In the past week, we reviewed Skyfire. We also published that the upcoming version of the Opera will let you view youtube videos inside the browser window itself. This clearly shows how powerful the web browsers are becoming every day.
Few years back, Netfront was the only viable Internet Explorer mobile(then, Pocket Internet Explorer) alternative that offered more features than the Internet Explorer mobile. With the introduction of iPhone last year, which offered very robust internet experience forced other internet software houses to make their products better.
Heavy emphasis started to be given on:
- finger friendly UI
- desktop class rendering
- access to desktop sites from the mobile device
Opera Mobile 9.5 paved the way for providing great mobile internet experience to the Windows mobile users. It has been a great success for the windows mobile users as-well-as for the windows mobile brand. Netfront used to be the user’s choice during the non-opera days. After the Opera mobile was launched, it started giving tough competition to the Netfront. It nearly took the whole game away from the Netfront after the release of revolutionary Opera Mobile 9.5.
We all thought Netfront by access was dead as the last official version of Netfront(version 3.3) was released nearly 3 years back! Access did released a couple of betas. Now, after a long period of time, they have come up with Concept version of Netfront browser v3.5. So, does this newly release concept version promises to give users the ultimate mobile experience. Does the Netfront browser holds any chance of regaining it’s lost market share? Read on to find out
I installed the just released Netfront v3.5 concept version from their official site(link here). The installation went ok and the Access site suggests to install it in the main memory as it may cause instability issues if installed in the storage card. Even I have always advised the users to install browsers and today plugins in the main memory.
So, how does the browser performs? Well, it behaves the opposite way most of the current slew of web browsers behave. When you open a web page on the netfront, it opens the page in zoom-in mode. This is unlike Opera mobile(on windows mobile) and Safari(on Apple iPhone and iPod Touch), which open the web page in zoom-out mode. The user then taps into the required section and then the web browser zooms in to that section.
The netfront opens the web page in the zoom out mode. The text is wrapped around the window for easy reading just like Opera Mobile.
Double tapping into any region would pop up a little window which shows you the overview of the page. Then, you can use your finger to move around the various parts of the page.
Whenever you do scrolling, you can also see that the pageMap thumbnail appears on the top-left corner. This lets you scroll up and down.
I did notice some speed improvements over its previous official version, but I found it to be little slow when compared to Opera Mobile. Skyfire seemed to be the fastest, but it follows a totally different approach (processes data at its Skyfire server)
The way the bookmarks are implemented in the new version is simply fantastic. Dragging your finger/stylus in clockwise/anti clockwise direction will take you to the adjacent bookmark. Very nicely done!
What I look out for in the final build?
I’m definitely looking forward to the final version to provide native viewing of youtube videos inside the browser window. You cannot use plugins in the concept version. Also, I would want netfront folks to make the whole UI more finger-friendly. Are they not aware that it is the era of touch-friendly devices? They have made no changes to the UI when compared to the version 3.3.
Also, there is no progress bar which shows the user the progress of the page that has loaded so far.
You can download the latest Netfront v3.5 Concept version (for free right now) from the following link: