Earlier this year, we took a look at the Beta version of the mobile browser Skyfire for Windows Mobile Touch and non-Touch Screen phones. We liked the potential Skyfire had but found it to be noticeably slower than the competition. Well the developers over at Skyfire have been working diligently to iron out all the bugs on the mobile browser and today released Skyfire 1.0 for Windows Mobile Touch and non-Touch Screen phones.
According to Skyfire,
"Skyfire users can customize the start page with RSS feeds from their favorite websites. In addition, they can integrate their Facebook and Twitter accounts to import status updates and tweets, and easily publish their status to these networks. Skyfire is the only mobile browse to share and publish any web page to Facebook and Twitter networks with one click."
Follow the break for some screen shots and our impressions on the Skyfire 1.0.
The major drawback of the Beta version we tested earlier was the lack of zip Skyfire presented in that pages loaded noticeably slower than other mobile browsers. Skyfire 1.0 page load speeds have improved and the browser moves along with a little more zip than the Beta. In downloading the WMExperts website on my AT&T Fuze using Skyfire, the complete download took 14 seconds. Using Opera Mobile, the download took 20 seconds.
While page load times improved there is a noticeable slow down whenever you pull up the browser's menus, go to enter text on a website (e.g. search fields) or checking an option box. It took 3-5 seconds from tapping on the WMExperts.com search field and being allowed to enter the text. These delays aren't consistent but noticeable.
Granted, download speeds aren't entirely dependent on the application with network speeds and reception playing a significant role in the scheme of things. But the delays in entering a username or keyword in a search box aren't noticeable with other browsers (if they exist at all).
Skyfire does a lot on the server side to reduce the workload on your phone and data connection. The delays in entering text into search, username, password, and other fields may be related to the server side work Skyfire does.
Key Features of Skyfire 1.0
While performance has improved from the Beta version, here is some of what Skyfire 1.0 offers:
- Thumbnail interaction: Now you can click on links immediately after the page loads without having to zoom in. This enhancement is especially helpful for high resolution phones, and for familiar sites where you know right away where you want to click.
- Improved Zoom: Double-tap or double-click to zoom over any element, including links, images or videos. The zoom interaction is smoother and more responsive as well.
- Enhanced Navigation: When you navigate back or forward, you return to the last viewport (e.g. zoom level and portion of the page). Skyfire remembers even the viewport when you select a page from your history. You also have shortcut keys, (9) for forward and (7) for backward navigation.
- Fast start: Skyfire changed both the sequence and behavior of the browser launch so you get started as quickly as possible. You can type a search or URL in the Superbar while Skyfire is connecting in the background. Start up was noticeably faster with 1.0 than the Beta versions.
- Reconnect to last state: When you leave Skyfire in the background Skyfire will disconnect to preserve battery life. When you restore the browser it will reload the same page to the same zoom level and focus.
- Enhanced search results: Google results now include video, news articles, local results all blended on a single results page and ordered by relevance. Vertical search categories are still available.
Known issues with Skyfire 1.0
Skyfire does have some known issues with this release which include:
- HTTP Authentication (e.g. the native browser dialog that asks for username and password when going to certain sites) is not supported.
- Text entry into Flash or Silverlight plug-ins is not supported.
- Skyfire does not support ‘local storage’ mode for plug-ins. Thus the following will be affected: Netflix media player, Pandora media player, Rhapsody media player.
As expected, Skyfire 1.0 is a much better application than Skyfire Beta. The application itself is very stable with no crashes, lock-ups, or ghostly possessions noted in the pre-release copy that was tested.
Skyfire's homepage has the potential of being a good, one-stop source for news and information with the ability to add RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter integration, and other news feeds. The entire layout of the home page from the RSS feeds to the tabbed history and bookmarks pages is a nice design feature.
Skyfire's speeds are up to a respectable levels and a vast improvement from the Beta. There were some delays in page loads but no slower than any other browser. Unfortunately, interaction speeds (using text fields such as "search", checking options, customization commands, etc.) are noticeably slow. It also took a considerable amount of time to pull up the browser's history.
Skyfire has taken a major step in the right direction with Skyfire 1.0. If the "interactive" delays can be addressed it would be hard to overlook Skyfire for your mobile internet needs. As it stands now, Skyfire 1.0 is worth trying. You can check it out yourself by downloading a free copy here.
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