It appears that Mozilla is making progress with its Firefox for iOS browser, as the company launched a limited trial program in New Zealand to shake out bugs and gather data ahead of a planned worldwide debut later this year.
Mozilla announced availability of the first Firefox for iOS preview through its blog on Thursday, noting testing will expand beyond New Zealand to other unnamed countries before a full public launch.
With a test build out in the wild, Mozilla gather data and user feedback to inform the development of new features. Among the current features undergoing testing is Intelligent Search, a suggested search tool that surfaces relevant results from a user's chosen providers. Firefox Accounts provides portable account management and cross-device syncing of browsing history, passwords and tabs.
Mozilla is also collecting feedback to help squash bugs and optimize performance so it can get Firefox in the iOS App Store by the end of 2015. Users can respond directly to the company via an in-app message submittal system.
While Apple's Safari makes up the lion's share of mobile Web browser usage, but Firefox is still a popular desktop alternative to competing products. In 2013 Mozilla famously said it had no plans to port a version of Firefox to iOS until Apple loosened restrictions on Web browsers marketed through the App Store. The company subsequently reversed course and late last year announced plans to bring Firefox over to iOS.