Skyfire 3.0 Debuts on Android, May Not Be Free for Long
Skyfire has updated its browser clients for both iOS and Android, with iPhone users getting a small bump to 2.1 and Android owners seeing a full version upgrade, to Skyfire 3.0. Additions to the $3.99 iPhone browser are fairly minor, and include quick access to Twitter streams, more ways to share content, and the ability to tap-and-hold a link to open it in a new tab. The company also claims to have increased the number of compatible sites — although we still had lots of trouble getting content to play — while at the same time improving bookmarking, mobile/desktop mode switching, and cookie support.
Skyfire 3.0 for Android, on the other hand, is a completely new product: one that is so married to everyone’s favorite social networking site that it now goes by the name “Skyfire 3.0 with Facebook Connect.” As you can probably imagine, FB integration runs deep now, with Skyfire adding a dedicated “like” button to the navigation bar, as well as native portal access and a feature called Fireplace Feed Reader that aggregates all the links, images, and videos posted by a user’s friends. There’s also a new “popular” button that brings up content from a given site which is getting play on Facebook, with friend recommendations taking priority.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of the Android announcement comes at the very end, in reference to availability: “Skyfire 3.0 with Facebook Connect for Android is now available for free for a limited time only in the Android Market.” Free for a limited time? That sure sounds to us like they’re going to start charging for this version of the browser, too; with the sunlighting of Windows Mobile and Symbian support by the end of the year, Skyfire seems to have moved to a paid business model with the quickness. Unfortunately, even a few bucks feels like too much to spend on a product that just isn’t very good at its flagship feature, which is playing Flash videos. Ever since Skyfire abandoned cloud-based proxy browsing for regular on-device rendering, it lost so much functionality that it’s barely the same title which showed so much potential back in 2006.