We are excited to announce that Katharina Borchert will be transitioning from our Board of Directors to join the Mozilla leadership team as our new Chief Innovation Officer starting in January. Continue reading …
Mozilla has released a new report — mzl.la/localcontent — co-authored with the GSMA. Titled “Approaches to local content creation: realising the smartphone opportunity,” our report explores how the right tools, coupled with digital literacy education, can empower mobile-first Web users as content creators and develop a sustainable, inclusive mobile Web.
In emerging markets like India, Bangladesh and Kenya, many individuals access the Web exclusively through smartphones. Indeed, by the end of 2020, there will be 3 billion people using the mobile internet across the developing world.
Improved access is heartening, but a dearth of local content in these regions can render the mobile Web irrelevant, leaving users with little reason to engage. This leads to lost opportunities, and a diminished mobile ecosystem.
In this report, Mozilla and the GSMA explore solutions to this challenge. Mozilla and the GSMA sought to answer three key questions:
- What level of digital literacy is necessary to empower mobile-first users?
- What kind of tools enable users to easily create content?
- Can the right training and tools significantly impact the digital ecosystem in mobile-first countries?
Our findings draw on a range of data: 12 weeks of ethnographic research in emerging markets throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas; one year of user-centered design, testing and iteration of Webmaker for Android, Mozilla’s app for spurring local content creation; two pilot studies exploring the relationship between digital skills on mobile Web usage; and additional analysis.
We explored a range of topics — from language to learning to networks — but reached a central conclusion: Higher skill levels and a larger amount of relevant content would benefit a range of actors, including the mobile industry, government and civil society. If the right investments are made, many more newcomers to the internet will enjoy the benefits of online life, and will be able to create value for themselves and others in the process.
Additional lessons learned include:
- There is a latent appetite to create content in emerging markets. Research participants and user testers were hugely excited and enthusiastic about the idea of creating for the Internet.
- Sharing is a powerful motivator for original content creation. In some of our testing contexts, we have observed that the social incentives for “sharing” content provide the hook that leads a user to generate his or her own original content.
- Designing for the “next billion” requires the same focus and respect for the user as designing for those already online. Simply because some are new to the Web, or to content creation, does not mean that those creating platforms and applications should underrate their ability to handle and even enjoy complexity.
- Users do not want to create the same content as everyone else. During workshops, participants continually broke free of our restrictions, escaping the templates and the grids they were provided with, to experiment with more open-ended and fun concepts.
To read the full report, visit mzl.la/localcontent.
Mozilla and the GSMA began their partnership in 2014, motivated by the growing number of people coming online through smartphones and the desire to spark local content creation. To read past research findings, visit mzl.la/research.
Content blocking has become a hot issue across the Web and mobile ecosystems. It was already becoming pervasive on desktop, and now Apple’s iOS has made it possible to develop iOS applications whose purpose is to block content. This caused the most recent flurry of activity, concern and focus. We need to pay attention.
Content blocking is not going away – it is now part of our online experience. But the landscape isn’t well understood, making it harder to know how best to advance a healthy, open Web. Users want it –whether to avoid the display of ads, protect against unwanted tracking, improve load speed, or reduce data consumption– and we need to address how we as an industry should respond. We wanted to start by hacking on proposed principles for content blocking. The growing availability and use of content blockers tells us that users want to control their experience.
This is a good thing. But some content blocking could be harmful in ways that may not be obvious. For example, if content blocking creates new gatekeepers who can pick winners and losers in the publishing space or who favor their own content over others’, it ultimately harms competition and innovation. In the long run, users could lose as much control as they gain. The same happens if the commercial model of the Web is not part of the content blocking debate.
In my last post, I conveyed our intention to engage with this landscape, not solely through analysis and research, but also through experimentation, product development, and advocacy.
To help guide our efforts and hopefully inform others, we’ve developed three proposed “content blocking principles” that would help advance the beneficial effects of content blocking while minimizing the risks. We want your help hacking on them. Just as our data privacy principles help guide our data practices, these content blocking principles will help guide what we build and what we support across the industry.
Content is not inherently good or bad – with some notable exceptions, such as malware. So these principles aren’t about what content is OK to block and what isn’t. They speak to how and why content can be blocked, and how the user can be maintained at the center through that process.
At Mozilla, our mission is to ensure a Web that is open and trusted and that puts our users in control. For content blocking, here is what we think that means:
- Content Neutrality: Content blocking software should focus on addressing potential user needs (such as on performance, security, and privacy) instead of blocking specific types of content (such as advertising).
- Transparency & Control: The content blocking software should provide users with transparency and meaningful controls over the needs it is attempting to address.
- Openness: Blocking should maintain a level playing field and should block under the same principles regardless of source of the content. Publishers and other content providers should be given ways to participate in an open Web ecosystem, instead of being placed in a permanent penalty box that closes off the Web to their products and services.
Tell us what you think of these proposed principles on your social channels using #contentblocking and join us on Friday October 9 at 11am PT for our #BlockParty, a conversation around the problems and possible solutions to the content blocking question. We look forward to working with our users, our partners and the rest of the Web ecosystem to advance our shared goal of a healthy, open Web.
In this role, Ari will be responsible for Firefox OS and broader exploration of opportunities to advance our mission across the ever-increasing range of connection points of the modern Internet, i.e. phones, TVs, IoT, etc.
His deep understanding of Open Source projects and mobile leadership experience at Intel, HP, and Nokia developing platforms and products make him ideally positioned to lead our Firefox OS and Connected Devices strategy.
Firefox OS is an important part of our mobile strategy, in addition to Firefox for Android and iOS and other initiatives. We believe that building an open, independent alternative to proprietary, single-vendor platforms is critical to the future of a healthy mobile ecosystem. And it is core to our mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity in online life.
We believe Mozilla’s role in the world is more important today than it has ever been. Issues of digital rights, privacy, online safety and security are real and impact our lives daily. The pace and complexity of online life continues to accelerate from here.
Over the last year we’ve focused on building our our team to compliment the vibrant Mozillian community adding the necessary know-how to continue to bring choice, control and opportunity to everyone on the Web.
Please join me in welcoming Ari to Mozilla!
Not surprisingly, the latest discussions around content blocking have resulted in a polarizing debate about the users who choose to block content as a way to control their Web experience, and the commercial interests who monetize that content. All of this inevitably leads to a discussion about which content is good, which content is bad, and which content should be blocked.
Rather than focusing on the symptoms of the problem, we should be asking ourselves why users have sought to use blunt instruments like content blockers to help them navigate their online lives. We don’t know the full answer to this question yet. What we see is that the reasons differ among users and may depend on the device (e.g. on desktop users may be focused on privacy and performance may be a side benefit, whereas on mobile performance and data usage may be a main focus). We as an industry need to understand the user’s needs. Continue reading …
The latest Firefox update is now available. This release includes minor updates to personalize your Firefox Account and adds a new functionality to Firefox Hello Beta.
Firefox Accounts provides access to services like Firefox Sync to let you take browsing data such as passwords, bookmarks, history and open tabs across your desktop and mobile devices. The latest update to Firefox Accounts allows you to personalize your Firefox Account profile in Firefox for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android by adding a photo.
Firefox Hello Beta, developed with our partner Telefónica, is the global communications system built directly into a browser and it will now let you send and receive instant messages when you’re in a video call in Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Things are moving fast for royalty-free video codecs. A month ago, the IETF NETVC Working Group had its first meeting and two weeks ago Cisco announced Thor. Today, we’re taking the next big step in this industry-wide effort with the formation of the Alliance for Open Media. Its founding members represent some of the biggest names in online video, such as Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube, multiple browser vendors including Mozilla, Microsoft, and Google, and key technology providers like Cisco and Intel. The Alliance has come together to share technology and run the kind of patent analysis necessary to build a next-generation royalty-free video codec.
Mozilla has long championed royalty-free codecs. The Web was built on innovation without asking permission, and patent licensing regimes are incompatible with some of the Web’s most successful business models. That’s why we already support great codecs like VP8, VP9, and Opus in Firefox. But the Web doesn’t stand still and neither do we. As resolutions and framerates increase, the need for more advanced codecs with ever-better compression ratios will only grow. We started our own Daala project and formed NETVC to meet those needs, and we’ve seen explosive interest in the result. We believe that Daala, Cisco’s Thor, and Google’s VP10 combine to form an excellent basis for a truly world-class royalty-free codec.
In order to allow us to move quickly, the alliance is structured as a Joint Development Foundation project. These are an ideal complement to a larger, open standards organization like the IETF: One of the biggest challenges in developing open standards in a field like video codecs is figuring out how to review the patents. The Alliance provides a venue for us to share the legal legwork without having to worry about it being used against us down the road. That distributes the load, allows us to innovate faster and cheaper, and gives everyone more confidence that we are really producing a royalty-free codec.
The Alliance will operate under W3C patent rules and release code under an Apache 2.0 license. This means all Alliance participants are waiving royalties both for the codec implementation and for any patents on the codec itself. The initial members are just a start. We invite anyone with an interest in video, online or off, to join us.
For further information please visit www.aomedia.org or view the press release.
Mozilla is excited to announce that Webmaker for Android emerges from beta today. You can download the new version of our free, open source app from Google Play at mzl.la/webmaker.
Mozilla built Webmaker to empower first-time smartphone users and mobile-first Web users as active participants on the Web. Too often, individuals around the world experience a “read-only” mobile Web, passively consuming content and unable to actively contribute. But when consumers become creators, they’re introduced to social and economic opportunity. And when everyone can contribute equally, the Web becomes a better place.
Webmaker is Mozilla’s way of addressing the lack of local content in mobile-first markets. Initially available in four languages (Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, English and Indonesian) and with more coming soon, the app allows individuals across the globe to create original content in their language and relevant to their community. We built Webmaker after extensive research around the world, and it’s informed by hundreds of volunteers. Webmaker belongs as much to these communities as it does Mozilla.
Webmaker’s hallmark is simplicity: there’s no know-how required, no steep learning curve, and no complex toolbars. Users can create a range of content in minutes — from scrapbooks and art portfolios to games and memes. The intuitive design lets users iterate on the Web’s basic building blocks: text, images and links. With these three fundamentals, our community has already built wonderful creations: how-to manuals, photo albums, digital sketchbooks and wardrobes, exercise handbooks and more. Users are also free to remix and tinker with each other’s Webmaker projects in order to start slowly and steadily expand their creative potential.
How is this version different from the Webmaker beta we released in June? In addition to better performance and a more optimal user experience, shared projects can now be viewed on any platform (mobile or desktop), and users with poor connectivity will experience better performance while offline. Also, content discovery is now location-based — you can see what others in your community are creating and remixing.
Today, we are proud to bring all the features you love about Firefox to Windows 10, along with a fresh new look and a way to preserve your search engine choice.
Firefox Has a New Look for Windows 10
You can now download or update to the latest Firefox to see a fresh new look in Windows 10. We’ve made thoughtful tweaks to the interface to give Firefox a streamlined feel. You’ll also notice bigger, bolder design elements as well as more space for viewing the Web. We had a lot of fun building this version of Firefox and we hope you’ll enjoy the new look.
If you upgrade to Windows 10 or get a device that already has it installed, your default browser is set to Microsoft Edge by Windows, so we created support materials to show you how to restore or choose Firefox as your default browser in Windows 10.
Firefox also helps you preserve your choice when using the search field on the Windows 10 taskbar to search the Web. When using this search field, Windows 10 launches your default browser but only shows search results in Microsoft Bing. When you have Firefox set as your default browser on Windows 10, all your Web searches from the taskbar search field will show results in the default search engine you choose in Firefox.
Making Third Party Add-ons Safer in Firefox
Add-ons are another important aspect of how you control and customize Firefox. Add-ons will continue to provide limitless possibilities for customizing the look and functionality of Firefox, but today we’re also taking steps to ensure that using add-ons is a safe and secure experience for our users. We’ve announced a process to certify add-ons based on guidelines we have provided to add-on developers.
In future releases of Firefox, any third-party add-on that has not been certified will be disabled by default. Today, you will start seeing warnings next to unsigned add-ons in Firefox, but no add-ons will be automatically disabled. These warnings will inform you about add-ons that have not been certified by Mozilla and we’re working with add-on developers to help them meet our standards and make add-ons safer for you.
We are calling on Microsoft to “undo” its aggressive move to override user choice on Windows 10
Mozilla exists to bring choice, control and opportunity to everyone on the Web. We build Firefox and our other products for this reason. We build Mozilla as a non-profit organization for this reason. And we work to make the Internet experience beyond our products represent these values as much as we can.
Sometimes we see great progress, where consumer products respect individuals and their choices. However, with the launch of Windows 10 we are deeply disappointed to see Microsoft take such a dramatic step backwards. It is bewildering to see, after almost 15 years of progress bolstered by significant government intervention, that with Windows 10 user choice has now been all but removed. The upgrade process now appears to be purposefully designed to throw away the choices its customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have.
On the user choice benchmark, Microsoft’s Windows 10 falls woefully short, even when compared to its own past versions. While it is technically possible for people to preserve their previous settings and defaults, the design of the new Windows 10 upgrade experience and user interface does not make this obvious nor easy. Continue reading …