Mozilla is working on an app for Android, iOS and Firefox OS that gives smartphone users the ability to easily create and share Web apps.
It’s called Webmaker, after the initiative that Mozilla created to promote Web literacy. The app is still in development and won’t be released until early 2015, but Mozilla’s Andrew Sliwinski gave me a short demo of the current build.
The home feed offers a series of template options aimed at “personas” or particular professions, such as teachers, medics, journalists and small business owners. Users can customise any of them with Webmaker “blocks” which include text, forms, geolocations and more. “Basically, everything that you would need to build a rich, simple Web app,” Sliwinski explained.
Most of Mozilla’s existing Webmaker tools are designed for desktop browsers. X-Ray Goggles, for instance, allows anyone to “remix” their favorite sites and webpages – changing text, images and other clearly defined elements.
These tools are freely available and used every summer during Mozilla’s Maker Party festival. But with the growing number of smarpthone users – particularly in developing markets – the nonprofit needs similar resources for mobile.
Smartphone apps have exploded in popularity, so launching a tool that helps users create their own sounds obvious. But Mozilla’s ambition for an open Web – combined with the long-winded process of publishing native Android and iOS apps – makes its decision to focus on Web apps hardly surprising.
“It’s taking this idea of the app, but applying a more long-tail type of distribution – peer-to-peer distribution – that’s endemic of how the Web works today,” Sliwinski said as Mozilla gears up for MozFest 2014. “We’re taking the distribution of the Web and then applying it to the app ecosystem.”
Mozilla hopes to launch the Webmaker app simultaneously on Android and Firefox OS early next year. Sliwinski said a rough iOS prototype does exist, but there’s no word on when it will be available to download.