​Mozilla launches Firefox for iOS preview with test in New Zealand

Mozilla has rolled out its first public preview of Firefox for iPhones and iPads.

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Firefox for iOS Intelligent Search. Image: Mozilla

Mozilla has launched a new browser for iOS devices, rolling out a preview to New Zealand users ahead of the rest of the world.

The non-profit corporation announced a version of Firefox for iOS was in the works last December . Confirming ongoing work on the browser in May, Mozilla said that iOS 8 still didn't overcome its main objection of not being able to bring Firefox's rendering engine to iOS, but Apple's newly relaxed restrictions on third-party browsers was enough to make Firefox for iPhones and iPads viable.

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It announced the New Zealand-only preview on Thursday, saying the pilot will be used to gather feedback and iron out any kinks before a wider launch later this year.

"Our goal is to create a great browsing experience for iOS with Firefox," Mozilla said in a blog post.

"With this first public preview we will be collecting feedback in one country, before we extend availability to get feedback in a few more countries prior to a full public launch. Feedback from this preview release will help us build new features and bring Firefox for iOS to the App Store in rest of the world later this year."

Mozilla is seeking feedback on Intelligent Search, which provides suggested search results and, like its desktop browser, offers several search options including Amazon, Google, Twitter, Bing, DuckDuckGo, eBay, and Wikipedia.

Another key feature for the iOS browser is Firefox Accounts, which brings passwords and history from desktop Firefox to iOS devices. The preview also includes Visual Tabs.

Today's move ends Mozilla's boycott of sorts on iOS due to Apple limiting third-party browsers to its own WebKit engine.

Mozilla has previously released Firefox Home for iOS, a bookmarking app which it removed from the App Store in 2012 due to Apple's restrictions. The same year it abandoned a project called Firefox Junior, a WebKit based browser for iPads.

Firefox for iOS also comes as Mozilla as the organisation struggles to gain traction with Firefox OS, its open alternative to Android that launched in 2012. Firefox OS was initially aimed at low-cost devices for emerging markets, but earlier this year it shifted its focus to a broader portfolio of devices .

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