Skyfire Beta for BlackBerry released to testers

Try to compose yourselves, BlackBerry users. We know it’s hard, what with the knowledge that you’re now closer than ever to having a browser on your handsets that isn’t completely abysmal, but do try. Word came through this morning that registered Skyfire BlackBerry testers now have a new version available and ripe for the picking. The beta, version 1.0.0.12304, is said to be a pretty significant improvement over the alpha 2 version though there’s still plenty of work to be done. Patience is a virtue but let’s tell it like it is — we can’t be rid of the BlackBerry browser soon enough so hurry up Skyfire Labs! Hit the jump for the new feature list along with known bugs.

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.

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.
  • “An error occurred while playing media” error message in streaming mode.
  • Sometimes you cannot control volume while in stream mode. This is a known BlackBerry bug.
  • Stale tiles from the previously visited pages show up when scrolling up or down. We’re working on fixes to reduce checkerboards.

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