Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nokia's S60 OSS browser

Ever since I got the Nokia E61, a little more than a month ago now, the one standout application for me has been the full-fledged KHTML based browser provided on the phone. A lot of people believe Nokia has erred in trying to squeeze the desktop browsing experience onto phones, but I have to say this reaction is probably more a function of what phone you first encounter the browser on. On the QVGA widescreen equipped E61, it's a wonderful experience. The mini-map and thumbnail history functionality (reminiscent of Safari on the iPhone) alone are worth the price of entry in my book. That said, the browser is not without its warts. In order of decreasing annoyance these include :
  • inability to save pages for offline browsing - what were you thinking, Nokia ? Palm managed to do it on their dinky Treos running Blazer, why can't Nokia with a vastly superior underlying framework and OS ?
  • absence of pagewise scrolling - it's downright painful moving about pages bit-by-bit using the joystick. Is it so hard to implement PgDn/PgUp shortcuts ?
  • can't save default magnification setting - I almost always prefer viewing sites at 75% zoom since it seems to fit most of the text on most pages I visit on the screen without my having to scroll horizontally
  • no obvious way to open a second window manually, although the browser does have the capability to have more than one window open at a time
  • mandatory two-handed use - I believe before the last firmware update came around, it was possible to use the numeric keypad on the E61 (for shortcuts) one-handed since the browser put it in numeric mode by default. Ability to use the browser one-handed would be a massive plus, but in practice, having to constantly use the modifier key to use shortcuts is only a minor annoyance.
I believe at least a few of these annoyances have either been fixed or are due to be fixed in the 3rd edition FP1 / FP2 browser releases (anyone using an E65 care to share how the browser has changed ?). Nokia initially planned to tie the browser releases to the hardware upgrades, i.e. the upgraded FP1 browser would only have been available with the the purchase of the E65 or N95. Much protest resulted, and the community's voice seems to have been heard. Jonathan Greene, reporting on the 'Evening with S60' event, seems to indicate that Nokia has decided to release the browser update separately. It's apparently due as early as next month. Despite the initial uproar, no one seems to have picked up on this tidbit and there hasn't been independent confirmation from Nokia of this development.


Looks like All About Symbian has picked up on the browser update news.
Same source though.

And so it begins.

Welcome one, welcome all.