This is a guest post by Urlist, who have recently launched their first Firefox OS app Manana. We’ve asked them to tell us more about the app and the process of including a privacy policy on Firefox OS and the Firefox Marketplace.

  • Find a guide, specifically done to help you make a privacy policy for the Firefox Marketplace and your app.

The app, the concept and progress

manana1

At Urlist we have always believed in usability and the need to create services that fulfill users’ expectations. We saw Firefox OS and we were enchanted by the possibilities offered by an open platform and open environment. We felt the thrill of having access to 1.4 billion users that have never used a smartphone. Some of them don’t even have a desktop computer at home – their experience with internet is limited. This, of course, posed some challenges: our app had to be intuitive, self-explanatory and low on bandwidth usage. It also had to perform well on lower end handsets.

We have taken all those factors into consideration and created a new kind of experience. That is how Manana was born: an app to read, save and share your favorite articles. We wanted to enable users to do it offline and save on their data plans. We wanted it to be accessible in many different languages from the start. We wanted it to be fast and simple. Our plans for the app were and are that it should run one task in the best possible way.

We have encountered numerous challenges during the development process. FirefoxOS is an amazing, open platform, but it is also very young and not too many things are set in stone. It is a land of firsts – and as exciting as our journey was, it had these challenges in store for us:

  • The user experience had to be the friendliest possible – our audience had mostly no previous knowledge of smartphones
  • It was also difficult to get to know and research their expectations

People read and save links all over the world and they deserve to be able to do it in a simple way on even the simplest devices. That is why we chose FirefoxOS.

The privacy policy on the Firefox Marketplace

On the legal and practical side, Mozilla constantly updates and adds to the various aspects of FirefoxOS documentation, but still many things are not certain. Moreover, thanks to the open nature of the HTML5 the app can be used also on Android through Firefox Aurora – which means it can be accessible on more than one mobile platform. We also use Readability API, which to our knowledge has not been used in the FirefoxOS environment before.

From the very beginning we knew that our app will need a good privacy policy. It was difficult for us to navigate in a new legal environment and therefore iubenda was an obvious choice for a number of reasons: it offered an easy, modular way to build it; it has experience with mobile apps’ policies and, most importantly, it is constantly updated to include new services. We also knew, that our app will evolve together with the new features and changes in the operating system itself – our policy had to be easily customizable on the fly.

Mozilla’s documentation on Privacy Policy is, as already mentioned, limited. Nevertheless it gives a few very important points, which in its core have a simple principle: the user controls what is happening with the data. The guiding documents are threefold: the Firefox browser Privacy Policy, the Firefox OS one and the everything.me, which powers the dynamic app search in the Marketplace. Additionally the Marketplace itself has a separate document outlining the procedures in this area.

From a developer point of view this situation is quite confusing. The guides are short and more user-oriented. A centralized document, outlining everything in one place would be a great help, together with an easy to access guide on how to fulfill all the requirements.

From the start we wanted to host the Privacy Policy externally. Firefox OS Marketplace gives you the option of either hosting the Policy inside the app page or providing users with a link to it and that is what we did.

firefox-os-privacy-policy

The privacy policy in the app’s settings

We adopted the same approach both inside the app and in the Marketplace. We believe that the format offered by iubenda gives user a clear overview and we found it beneficial to keep it outside the app. That way we are able to make most out of the iubenda auto-update feature and also preserve the format of the Policy.

firefox-marketplace-privacy-policy

The privacy policy in the Firefox Marketplace as a link

What’s in store for the future?

We hope that Manana will bring the joy of the distraction-free reading experience to millions of users and enthusiasts who will choose FirefoxOS. In the future we would like to work with Mozilla to bring other apps to the platform, based on the same principles that we employed while building Manana. We also want to share our developing experience with others by presenting it in our latest project – devcharm which has now entered a trial phase. And we will of course work together with iubenda to provide our users with the best possible view of our Privacy Policy.

Go ahead and try Manana here.


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