Mozilla Launches WebXRViewer For iOS
Written by David Conrad   
Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Mozilla has launched an augmented reality app for iOS as part of its push to establish its recently proposed WebXR standard and persuade developers to build augmented reality experiences using open web technologies, WebVR, and Apple’s ARKit framework.

When Firefox 55 shipped in August 2017 it was the first desktop browser to support WebVR and to put virtual reality content on the web. WebVR works with devices like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and enables developers to to translate position and movement information from the display into movement around a 3D scene in web apps. This opens up applications from virtual product tours and interactive training apps to immersive first person games.

This video from Mozilla Hacks suggests other possibilities: 


Mozilla has been concerned with putting virtual reality content on the web for a long time. Vladimir Vukićević, the Mozillian who first conceived the WebVR standard  in 2014 also made major technological contributions to WebGL having originated Canvas 3D - an OpenGL 3D contest for the canvas HTML element. 

WebXR is an expansion of WebVR to include AR/MR capabilities. The api was proposed in October 2017 as being:

intended to build on the concepts already included in the native WebVR implementation, or the WebVR polyfill, [extended] with AR capabilities appropriate for the underlying platform.

The README continues:

Some of the concepts we believe are important to have in WebXR include: 

  • The ability to have control the render of reality inside the browser, as this is essential for enabling user privacy (e.g. controlling camera and location data), easy cross platform applications, and performance.

  • Making access to video frames and other "world knowledge" up to the user-agent, so they may require permission from user for access to these resources.

  • Supporting the potential for multiple simultaneous AR pages, where each page knows that they are rendering on top of reality and if they have focus. Supporting these lines up with the ability to render reality inside the browser since each application would not be responsible for rendering the view of reality, so their content could be composited.

  • Supporting some form of the idea of “custom, user defined” representations of reality like fully virtual realities. The critical feature is that the "reality" code can “filter” the view pose that is passed back into the rAF callback, both in the same page and in other pages (if there is multi-page support).

  • Some ability to do high performance, synchronous computer vision in a mix of native and javascript. One approach is to have a synchronous vision worker that is executed before the rAF callback happens, but there are other approaches.

The new WebXR Viewer contains several sample AR programs, demonstrating the technology in the real world.  One contains holographic silhouettes which you can place in your real environment.




Another uses a teapot, the mascot of all computer graphics since the days of Ivan Sutherland.


The app can, as its name suggests, be use to view your own WebXR creations, including ones built using Apple's ARKit framework described as the “largest AR platform in the world" when it was announced for iOS 11 at WWDC17.

More Information

WebXR Viewer from iTunes

Virtual Reality for the Open Web

After a 23-Year Wait, WebVR Ships Today


Webxr-api on GitHub

Related Articles

Amazon Sumerian For Building Virtual Environments

WebVR 1.0 API Proposal Introduced

Google Takes VR Seriously - DayDream

Intel's Project Alloy Introduces Merged Reality

Microsoft HoloLens For A Mixed Reality Future  

Holoportation - Another Step for Microsoft Research

3D Teapot Classic Using Pure DHTML

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 December 2017 )