While the previous version of the Skyfire 1.5. browser was already very effective at showing Internet pages and streaming video, this upgrade remediates all of the flaws it unfortunately offered anyway: it is a gift from heaven for owners of Windows Mobile devices.
The first of the fresh features to appear in this version is VGA (640-by-480) and WVGA (800-by-480) screen support: it can take complete advantage of the latest high resolution screens available for the most recent devices on the market. Not only is the user interface restored, Skyfire Labs has also provided buttons that are easier to use; full screen mode for the device; and it is now possible to pan the screen in more than one direction.
This browser works on both the Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x telephones, and comes replete with either touch screen or non touch screen versions; it works very well on phones with large, high resolution screens.. In order to download it, simply navigate your phone to their website, using your current browser, and follow instructions.
Upon your initial start up you will see a Start page brought up to date, offering fast access to all your social networking accounts; bookmarks; email; and browsing history. You will be able to post things like status updates to both your Facebook and Twitter accounts right from here, without having to log in to either of these networks. The address bar at the top of the page doubles up as both a URL entry area and search area, and a Refresh button. The toolbar at the bottom of the page come equipped with an extra 5 icons: Full Menu; Back; Zoom; Home; and Bookmarks. Whenever you load a new page the chrome will vanish, allowing you to use the whole screen for your browsing needs.
Pages can be flicked around to enable easier scrolling, and, since they have inertia, they will come to a stop once you lift your finger up. The zoom controls consist of basic plus and minus size, and this makes it easier to attain the text size you desire. It has also moved the text entry box so that it is still visible even if you accidently cover it when your simulated onscreen keyboard pops up.
It does not have a very dense Settings page: it allows you to show drag controls when you are shown a screen; set Skyfire 1.5 as your default browser; clear both stored cookies and your browsing history with 1 click; and toggle the search bar.
When its performance was tested on the Glisten, it outdid the competition: Internet Explorer 6. Its server connections have been optimized, so page rendering and response time are greatly speeded up. When connected via Wi-Fi, this browser managed to load the USA Today homepage for desktops in 10 seconds; the New York Times homepage was loaded in 16; and the PCMag in 15. When you compare these times to those of the IE 6 Mobile, which allowed 72 seconds to lapse before USA Today homepage uploaded, and a total of 118 seconds for the PCMag, the enormous difference becomes marked.
Although this browser makes use of kind of optical illusion to make it appear that pages are uploaded extraordinarily fast, it actually only uploads the part of the page that you can see: when you begin to scroll, the browser heads back to the electronic network to get the rest of the information. When using Glisten’s faster connection this didn’t pose a problem, but the delay became more apparent when using EDGE on the HD2.
During these tests the IE6 crashed; it also displayed a dialog regarding information being sent to the internet which needed 3 attempts to click through. It also, despite cookie clearing and restarting, did not manage to complete uploads of the New York Times or Hulu homepages.
The Skyfire 1.5 was more than able to render more complex tasks, and HTML pages displayed accurately; YouTube videos played swimmingly as well: after some legwork, the application realized that I needed a full screen view and promptly delivered it. However, Hulu videos would not play.
Despite all these good aspects, the browser is not absolutely perfect, it’s most notable problem being that it is completely dependent on accessing servers belonging to Skyfire. Should you not be able to access these, you will not be able to browse at all, but Skyfire is working on this problem. It also does not support either multiple window support or tabbed browsing, ultimately remaining a browser that is only capable of single tasks.
There are now a number of options open to users of the Windows Mobile device: despite the fact that the previous 8.65 version cost $24, this one is free. Opera does still afford the best page rendering and a tabbed interface, but it does not provide Skyfire 1.5’s streaming video support; Flash support; or Silverlight support either. While the Internet Explorer 6 does support basic Flash it is still painfully slow and cannot handle the more complex HTML elements for the desktop. When scrolling around on larger pages the Opera and IE6 stand out because they do not rely on a central server, but, despite its penchant for optical illusion, it’s marvelous streaming media abilities and superlative page rendering makes it the top choice for browsers on a Windows Mobile device.