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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Mobile web browsers: Skyfire scrolls faster, TeaShark remembers, UCWEB has new looks

Skyfire mobile web browser for Symbian S60

Mobile phone web browser Skyfire is not a suitable program for routine web surfing on your phone, but it's good for watching video and listening to music.

Skyfire uses a proxy server which turns web pages into a clickable image format before sending them to your mobile phone. This makes Skyfire consume lots of data and eat lots of battery power, but on the bright side it means that Flash, Ajax, QuickTime, etc. work in Skyfire, and it plays movies from YouTube, DailyMotion, and other video sites.

If you don't live in germany, england, or the usa, you can still listen to radio streams for free because the music is routed through Skyfire's american proxy server.

The latest update speeds up launching the browser and loading pages, the keys "2" and "8" work as "page up" and "page down" shortcuts to make navigating large web pages easier, and Skyfire now tells you when it's dropped a connection (to save battery power) and when it's done reconnecting. Multiline text entry finally works, and there are some minor bug fixes and security patches included in the update as well.

Skyfire is not a browser for "normal" surfing, but you may want to keep a copy of Skyfire on your phone to watch movies that no other mobile browser will show.


Update: Skyfire pulled the plug on its Symbian version. All versions Skyfire for Symbian no longer work.

TeaShark Symbian web browser

Proxy-based data compressing mobile Java web browser TeaShark is a very good replacement for its main competitor Opera Mini. TeaShark features tabbed browsing, blocks many (but not all) ad banners, and its user interface is better than what most other browsers have to offer.

Unlike Opera Mini, TeaShark doesn't reflow text to fit your screen. On the bright side, TeaShark identifies itself as Mozilla running on Linux to web servers, so you'll always get the full web page instead of a watered down mobile version.

New: TeaShark remembers your browsing history and tabs when you exit the program, and restores it to where you left it when you run TeaShark again. To my knowledge TeaShark is the first mobile web browser for Symbian that can do that.

There are some things left to fix, though. TeaShark caches web paes on its server. This speeds up surfing, but it sometimes gets you outdated pages. And although TeaShark lets you search for text on pages, it won't let you copy text to the clipboard for pasting into other programs.

Having a choice between viewing sites "as intended" or reflowed to fit the screen of your mobile phone would be a nice touch too. Maybe in the next version of TeaShark?

TeaShark vs. Opera Mini? Undecided. I use both.


UCWEB Symbian S60 mobile phone web browser

UCWEB is another proxy based data compressing web browser with tabbed browsing. It's made by a very active community of developers. Unofficial translations of new beta test versions of UCWEB appear frequently in between official updates.

There are two versions of UCWEB that work on Symbian phones: a native Symban and a monile Java version. The Symbian version is faster, and it doesn't bother you with the security warnings that pop up very often when you use mobile Java programs.

UCWEB 7.0 (translated into english by akushah) is one of these unofficial test versions. It adds an updated user interface, bug fixes, better download manager, and more. Unfortunately the start page is in chinese, but the rest of the user interface speaks english to you. And it's a native Symbian version, so it's not plagued by the disadvantages of mobile Java.

UCWEB 7.0 unofficial translation by akushah on Mobile Castle

Want the latest official version of UCWEB instead?

UCWEB 6.3 (official english version)

UCWEB extras

If you don't like the built-in search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) of UCWEB, just add some more. Searchlets for UCWEB has 17 places to search, including Wikipedia, Youtube, Google Translate, and the Internet Movie Database.

Searchlets for UCWEB

Patch by jbpseudo to removes the sponsored links from the start page, use Google search without the limitations of the official program, and add an online synchronisation option to the side panel:

jbpseudo's UCWEB patch

Back up your UCWEB bookmarks, settings, and custom shortcuts:

MyUCWEB Backup (Python script, requires Python)

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