web browser; rather, it just used Firefox Sync to pull down your browsing history and bookmarks from your desktop installation of Firefox. Home was retired way back in 2012—and then… there was nothing for a very long time. In December 2014, Mozilla finally announced that Firefox would be coming back to iOS—and this time, it would actually contain a Web browser.
Firefox for iOS has a pretty rich feature set: private browsing mode; Firefox Sync; an intelligent “omnibar” address box; and a few neat UI tweaks. As mentioned previously, the underlying layout engine is WebKit, rather than Firefox’s usual Gecko.
We tested Firefox for iOS very briefly, and it worked just fine. Pages loaded quickly—or rather, they seemed to load just as quickly as Chrome and Safari. Given that Firefox for iOS shares much of the same underlying code as Safari or Chrome for iOS, that isn’t surprising.
There are two big reasons that you might want to use Firefox for iOS: you’re a Firefox user on your desktop PC and want to avail yourself of synchronised bookmark and tab histories; or you buy into the idea that Mozilla is a better and safer shepherd of your Web surfing experience.