Is it August again?

Two years ago if you asked me where I saw myself in two years, I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d be writing a blog post on a machine covered in Mozilla stickers.

Just the top

Let’s back up a little bit. As a designer, I already knew I was fortunate to have my designs actually built and being used by millions of people. Cue cliché that I didn’t really feel like I was doing anything relevant. Something was missing. The company I was at was no longer a start-up; it had been acquired and I felt its identity being slowly sucked away by the parent company. Our team became a small cog in the big company wheel. It became harder and harder to get releases out when planned — which, over time, begins to kill your enthusiasm.

I wanted real design problems that people faced — everywhere. I needed a connection to people doing real-world everyday things.

I desired to continue mobile work. So why not work on something everyone uses? It was obvious to me that Mozilla’s Mission and Manifesto were solid and aligned with my own beliefs. Even better, Firefox is open-source. I guess I found what I was looking for — an internet browser.

In August of 2014 I joined the Firefox team at Mozilla, focusing on mobile platforms.

What have I been up to?

TL;DR (a brief two-year recap)

Since then I’ve been working on primarily the iOS browser. I’m going to focus on that for the sake of attempting to make this post short(er).

Firefox for iOS

November 2014. Four of us (the entirety of Mobile UX at the time) sat around a large table in a conference room at our London office, going over some UI mocks that I had created. We had just started working on ideas for an iOS version of our browser, Firefox; minus the browser.

Initial UI mocks for Project 105, our non-browser Firefox experience

Wait, what? What’s Firefox without a browser?

There’s a bit of storied history as to why Firefox was not yet on the iOS platform. Here’s the shortest version I can give you:

Firefox was not yet on iOS because Firefox is written in Gecko, not WebKit. WebKit is what all browsers on iOS are required to use, according to Apple (2.17).

In other words, we were building a Firefox Sync client. In other other words, we were building a new version of Firefox Home. Or for those familiar, a revitalized Pancake.

Portland

The next month we as a company headed to Portland for an All Hands work week. During that week a few of us sat down with our CEO Chris Beard and discussed our iOS project. To summarize that meeting, Chris asked us (paraphrased)

“Why aren’t we just building a browser?”

…to which we shrugged because of the aforementioned history. From that meeting, we had the go to build the first true version of Firefox for iOS!

1.0

In the next nine months, we cranked out our first version. By September we were able to release in New Zealand and by November worldwide.

v 1.0 released to New Zealand, pardon the artifact

2.0

We added 3D Touch support from both the home screen and Peek and Pop to the tabs tray as well as Spotlight search, Find in Page, and login management.

3D Touch and Find in Page

3.0

A smaller release, but with the added ability to use Touch ID to protect logins, autocomplete for the most frequently visited domains, and a few site suggestions if you had not setup Sync.

4.0

By this release we added the ability to override certificate errors, accessing your Bookmarks with the Awesomebar, a Today widget, and a print option.

Overriding cert errors, Bookmarks surface using the Awesomebar, and a snazzy new Today widget

5.0

The latest release was a bit bigger and added even more features. Setting a Home page, the ability to close all tabs (and recover them if needed), history lists within a tab if you long press a back or forward arrow, combined History and Sync panels, being able to add 3rd-party search engines, keyboard shortcuts, and the biggest UI change; a menu.

Consolidated History and Sync, Tab history on long press, and a long-awaited menu

Today and beyond

We still have quite a few more designs in the works for upcoming releases and I’ll continue to work on Firefox for iOS as well as making improvements to Firefox on our other platforms and our Context Graph projects. Stay tuned!

Many thanks for the past two years looking forward to the future

Two years ago I had no idea where I’d be, but I pointed myself in a general direction and went for it. I would be putting it mildly if I were to say I was tickled to join the Firefox team. I was fucking thrilled. I still am. I am truly grateful to be on such a stellar team, collaborating with the greatest minds and talent from all over the world. I’m excited to see what we make next. 🙌

I’m sure I’m missing a few here…
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