Digia have released a beta version of their @Web browser for S60 5th Edition devices (Nokia 5800 and N97, Samsung i8910 HD). Digia @Web is a ‘fully finger controllable, web browser for mobile’. Features include direct page control with finger, multi-window support, URL auto-completion and automatic full screen browsing. Read on for more details and screenshots.
The core concept of the browsing component of @Web is to have overlaid controls (toolbar at the bottom, zoom bar on the right, address bar and window controls at the top), which are automatically hidden after a short period of time. These controls can be bought ‘back’ by tapping on a downward arrow which is always displayed at the bottom of the page. A longer hold on the screen pops up a further menu, the ‘Quick menu’, which gives access to a homepage, settings, and a private browsing mode.
Both of these UI implementations are designed to keep the maximum possible screen space available for web page rendering for the maximum possible time, which reduces the need to scroll around a page.
Other impressive touches include support for URL auto=completion (based on pages you have previously visited), and support for multiple windows. With Digia @Web you can create a new window (or tab) at any time you wish. Thumbnails of currently open windows are shown just below the address bar, allowing you to easily switch between them.
Digia @Web uses the WebKit engine built into the S60 platform. This means it uses the same rendering engine as the built in browser, but uses its own UI and control layer. This means that Digia @Web has kinetic scrolling on the Nokia N97, but not on the Nokia 5800 or i8910. It also inherits the ability to view Flash content and the relatively speedy rendering of the new browser core on S60 5.0.
Digia @Web is buggy; for example the scroll ‘bar’ does not work on the N97 and some softkey button bars have colour misconfiguration. Browser performance is generally fairly reasonable, especially when panning around loaded web pages.
However, Digia @Web for S60 5th Edition, as a beta, is still in its early stages. However @Web offers both a refreshing alternative UI and an extra level of functionality when compared to the standard S60 browser, which means it is well worth keeping an eye on.
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