Mozilla today released Firefox OS version 1.3 to its partners for implementing in their smartphones. There are many new features for both users and developers, and the first phone to feature them is the ZTE Open C, which is available for sale as of today on eBay.
First and foremost, Firefox OS users can expect dual-SIM dual-standby (DSDS) support, which gives you two lines on compatible phones, a popular feature in emerging markets. DSDS lets dual-SIM devices individually manage two different SIMs for calling, texting, or data through the “SIM Manager” interface.
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As for the camera, version 1.3 adds continuous autofocus (dependent on device compatibility) as well as flash support. The Galley app has also been improved with content arrangement by month, file-information display (shows data such as date taken, file type, and file size), as well as performance improvements.
Mozilla has also made it easier to access your music. Music controls are now available in the notifications tray as well as on the lock screen (pictured below). Additionally, the FM Radio app can be played through the phone’s loudspeaker.
Adaptive app search has been improved to find apps in the Firefox Marketplace, in addition to the Web. Yet the biggest change to apps is the new smart collections feature.
Firefox OS can now automatically group your apps on your homescreen based on specific app categories (Social, Games, Music, Showbiz, and so on). Tapping on one of these categories shows you a list of all your installed apps as well as a list of suggested new apps you might like to try out.
Messaging in Firefox OS has also gotten a boost. The operating system will now automatically switch an SMS to an MMS if you add an image or video. Message drafts can now be saved, and there’s an option to receive delivery notifications when a message is read by the recipient.
Furthermore, you can now send MMS messages to email addresses. Speaking of email, notifications and POP3 support have been added as well. Additionally, multiple Bluetooth file transfers are now supported, allowing you to share more than one photo or MP3 with other devices simultaneously.
Last but not least, scrolling performance has been improved and system apps (calendar, address book, camera, and so on) have shorter startup times. Version 1.3 supports the following languages: Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic & Latin), Slovak, Spanish, and Turkish.
Other developer features include:
- NFC enablers have been added, starting with the availability of the WebNFC API. Developers will be able to begin experimenting with NFC pairing and tag reading in their apps, with additional NFC functionality coming in futures updates.
- This release is based on Gecko 28 and includes several new WebAPIs. Shared workers enable more powerful data processing and resource sharing so developers can write faster applications. Among the new APIs, SpeakerManager gives developers access to the phone’s speaker allowing application such as the FM Radio to be listened to without headphones. The WebIccManager API, which allows support for multiple SIM cards, has also been updated.
- The RTSP streaming framework has been completed as has support for audio streaming, allowing developers to leverage their existing music technologies to target Firefox OS users.
All in all, this is a massive update as we await Firefox OS 2.0, which will give the mobile operating system a brand new look. Before then, however, the roadmap promises version 1.4 first.