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A look at Skyfire's Web 2.0 mobile browser

The latest beta release of the browser, already available to US and Canadian users, has arrived in the UK
skyfireloading.jpg
1 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNet

The Skyfire mobile browser has finally come to the UK, albeit in beta form.

The web browser is notable for being able to natively handle Web 2.0 content, such as that based on Flash. Rivals such as Opera Mini tend to rely on website creators, such as YouTube, to make optimised versions of their site for the specific browser.

The pictures in this gallery show Skyfire working on a Nokia E71. A range of Nokia Eseries and Nseries handsets are supported, particularly those running the third edition of Series 60. Phones running Windows Mobile versions 5, 6 and 6.1 are also supported, at both QVGA and VGA resolutions.

According to the company's Facebook page: "Supporting the BlackBerry is definitely on Skyfire's roadmap".

skyfirehome.jpg
2 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNet

Before this week's release of version 0.85.0.7935, Skyfire was only available in the US and Canada.

Country-specific versions are being rolled out, as the above shot of the UK homepage shows.

skyfirebookmarks.jpg
3 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNet

Skyfire has a tabbed bookmarks system, dividing favourite pages into various categories.

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4 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNet

Skyfire is arguably better at rendering web pages for mobile screens than many of its rivals.

This picture of ZDNet UK's main news page shows rendering that matches that which you would find on a desktop. Even rich media advertisements are properly displayed.

Also visible in this photo is the roaming red box that allows you to zoom in. The zoomed-in shot is shown in the next picture.

skyfirezdzoomed.jpg
5 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNet

A zoomed-in image can take a short while to resolve on Skyfire, although the final quality is excellent.

The time the image takes to resolve could also be a result of the network connection being used. In Thursday's tests at ZDNet UK, a cellular 3G connection was used, although Skyfire also works over Wi-Fi.

skyfiredb.jpg
6 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNet

Skyfire excels at running video and audio from the internet, although connectivity issues can hamper smooth playback.

One welcome feature is Skyfire's recognition of embedded players, such as the music player on MySpace or the video player used for ZDNet UK's own Dialogue Box show, as shown above.

The zoom-in box will recognise and latch onto a media player, making it full-screen if the user chooses to zoom in.

Those wishing to try out the beta version of Skyfire can get it by typing get.skyfire.com into their existing mobile browsers. However, it is best to remember that, being a beta, the version is slightly buggy and can cause the phone to crash.

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