Mozilla has opened up its Firefox Marketplace for testing to those using the Aurora browser on Android. The design of the Marketplace matches the pictures that were leaked back in September, and our brief hands-on with the store reflects the extremely simplistic layout along with the bare minimum features one would expect. Highlighted apps current reside at the top of the Marketplace, with individual categories stacked below. Dive into those categories right now, and you’ll be met with very basic apps: think calculators, dictionaries, and flash card apps.
As it stands, the Marketplace is barebones
Finding an app is similar to what we've in other app stores, with descriptions, ratings, reviews, and screenshots all provided to help users download the right app. Once they've made their choice and hit "Install," an Android system prompt will confirm the download and install the app. After that, the app runs in its own instance outside of the browser. Shortcuts to Firefox apps are placed on your homescreens, but you won't find them in the Android app drawer. If you remove the shortcuts, you'll have to fire up Aurora and navigate back to the Marketplace to see which apps you have installed.
Despite the basic affair, there are a few nice touches. When browsing categories for an app, users can filter the results based on relevancy or rating. Users also have access to basic or expanded search results: the basic mode entails a typical scrollable list of apps, similar to the Play Store or the old iOS App Store, while the expanded view throws in glanceable thumbnails.
Right now there’s only access to free apps, with Mozilla noting that a payment system will be implemented in the future. Mozilla also points out that the public release is designed to gather feedback for developers who have submitted apps to the Marketplace as well as the company itself. It’s aimed purely at early adopters and those who like testing unfinished products, but the foundation states that this first step "will help lead the way for future Marketplace Aurora, Beta and Firefox OS releases in 2013." If you're curious to try it for yourself, then hit the source link and follow the instructions.