Mozilla service opens up mobile web

Mozilla developers are experimenting with a service that lets users store data online and access it on their mobile phones.


Mozilla developers are experimenting with a service that lets users store data online and access it on their mobile phones.

While the service, known as Joey, sounds relatively basic, its developers say users could essentially self-syndicate any information or view videos that they couldn't otherwise see on mobile phones.

Using the Firefox browser on a computer, users select portions of web sites, including images, text and videos, and save them onto their personal Joey page. Later, the user can access that Joey page and all the stored items from a phone. It requires a phone with a browser and a data plan.

Doug Turner, leader of the project, imagines many interesting uses for Joey. For example, a sports page may show the score of an ongoing game. On a PC, users can simply refresh the page to get the latest score. "But on a phone, there are a whole bunch of problems with that," Turner said. "There are latency problems, and most of the content on the page isn't related to what you want. The page has ads and images, but all you care about is that little score board."

Joey users can select that scoreboard section of the page and store it on their personal Joey page. Every time they visit that scoreboard on their Joey page from their phone, it will be updated with the latest data. It's like allowing users to self-syndicate any online information they want, Turner said. Users similarly could access information such as current stock price quotes or movie listings.

In some cases, Joey can allow users to access content that might otherwise not be available from a mobile phone, Turner said. For example, YouTube has a deal with Verizon Wireless that offers some videos to certain Verizon subscribers.

"That is the walled garden idea, where the operator knows better than you what content you should consume. Our position is, we want that to go away," he said. Project Joey lets users link to a specific YouTube video on their personal Joey page and then watch it on their cell phone, Turner said.

Anyone can start using the service now, but it's still in development. Users sign up for Joey and download a small Firefox add-on program to their PCs. The add-on displays a small icon in the lower right-hand corner of the browser. When surfing on any web site, the user can click on that icon and choose "Joey Summary Capture." Then the user moves the cursor around the Web page to select text or images that will be stored on their main Joey page and create a title for each selected piece of material.

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