Firefox OS Widens Horizons
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 09 January 2014

Firefox OS is to be made available on smart TVs and tablets, according to announcements made at CES.

The operating system was launched by Mozilla in 2013 for smartphones, and Mozilla has now announced a partnership with Panasonic whereby Firefox OS will be used to drive Panasonic smart TVs. In a press statement, Panasonic said:

“The development of the new Firefox OS platform aims to deliver more expansive access into smart TVs by leveraging the HTML5 and Web technologies already prevalent on PCs, smartphones and tablets, to offer consumers more personalized and optimized access to Web and broadcasting content and services through the Internet.”

 

 

Under the covers, the current generation of smart TVs mainly use Linux, but Firefox OS would offer more options and perhaps a role for third party developers. Panasonic said the next generation smart TVs will use HTML5 to pull data from Web services and devices, meaning developers could create new applications and services using content from both the Internet and broadcasting.

The new WebAPIs for hardware control from Mozilla will also make it possible to monitor and operate devices inside and outside of the home. The announcement said that in next generation smart TVs, basic functions, such as menus and EPGs (Electronic Program Guide) which are currently written as embedded programs, will be written in HTML5/JavaScript, making it possible for developers to easily create applications for smartphones or tablets to remotely access and operate the TV.

In a blog post about the plans, Mozilla’s Jay Sullivan pointed out:

“More devices than ever are becoming Internet-enabled: it’s estimated that there will be 30 billion wirelessly-connected devices in 2020, three times as many as today. As the Internet comes to your wrist, your car and your TV, Mozilla would like to see the Web principles of openness and a level playing field in these areas, too.”

Alongside the smart TV announcement, Mozilla and Via Technologies announced that Via’s $99 APC Paper mini-PC and $79 APC Rock single board computer (SBC) are available in a finalised version with complete source code available on GitHub.

The new version adds support for features including HDMI hot plug, Ethernet cable hot plug, and mouse wheel events. The support for HDMI, USB and Ethernet is interesting as these extend the operating system beyond the features supported on Firefox OS phones.

 
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