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05 October 2008

The Revolution is Coming!

Ever since the first mobile browser there has been a massive chasm between what a full blown browser can do and what your phone browser can do...

...until now.

The typical problem with the mobile browser is that it requires a stripped down version of a web page. Full blown html/css layouts appear broken and are often unusable. Not to mention that flash doesn't work.

Because of this designers/developers have either created "smart" css pages based on device or they have created mobile versions of their sites all together.

Enter skyfire - a beta browser that takes surfing on your mobile phone to incredible heights. Open it up for the first time and you immediately sense its power. Navigate to your favorite website and watch it magically appear before your eyes - not just the copy and a few images, but the entire site in its correct html/css layout.

Now the problem we run into is that most phones have very small screens with inadequate resolution to handle this new power. Not a problem - skyfire has added a smart zoom feature so you can choose a section of the site to zoom into. Once at the correct zoom level you can access buttons, text entry fields and other page elements. This until phones start adding screen real estate and better resolution.

The Biggest Difference
However, the most incredible thing (to me) about this browser is that it supports flash.

This is HUGE friends!!!! I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for this. Flash entered the progressive download and streaming video field with force and yet the mobile world didn't recognize its importance fast enough. Before you knew it sites like YouTube had millions of viewable clips that the mobile world couldn't access. In fact YouTube even had to create a separate set of video clips (in a different format) for the introduction of the original iPhone just so that phone could use the content. Since then YouTube has even added a mobile version of their site so that I can view clips on my phone using Windows Media Player.

But once Flash is available on phones and other mobile devices all this work will be for not. We can go back to watching the original flash version of the clips (Incredible storage savings for YouTube...)

In Summary
One of the first things I did with skyfire was to go to and try viewing a flash video clip from our media player. The next was to try watching our streaming service. Both worked and the phone/browser combo actually kept up with it. Amazing!

Of course there are kinks to work out. My phone has a hard time controlling audio in skyfire due to my phone (Sprint Motorola Q9c) not having external volume buttons. Because of this I have to zoom into the actual volume control on the website and try to drop the volume.

But for a beta browser these are small things that will only get better when viewed on more advanced phones.

HUGE things are possible because of this browser technology. I can't wait to see what happens next...