Skyfire mobile browser gets full release

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Skyfire mobile browser gets full release

Skyfire has released the full version of its mobile browser that promises to bring a PC-like web experience to smartphone users.

Available now as a free download, Skyfire displays web pages as they would appear on a PC, and allows users to zoom in to read text in a similar fashion to the Safari browser on Apple's iPhone.

The browser also supports active content such as Flash animations, Java, Silverlight and Ajax, enabling users to view videos such as the content found on YouTube.

Skyfire 1.0 currently runs on handsets with Windows Mobile 5 and 6, and Symbian phones with Nokia's S60 platform.

A BlackBerry version is planned for later this year, the company said.

The release version has been overhauled to improve performance following user feedback from the beta versions, according to Skyfire business development vice president Raj Singh.

"The top two user complaints were that it took a long time to start up and it was slow when zooming in and scrolling, so we attacked those issues," he said.

Zooming is now "instant", according to Singh, and scrolling around a web page is much faster and smoother.

Skyfire uses a proxy server to render web pages and deliver them to the browser, offloading much of the processing work from the phone's CPU.

Other enhancements include an on-screen volume control during video playback, and expanded support for social networking sites on the startup page. In the previous beta, Skyfire updated this into a customisable portal linking users to RSS feeds including those from Facebook and Twitter.

Skyfire claimed that the browser's support for a full web experience is generating lots of interest from partners, such as mobile networks looking to preinstall the browser on handsets they sell to customers.

The firm also has a number of web site partners that "appreciate Skyfire because it enables their site to work properly on a phone", said Singh.

Skyfire is also the only mobile browser that works with Google's Street View, according to Singh.

"The litmus test is whether a mobile browser can render Google Maps. It is quite a complex piece of Java code," he said.

Skyfire is already looking to improve the browser in the future. The company intends to add more social networking features, such as enabling users to upload photos and see their buddies online, and is working on a full-screen playback mode for video.

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