Firefox/Features/Sync Setup Improvements

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Sync Setup Improvements
Stage Landed
Status Complete
Release target Firefox 10
Health OK
Status note Landed in Aurora


Product manager Jennifer Arguello
Directly Responsible Individual Jennifer Arguello
Lead engineer Allison Naaktgeboren
Security lead Yvan Boily
Privacy lead `
Localization lead Axel Hect
Accessibility lead `
QA lead Tracy Walker
UX lead Alex Faaborg
Product marketing lead Jaclyn Fu
Operations lead `
Additional members Ibai Garcia (SUMO)

Open issues/risks

  • Should we wait until the desktop and mobile work is done before touching the copy and videos?

Stage 1: Definition

1. Feature overview

Sync is a service to keep the Firefox experience consistent across multiple devices. The adoption rate of new Sync users has plateaued and the percentage of single-device Sync users is the majority of users. The two main themes of this feature are to increase the adoption rate for Sync and to increase the number of Sync users with multiple devices (primarily mobile devices). The goals below represent the findings of Sync setup usability testing and the culling of various feedback channels.


  • Decrease non-essential messaging in the setup flow
  • Ensure the user is confident that Sync will keep synced data secure and private
  • Let the user know that Sync is set up and working
  • Make Sync setup on a mobile device more accurately reflect user expectations

2. Users & use cases

User: The user is a Firefox 4.0+ user. She/he has multiple devices that she/he would like to keep in Sync. The user might span the spectrum of technical aptitude.

  • A user would like to set up Sync on one desktop computer. We care very little about this case: we wish to discourage the use of Sync (as implemented, at least) as a backup service.
  • A user would like to set up Sync on two desktop computers
    • Non-Sync user flow
    • Sync user flow.
  • A user would like to set up Sync on a mobile device
    • Non-Sync user flow
    • Sync user flow
    • Typically starting from the mobile device.

3. Dependencies

  • Home Tab on desktop. Our new setup flow relies on a consistent location for a "Pair a device" link on both desktop and mobile. Some interaction with Firefox team needed. The feature page for that is Add Sync to Home Tab
  • Updated flows from faaborg. (Estimated: second week of August.)

4. Requirements

  • Improve wording.
    • Provide reassurance of security
    • Eliminate identified sources of confusion
    • Demonstrate value.
  • Provide a consistent location for pairing two devices, complete with appropriate wording to encourage two-device use of Sync.
  • Show progress during Sync setup completion.
  • Rework setup flow to follow pairing expectations.


  • Update support documentation (Michael Verdi?)
    • Needs flows (Jen)
  • Update blogs (Jen)
    • Video?
  • Update web page copy (Caitlin? Jen?)
  • Update l10n Sync pages (Axel?)


  • Modal setup wizard page.
  • Decide on captcha elimination/reduction.
  • User-customized Firefox button for "my browser" feel.


  • Eliminate mention of Sync Key/Recovery Key. We need an alternative channel for that before we remove it; just be less patronizing.
  • Improve Firefox Home setup experience.

Stage 2: Design

5. Functional specification

Bug tree:

  • Rename Sync Key to Recovery Key. bug 656492.
  • "Pair this device":
  • Progress reporting:
    • Upload on desktop. bug 675822.
      • Lives in a "first sync status page" tab, opened after setup.
    • Download on mobile. bug 675824.
      • Waits for upload from other client to server. Indeterminate progress bar.
      • Regular progress bar once download completes.
      • Explicit exit from status page, but don't need to wait for completion.
    • Download on desktop (related to both):
      • Second desktop should start downloading as soon as second computer is connected.
  • Reworked flow. bug 675823
    • Desirable: land with "Pair this device" on Home Tab.
    • Maintain some method to asynchronously set up two devices: the "two desktops in different places" scenario. Single point of entry with a get-out clause: "I'm not near my other device".
    • Attempt to pair/join via create account flow: help users who get lost. Solicit email prior to that fork.
    • Delay mobile device sync until desktop has synced. J-PAKE channel notification?

6. User experience design

Bug for updated flows: bug 675813

Stage 3: Planning

7. Implementation plan


8. Reviews

Security review


Privacy review


Localization review




Quality Assurance review


Operations review


Stage 4: Development

9. Implementation


Stage 5: Release

10. Landing criteria

  • Jen to provide updated setup flow to Support.
  • Ibai to update support docs.
  • en_US copy to l10n team.
  • Update Sync pages (inc. l10n).
  • Update blogs for changes.

Feature details

Priority P1
Rank 999
Theme / Goal `
Roadmap Sync
Secondary roadmap User Experience
Feature list Services
Project `
Engineering team Sync

Team status notes

  status notes
Products ` `
Engineering ` Sketch notes from mcoates and ibai: Services/Sync/SetupConfusion.
Security sec-review-active dchan
Privacy ` `
Localization ` `
Accessibility ` `
Quality assurance ` `
User experience ` `
Product marketing ` `
Operations ` `