Mozilla on Tuesday unleashed a new version of its popular Firefox Web browser that is designed to be used with VR and AR headsets. Called Firefox Reality, the browser is built from the ground up to be used with virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, instead of being on the computer or smartphones. The new browser is said to be cross-platform, privacy-friendly, and open source with a special interface for headsets. Mozilla, known for its work in virtual and augmented reality with WebVR, WebAR, and A-Frame, says that the new mixed reality browser has been built tackle “new opportunities and challenges of browsing the immersive Web.”
Using emerging mixed reality Web standards that enable consumers to view immersive games and other experiences, Firefox Reality ensures that there will be no need to install apps custom-built for their specific headset. While most current solutions for browsing and accessing the Web on standalone headsets are closed and platform specific, Firefox Reality is an independent browser that will work on various devices and platforms. “The future of mixed reality is about delivering experiences, not about building applications. There shouldn’t be friction moving from one experience to another,” said Sean White, Senior Vice President, Emerging Technologies, Mozilla said in a blog post announcing the browser.
Firefox Reality browser has been created using the company’s existing Firefox Web technology along with its experimental Web engine Servo. In another blog, Mozilla says, “From the Servo team (who recently joined the Mixed Reality team), we will gain the ability to experiment with entirely new designs and technologies for seeing and interacting with the immersive web.”
Similar to the desktop browser, Firefox Reality is open source. During its initial development period, the source code for the browser will run in development mode on the Daydream and GearVR devices. It has released its source code and developer builds for a variety of platforms on GitHub.
Notably, Mozilla has not specified when Firefox Reality is going to be available to users. However, the browser will be available on the HTC Vive Focus and other headsets supported by HTC’s Vive Wave VR platform at launch, as seen in a demo video posted on YouTube.
Meanwhile, claiming to take privacy in the new browser seriously, the company says, “We don’t yet have all the answers for what privacy looks like in this new medium, but we are committed to finding the solution.”
In the coming weeks, Mozilla will release updates on its work on Firefox Reality, including details of the design process, sneak peaks of the browser running on pre-release headsets, new capabilities for designers and developers, integration of Servo, an experimental computer-vision pipeline using WebAssembly, and device, gesture, and voice-interaction features.