May 102008
 

I finally got my invite to the Skyfire Beta after a long wait for an invite. It was well worth the wait. Skyfire is a new web browser for the Windows Mobile platform that allows you to view “full” web pages. This includes the ability to watch streaming video, flash based content, and full Javascript support. All of the “Web 2.0” style sites that I’ve tested Skyfire on have worked for the most part. This includes personal favorites such as Netvibes and Hulu. I was really surprised that Hulu works. A major feature of the browser is that you can watch Youtube videos, which is cool and all, but I’ve been able to do that for quite some time with the FlashVideoBundle “hack” for Windows Mobile. I was very surprised that Hulu works.

The streaming video portion of the browser is cool. Its a tad choppy on my Verizon EVDO setup, but the audio is clear. I hear it works better on a WIFI connection, but I don’t have WIFI to test it on at the moment. The current version of Skyfire is 0.6 Beta. I am treating this version as more “proof of concept” versus what the final product will look/function like. That may be wishful thinking, but I can’t pass final judgment yet.

UPDATE: I am testing video streaming via WIFI at the moment, and it is indeed much smoother over the WIFI versus EVDO.

Some of the navigation/zooming features are cool on Skyfire, some are not so cool. I believe they will work out some of the bugs in future releases. I think some of the limitations may just be due to the small screens on Windows Mobile based phones. Any of the performance related issues I’ve experienced with Skyfire are probably because of the limited processing power and memory available on Windows Mobile handsets.

Overall, Skyfire looks very promising and is worth signing up for the beta. It will not replace PocketIE for text browsing just yet, but has a lot of potential, especially on future mobile devices.

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