After months of private beta, Skyfire, a free mobile browser lauded for offering support for Flash, AJAX, and other goodies generally reserved for PC browsers, has opened its doors to the public. Just in time for the resulting stampede of new users, they’ve also introduced a fresh release of the browser for Windows Mobile complete with a handful of new features.
(Update: Though they’ve taken the beta public, Skyfire is still only for US residents for the time being. We asked them when it would open up to folks outside of the states, and while they couldn’t pin it on a specific date, they did say it would happen “in weeks, not months.”)
Amongst the new gems within todays v0.8 release is the “Super Bar”, a beefed up version of the standard address bar. Borrowing an idea made popular by the Opera and Chrome browsers, the Super Bar takes on the search role whenever a keyword is typed in rather than a URL. If you typed in “Cake recipes”, for example, Skyfire would return (delicious) tab-seperated results from both Google and Yahoo. As the Super Bar features auto complete, you’d probably only have to type “Cake Rec” before it could finish the rest for you. Furthermore, you can opt to put a Super Bar directly onto your WinMo Home Screen to act as a search/address launch pad.
The new release also introduces content sharing by way of SMS. If you come across a page you want to send to a friend, two taps in the menu will bring up a text message pre-prepped with a forwarding URL short enough to fit while allowing some room for explanation. They’ve also optimized Skyfire across the board while adding in a few new options: video playback quality has been improved, text automatically resizes to fit the width of the screen when zoomed, and content from the page can now be downloaded to the device’s storage.
Overall, it’s a solid update to an already impressive product. Supporting Flash, Silverlight, Quicktime, and Windows Media, Skyfire’s playback capabilities alone more than make it a stalwart contender in the cross-platform mobile browser battle, so new features are like little bonus incentives to further pull me away from Opera Mobile. While version 0.8 is currently only available for Windows Mobile, Skyfire assures us that the S60 release isn’t far behind.
You can now get Skyfire, sans waiting list or beta codes, at their site.