I'm pleased about this because -
1- Firefox Reality is actually "Servo" ie the Rust based browser Mozilla has been developing for years. edit - UGGGH this may not ship with Servo enabled :(
2- This is a stamp of approval from both Firefox and HTC that Servo is ready for consumers at least for this use case (which is very demanding low latency graphics!)
3- Actual Firefox means far higher standards of privacy and integrity then some cancerous Chromium embedded scenario.
I'm concerned enough to think twice about buying anything from Vive mobile because -
1- Their Vive PC software is awful shovelware.
2- It's not clear what the OS environment around the browser would be in an HTC branded mobile headset. If it's a clean version of Android that can be hacked on and replaced then we have something.
3- WebXR/WebVR still has no useful way to actually browse the real web, there is no "HTMLTexture" to allow you to say even look at Wikipedia through a portal. As a result you are trapped in basically WebXR Demo hell...
Today, Firefox Reality is available for standalone VR devices (like the HTC Vive Focus) and is a native Java application that talks to the GeckoView library, which is made up of components from the mobile version of Gecko, the Firefox web engine.
Firefox Reality for desktop will similarly be based off of the Firefox Desktop product pieces.
Note that there's a bunch of "Servo inside" - from small Rust components to the Quantum work including the new CSS style system to the forthcoming WebRender component.
I don't have anything to announce today about a Firefox Reality-branded browser based on top of Servo.
IMHO the strategy of unlocking a lot of VR and AR content via a browser makes a lot of sense. The ongoing Rustification of Firefox, things like Web GL, WASM, etc. It all makes sense for VR/AR applications to build on that. Solving the empty room problem where there is no meaningful content or where all the interesting content is in somebody else's walled garden is a key challenge.
VR requires a dedicated UX and I can imagine independent hardware vendors are maybe not so eager to e.g. rely on Google for providing them with that UX. Also, Firefox seems to be leading here rather than following.
Firefox Reality currently uses GeckoView, Gecko repackaged in a WebView-like embeddable Android component. The Firefox Reality team is still working on experimental support for Servo:
This doesn't mean they are not focused on desktop, but strategically this is a solid bed that may or may not pay off, but will be key for long-term survival.
EDIT: plus having commercial sponsors for the eventual Servo-in-VR (as noted elsewhere, not shipping yet) will be key to getting Servo itself ready for production.
EDIT 2: Can we get material properties on HTML elements please? I want <img>s with bump-mapping and specular highlights. :)
Working on Firefox Reality has beneficial effects on Gecko's general ability to be embedded.
Doing a "VR metaverse" is a big job. There are about a half dozen of them now, and they all have tiny user counts.
Chrome on Daydream presents a super simplified UI. I'd love to be able to open a few tabs, move them around spatially, adjust the size, etc.
There is so much potential for improving browsing experiences in VR.
Somewhat considering actually working on the project, I know they're on Github but don't know if they are looking for help.
What else have you tried?
I think this is a very risky bet unless they make net money on this which they can funnel into more promising projects.
Worst case, the effort of a relatively small team has been wasted, and Gecko and Servo will have received a few improvements as a result of their work. Best case, VR makes it big and Firefox is its go-to browser.
Then consider the case where they're not in the VR space early. Best case, they've saved a relatively small team's effort. Worst case, VR makes it big and Firefox is as marginally relevant as it is now on mobile.
Maybe the cost of this project for Mozilla is so small that it doesn’t matter, but I think it isn’t
Edit: also I said that the bet itself is risky, not that it’s putting Mozilla’s existence in jeopardy
Trying to display/read small text in VR really shows up the limitations of current tech.
Unless they're referring to HTC's software suite (Viveport I think it's called), which very few people use because it's some of the worst software I've ever seen. For example, it somehow managed to jam the entire 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands in my apartment while it was running. Not even sure how it's possible to do that by accident.
For all-in-one devices, Firefox Reality will be preinstalled and the default browser.
I think this is actually about their freestanding arm based headsets as this is the only target Firefox Reality builds for (android probably).
1. Displaying the VR content itself. Most can do this already but it's not always switched on by default.
2. Render the browser chrome - the UI around the VR content in a way that's sensible and usable in VR.
3. Handle transitioning from VR web contentto a non-VR content in a sensible way. (where does the browser Chrome live when the "web page" is covering 360 degrees in both directions? VR content can't be contained in a rectangular frame)
(And to forestall the inevitable comment, I understand the potential of VR, and have since the 1990s VR wave. What I'm wondering about is actual sustained (that is, non-novelty) use.)
Something has to be the connecting tissue of the multiverse and we'd better hope it's not Facebook or something equally proprietary.
For literally my entire adult life people have been talking about VR as the coming big thing. I'm 100% over hearing about that, especially in response to very specific questions about actual use.
I think the research in this direction is beneficial, and as a result, I'd like the Servo project to be allowed to continue developing cool stuff. As Servo won't replace Gecko in Firefox, it needs to try more challenging tasks to continue to push its envelope. WebRender has a ton of potential in the WebVR space, since a Web Components-based VR system would rely heavily on a performant DOM. Such a project would push Servo to continue development in preparation for a more functional future web.
That said, Servo itself has a fresh DOM implementation and I think there was work on making it really fast.
I don't want a trick. I want a good web browser. From its beginning, Firefox got popular because it was just a good web browser, not because of any gimmick. If anything, it was the lack of gimmicks that made it good. Unlike previous Mozilla products, it was just the browser.
I'd be curious to see an interview with their executive team. Their solutions just don't seem to align with people's problems any more.
(Last year, I might have guessed they're just abandoning the desktop web browser market, but today they're the only remaining completely independent implementation, so they've lucked themselves into a position of great importance. A lot of people who never use Firefox still want it to succeed.)
I'm glad you want Firefox to succeed. I do too. (I'm posting this from FF!) But unless you can find a few dozen million friends to pony up actual cash for it, every year, Mozilla's going to have to keep looking for other options.
I have had Vive since day 1. I am never touching anything HTC again. I'm happy enough with the device and technology I have- but the HTC software is horrendous and there's no place for it. I've heard just horror story after horror story of HTC customer service / repair, wanting $200 for a new controller etc.
Vive Pro is a complete joke, in price.
HTC hasn't done anything positive since the release of the original vive.