Mobile Browsing Heats Up with Skyfire 2.0 for Android

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-04-29

Skyfire Labs, with the goal of making it easier for users to consume content from smartphones the way they currently do from desktop PCs, on April 29 launched the Skyfire 2.0 for Android mobile browser with Flash video playback.

Skyfire 2.0 for Android sports the SkyBar tool bar, which in a nutshell enables users to view Flash video content on Websites, recommends related content and allows users to share content on major social network sites.

This demonstration video shows the SkyBar's Video, Explore and Share icons in action.

If Skyfire encounters a broken embedded video, it fetches the video and converts it to HTML5 video behind the scenes. The demo showed Flash video on being rendered quickly and clearly on Skyfire 2.0, which adapted the picture to the screen.

The Explore button pulls video, news, images and sites from the Web based on what is on the current page. As the name implies, the Share icon lets users send articles or videos to friends and contacts via e-mail, SMS (Short Message Service), Facebook or Twitter.

Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck offered a brief explanation for the SkyBar approach in a statement April 29: "Skyfire 2.0 was built for the way people use social media and the Web today. People are now starting their Web experience by scanning their Facebook and Twitter news feeds. Our new browser allows you to open those links and view the videos that your friends have shared."

Skyfire 2.0 for Android is done entirely in the cloud, which makes it a nice play for Google, which forged Android with the notion of improving the way Web applications run on mobile devices from smartphones to tablets and netbooks.

Skyfire 2.0, like so many browsers these days, is built on a WebKit core. Accordingly, Android phone users will find the functionality they're accustomed to on the default browser for Android 2.0+ phones, such as the Motorola Droid, Nexus One and the new HTC Droid Incredible.

This includes pinch-to-zoom navigation, copy and paste, the ability to open as many as eight browser tabs, and the ability to find text on the page.

Users may read detailed reviews of Skyfire 2.0 for Android on Cnet here and on Engadget here. If they like what they read and see, they can download the new browser free from the Android Market or from Skyfire here.

Skyfire for Android 2.0 comes one day after Mozilla launched a prealpha build of the "Fennec" mobile browser for Android.

Users can install Fennec and test it with an experimental version of Mozilla Weave, which makes browser data portable so users can sync their history, passwords, bookmarks and tabs between the mobile and desktop versions of Firefox.

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