Most of the browsers for the Android mobile platform are serviceable, but each one has some drawback. Skyfire for Android stands out as one of the best in this category — even in beta it blows away the competition. Here’s what you should know about version 2.0 of one of the fastest mobile browsers available.

Skyfire 2.0’s features

Skyfire 2.0 offers some unique features to the mobile browser application, which include the following:

Optimized video: From the browser you can launch a mobile-specific, optimized video experience. Although the videos might take a while to load, and the quality will be directly related to your connection speed, I find the video offered in Skyfire to be much better than video I’ve seen in any other mobile browser.
Social Sharing: From Skyfire you can share websites with your various social network accounts. (This is very similar to Google Chrome’s Share button.) From this button (Figure A), you can share any page on Friend Stream, Twitter, Facebook, and more. To get to this menu, simply click the device’s Menu button.
Figure A

Smart Recommendations: This button will offer related content that will make mobile browsing easier. To find recommended content, click the mobile Menu button and then click the Explore button (Figure B). Not every site will be a hit, but sometimes you will find a gem.
Figure B

Bookmarks: As with any browser, Skyfire contains a bookmark feature.
Tabbed browsing: Is it possible to use a browser anymore without tabbed browsing? I don’t think so, and it appears that the Skyfire developers agree with me.
Load page as: You can tell Skyfire to load the page as either a mobile page (Android) or a standard page (Desktop). It’s easy to switch back and forth between the two.

General browsing

Skyfire has the fastest rendering times and the best near-desktop rendering you will find on a mobile device. When I opened the page on the same phone with three browsers, the page rendered in Skyfire in nearly half the time of the closest browser. Here is the time recorded for each browser:

  • Skyfire: 7.678 seconds
  • Default browser: 17.636 seconds
  • Opera Mini: 13.133 seconds

Also, pages render exactly as you would expect them to in this web browser. The following three screenshots (Figures C, D, and E) show how three browsers render the web page
Figure C

TechRepublic page rendered in Skyfire.

Figure D

TechRepublic page rendered in the default browser.

Figure E

TechRepublic page rendered in Opera Mini.


Give Skyfire a try and see if you agree with my conclusion that it is the best mobile browser for Android.

(Note: Skyfire is also available for the iPhone. You can download Skyfire 2.0 for the iPhone here and see how it looks in this CNET gallery.)