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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Skyfire on S60 3rd - wooHOo!

Alright, so back in January (this year, 2008) Skyfire announced they were working on a new web browser for mobile devices. This browser was supposed to put the iPhone to shame, with significantly faster rendering and inclusion of Flash Video, as well as ajax and java script.

They claimed (still do, matter of fact) that this would deliver "The PC Web. Real Fast. On Your Phone."

GREAT! bring it on!
well - Rome wasn't built in a day, and so Skyfire wasn't either. It's still in beta. Windows Mobile users who signed up for the beta have been able to run early builds for a couple months. Good for them, I'm not one of 'em.

Not one of 'em... well, the definition I gave actually applies to me as well. I have been able to download the WinMo version for months. I just haven't done so. Why? I'm deathly allergic to Microsoft. They could do EVERYTHING perfectly, and I'd still have to stay away - at this point, it's not them but me: I'm broken. I can't touch a microsoft based device without feeling bile creep up and foam at the back of my mouth.

So why the blog post? Why talk about this at all? -- Silently, without announcements, fanfare or even blogospheric commentary, the Symbian Skyfire beta was released.

WHEN you ask? who knows. I haven't heard anything about this elsewhere at all.

SOO... I've run it. I'll run it some more. I've taken screenshots and observed how well it works - and i'm ready to share. I figure, well, who's gonna read MY PALTRY BLOG? really? i hardly ever post here. i dont think anyone's been here but me... so i've contacted the fine folks at http://noknok.tv -- i've sent them my screen shots. i hope they post something soon.

if not, well i'll post it all here. for the time being, if anyone is searching for info about the symbian version of skyfire, then iv'e got the dirt and i can tell you a few things:

1. it's worth having. it works. even as an early beta i'll be using this instead of S60 Web browser.

2. does what it says on the tin: renders full pages fast and plays flash video content with no hassles. even on my RAM hindered N95-1 i'm able to browse content rich pages far more easily thn i could with the built it browser.

3. not just flash lite, but REAL FLASH. i've been watching Firefly at hulu.com. even over EDGE it's reasonably good (watchable with good audio - but annoying little skips as the bandwidth is a little underwhelming).

4. it's got SOME issues: wifi use is buggy - as of the time i shared info with noknok, i hadn't gotten it to work over wifi yet. at this point, well, i've watched Men In Black from hulu.com completely in wifi, full screen on my N95,for free. excellent watchability in wifi. i wish i had 3G (my nok doesn't do USA 3G freq's).

5. definitely a beta, it crashes from time to time. but it doesn't have the feel of poor software development: the UI is responsive, the app launches and exits as it should - i've yet to have to reboot due to Skyfire misbehaving (in contrast, i couldn't use Nokia Email wihtout rebooting twice a day -- software flaws can EASILY kill the battery too fast or chew up the available RAM and skyfire seems to be free of these critical flaws)

Thats the scoop folks. I've decided that i'll let noknok post my screenshots - i'll wait for them at least until i get a response to this post. you want screenshots and can't find 'em at noknok? comment here and i'll post 'em here.

i'll even post a QIK from an N82 of an actual browsing session - just ask for it and it'll be done.

cheers!
-bit

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This browser crashed about once a day one me and sometimes just froze up completely forcing me to exit. It drained my battery in about 12 hours, even when it's not running. I know it's not only me cause I've heard stories where people are having similar problems. It also tends to lag a lot and it doesn't allow you to personalize settings really. I don't recommend Skyfire and hope that they'll be coming out with a new version soon, that will fix these bugs.

bitflung said...

interesting response, let me bounce back to ya:

1. crashed once a day:
me too - actually more or less often, depending on my connection type. wifi? crashed every few minutes. EDGE? crashes maybe once every dozen times i run the app. if i receive a call while using skyfire via EDGE i'll always crash (and sometimes the phone won't ring). could be this is always the reason for the crash...

2. complete freeze up:
never seen this - are you using the symbian version, or are you running windows mobile? i've heard of this on the windows client (!@#$'ing windows)

3. battery issues are noted as severe on the windows build as well - though i don't see how an app could affect your battery when it's not running - something must be running to do this otherwise it's no different than a text file.

4. yup, lag is an issue. it's been specialized for high throughput at the expense of high latency (my terms, not theirs - but i'd beet if anyone at skyfire reads this they'll be nodding and thinking, "yup"). so, we get long stutters of time when trying to scroll around in a zoomed-in view, but we also get high-quality streaming video with properly sync'd audio. it's specialized for this purpose and i'm ok with that.

5. can't personalize settings:
yeah - i'm sure thats an issue for more people than some might realize. i hope they work on that. i'd love to enable remote tweaks like ad-block, etc - and that's not even feasible in the current client software (has to be done on the remote end)

6. you don't recommend it. fair enough. depending on the intended purpose, i HIGHLY recommend it. it is largely capable of browsing features currently not even attempted by any other browser on te Symbian platform. notably the video streaming features (the advertised purpose of the software). so, for anyone wishing to stream video on their mobiles from standard sites like hulu.com, etc i'd rather recommend this beta product than to simply say, "nope, sorry, can't do that". of course caveats are needed - perhaps underlining the word beta and adding an asterisk with the caption: "REALLY in beta, not just a perpetual naming convention".