June 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM ET
Mozilla, the non-profit that created the Firefox browser among other open-source tools, is finally making the jump to the iPad, a platform on which it has been conspicuously absent for years despite the device's focus on the web. They aim to replace Safari with a new and somewhat different take on the browser that they call "Junior."
While many have been expecting more or less an iPad version of the popular desktop browser, Mozilla has resisted taking that path, and tried building something new from the ground up. This is because they recognized that people browse differently on tablets. Rather than maintaining a stable of tabs, people tend to travel around the web in a single tab, discovering and going back if necessary.
With that in mind, they essentially eliminated tabs and the URL bar from the browser, at least while you're browsing. All that's visible is a pair of buttons at thumb level that let you go back and forward or access the navigation screen. This screen has your most recent sites visited on the top, your more frequently visited sites in the middle, and a keyboard at the bottom with which you can search or type in a URL. Favorites are a swipe to the right and separate accounts for people sharing the same iPad are a swipe to the left.
It's still just a prototype, and much needs to be done (there isn't even a progress bar yet for slow-loading web pages), but this may well be the tablet-focused browser people have been waiting for on the iPad. You can watch the whole presentation from Mozilla here; it also contains some news on the desktop browser. Junior shows up at the 52 minute mark.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.