The good folks at Skyfire have been hard at work trying to get the BlackBerry version of their browser primed and ready for release. Beta testing at this point has not been without its bumps though and while work moves forward, bugs and kinks are still indeed being worked out through testing.
You can check out the latest feature improvements and known bugs below. Some are to be expected and some of the changes are just simply awesome, especially the option of using Skyfire as the browser to launch when clicking on a link - this is not the option to set it as default, but it's close enough to not complain as a menu item is added when hovering over thinks that allows you to choose "Switch to Skyfire" which will launch Skyfire instead of the native BlackBerry browser. Read on for more information and a few screenshots.
Some of the features we did add:
- 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.
- 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.
So far, I can same I am pleased with the SkyFire browser. Is it ready for primetime yet? Oh heck no. It still suffers from some serious memory issues at this point but to be fair, Skyfire did advise that all would not work right on 5.0 OS which I am running. That said though, they did welcome users to try it, if running 5.0 and the memory issue was still much a problem.
Skyfire has great potential for future releases there is no doubt about it. But at this point, I can't say that I would indeed use it on a regular basis as it stands. But hey, that's what beta testing is for.