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Sunday, 2 November 2008

Skyfire browser beta available in the USA, Canada, and (with a trick) in the rest of the world

Skyfire Symbian mobile web browser
Skyfire is a new, experimental web browser for your phone that does a lot more than the Symbian browser built into your phone.

Just like Opera Mini, TeaShark, and Ucweb, Skyfire loads your pages through its own proxy server. Skyfire supports Flash, Ajax, QuickTime, video, audio, and other features of the "full" web. You can choose between the full web page and (if available) the mobile version. Skyfire also lets you bookmark pages with the zoom level and cursor position within the page.

However, Skyfire is far from perfect. They still have lots of isses to fix during their beta test. Here's a selection:

- You can't set your own homepage, because the default homepage is filled with links to Skyfire's sponsors. A bad habit that Skyfire shares with browsers like Opera Mini and TeaShark. Well, I guess the money has to come from somewhere...

- No multiline text entry yet, which means you can't use Skyfire for writing forum posts, blog entries, webmail, etc. unless you only send really short messages.

- There's no built-in landscape mode (yet), but if your phone doesn't turn into landscape mode by itself if you rotate the screen, you can use rotateMe or Landscape Pro.

- Skyfire may download your pages fast, but rendering those pages on your screen is slow on phones with limited memory. Skyfire also takes forever to start.
Skyfire Symbian mobile web browser
- Skyfire sucks your battery dry real quick. Because of its slow startup, it's tempting to keep it running. But you better close the program when you're not surfing the web, or your phone will be out of juice real soon.

- Skyfire's proxy server is not as reliable as the proxies of Opera Mini and TeaShark. When your phone can't connect, Skyfire blames your phone connection settings, even when your phone is properly configured and the error is at Skyfire's side.

Currently the Skyfire beta test is officially only for users in the USA and Canada. But if you enter a fake american phone number on the signup page and download Skyfire from their email link, you can use the program no matter where you live. And even with all the bugs that have to be ironed out before the program gets out of beta testing, it's still a good browser that's definitely worth a try.

Update: Skyfire for Symbian is dead.

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