Mozilla is retiring its virtual and augmented reality web browser Firefox Reality, passing the baton to an outside team that plans to relaunch it under a new name. Free software consultancy Igalia is developing a browser using the source code underlying Firefox Reality, aiming to launch a comparable VR / AR browser called Wolvic next week. Meanwhile, Mozilla will remove Firefox Reality from app stores in the next few weeks.
In a blog post, Mozilla framed the change as a natural evolution for Firefox Reality, which launched in 2018. “We’ve been at the forefront of developing new technologies,” the organization said, citing the WebVR and WebAR standards. “In some instances, Mozilla continues to remain the host and incubator of those new technologies ... With other technologies, we find communities and organizations where our projects can continue to grow and contribute to the web.” Igalia has previously contributed to the WebKit and Chromium open-source projects.
Firefox Reality is currently available on the Meta Quest (formerly Oculus Quest) headset, HTC’s Viveport platform, and the Pico standalone VR headset, as well as Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset. On top of letting users browse traditional web pages in headsets, it’s a portal to full-fledged web-based VR and AR experiences — a platform that’s often overlooked in comparison with native headset apps but that offers a more open alternative to curated app stores. (Meta also offers its own built-in web browser on the Quest.) As antitrust watchdogs scrutinize Meta’s VR ambitions and companies across the tech industry invest in AR, Wolvic could bolster the viability of web-based mixed reality — assuming it stays active.