In short: Firefox has now made its Firefox Reality browser available for users on Oculus, Daydream, and VIVE VR headsets, according to a recent announcement from the company. The open-source software can be used exactly like Mozilla’s Firefox for other platforms but has been redesigned from the ground up for a VR-first experience. For starters, although virtual keyboard inputs are still an option, voice typing is among the features being touted as a solution to the hassle of typing one key at a time in VR. Meanwhile, the homepage has been engineered to showcase VR-specific content and elements on the page are overlayed on a theme Mozilla calls an ‘environment’ that better suits the platform than a 2D page image.
Background: The new browser was initially announced back in April as a way for Mozilla to enter the space, bringing its experience in the browser market with it. As of this writing, the browser is missing account sign-ins, the associated bookmark saving functionality, and several other features Firefox browsers are known for. That’s because, in effect, the company is starting from scratch, although Mozilla simultaneously plans to ultimately bring each of its features and tools to the platform. For now, users will be able to get underway with basic browsing, for the time being, including private browsing features, in addition to the new VR-centric features. In fact, it’s even been built on top of its most recent Quantum mobile browsing engine. With that said, Firefox Reality as easy to download and install as any other web browser the company has released. For standalone Daydream headsets, the browser is available on the Google Play Store while Oculus Rift and Go users can download the app from that company’s site. HTC’s dedicated Viveport store will need to be used in order to download the browser for VIVE-branded headsets of all kinds.
Impact: Mozilla isn’t at all the only company currently focused on bringing its browser to VR platforms and will have some competition from Google’s Chrome. However, Mozilla appears to be taking a direct and future-forward approach that goes beyond what it has already accomplished for desktop and mobile environments. The company is engineering a completely new web browsing experience that is purpose-built for immersive platforms. It’s also actively seeking partners to bring even more content across games, 360-degree videos, and news categories. Moreover, Mozilla hopes to expand on personalization of Firefox Reality via the environments mentioned above and is encouraging developers to create those as well. All of will help to shape what VR browsing can become, driving competitors forward at the same time.