The notion of the mobile context spans both the hardware and the situation in which the user operates. These are very different from what we observe and know from the desktop experience and Firefox. To name just a few key differences:
- screen: much smaller on mobile devices,
- user control and input: touchscreen, on-screen keyboard, finger instead of the mouse cursor,
- use cases: for example, quick reference look-up, price comparison, closest restaurant or ATM (in these examples the browser is used for an ad-hoc and quick information retrieval).
Just as Firefox ships with a set of default search engines, content and protocol handlers etc., which are adapted to the needs of a desktop user, so will Fennec. The ensemble of these settings is called the ‘productization’. The important thing regarding the web services that make up for the productization of Mozilla software is that they are often specific to a local market. For example, a search provider can deliver a very good quality of search results — but only in a specific country or language, and we have to take this into account when considering default search engines for a locale. This brings us to the need of customizing the set of default web services on a per-locale basis, in order to ensure a good user experience across all locales.
In a couple of next posts on this blog I will try to describe which factors should be, in my opinion, considered important when choosing default services for localized versions of Fennec. The series is intended as a discussion starter and I would like the guidelines laid out in it serve as a base for a conversation about the localization-related needs and issues with Fennec’s productization. As Fennec is still under development, all people involved in the localization process can make an important contribution to the project by bringing to our attention specific needs of their locale.