Bla1ze from CB has been using Skyfire for BlackBerry and it looks to be a huge improvement for the BlackBerry internet browsing experience. While the browser is still in Alpha testing, it’s looking really slick.
According to the company, some of the new features added include:
- New Keyboard Shortcuts: We mapped the keyboard shortcuts to be similar to the ones in the native BlackBerry browser to offer a more familiar user experience.
- Switch to Skyfire: Once Skyfire is installed, you’ll see a “Switch to Skyfire” option show up in the options menu of the original Blackberry browser. We added this feature to help when users click on links in email and SMS and end up launching the native browser instead of Skyfire or when you navigate to a web site that is better viewed in Skyfire.
- Text Entry in Thumbnail view: You now don’t have to zoom-in to enter text. We resolved that issue and now enter text directly in the thumbnail view of pages.
- Contextual zoom with camera corners: Similar to the other Skyfire platforms, we now support contextual zoom. Thus we detect areas of interest (say articles or images) and allow you to zoom-in to areas easily by fitting the area of interest to the screen dimensions.
- Faster zooming: You’ll see a great improvement in your ability to zoom. Unlike Alpha 2, the page displays text at all zoom levels, without any redrawing of the screen. Less checkerboards.
Know Bugs In The Latest Build:
- You cannot connect to Skyfire: We still have limited capacity for this Alpha. Thus if enough testers are already browsing at the moment, you might not be able to connect. Simply try again in a few minutes. This is a good reminder as well to NOT share this alpha with anyone (as per NDA), since this would limit capacity even further. The next release will address this.
- General hiccups when entering and exiting streaming mode, including: “An error occurred while playing media” error message when flash object is detected and “streaming” mode activated.
- Slow performance on 2.5G networks: We are still optimizing. You will get the best experience on 3G or WiFi networks for now.
- Error Messages: “An error occurred while playing media” error message in streaming mode.
- Volume Control bug: Sometimes you cannot control volume while in stream mode. This is a known BlackBerry bug.
- Refresh And Rendering Options: Stale tiles from the previously visited pages show up when scrolling up or down. We’re working on fixes to reduce checkerboards.
BlackBerry users have needed a better Internet experience for a long time. Once a leader in mobile Internet browsing, RIM has fallen behind its competitors and is in serious need of a browser capable of handling the rich media experience we have on our desktops. Personally, I think the fact that RIM has opened itself up to 3rd party browsers, gives it an edge over the iPhone and other competitors who are still using their proprietary browsers. By opening up the system to other platforms, there exists the potential to surpass other smartphones.