Misc news: new Jbed / Jblend distros; PDA controller / Web browser news, Revival out

1. After publishing my review of VirtualCE 4, there have been some changes:

  1. a new MyMobiler version has been released, implementing, for example, manual screen rotation and the ability to hide the Today screen icon
  2. some of the bugs of VirtualCE 4 have been fixed (for example, BMP24 crashing). Hope the developer also finds a way to completely (even from the bottom taskbar) hide the main selector / controller screen as is asked in the above-linked HowardForums thread
  3. Pocket Controller 6 has turned out to support LAN discovery and hiding the connection “bubble†upon TCP/IP connection (as opposed to the ActiveSync one).

2. I, after more than a week’s waiting (see my previous post HERE), still haven’t received any feedback from the Strategy Analytics Inc. folks regarding the lack of Opera Mini in their 5-Star Safari Leads Mobile Browsing Experience, which, in many Windows Mobile users’ (including me) opinion, is the most useful / quickest Web browser for the Windows Mobile platform. And, for other mobile platforms too – on my Symbian Nokia N95 and BlackBerry 8800, I almost exclusively use this browser to access the Web. Not including it in the test makes the entire report pretty hard to depend on – it’s like completely ignoring, for example, Ferrari (a top-performing car) when evaluating the cars of Formula-1.

And, of course, I’ve already elaborated on the bad ranking of Nokia Web (running on Symbian S60 3rd edition devices – that is, NOT on Windows Mobile) and, particularly, Opera Mobile (running on all major mobile platforms). Again and again, if you do learn the dialpad shortcuts and/or, with Opera Mobile running on a dialpad-less Pocket PC, use a third-party tool to assign its key functionalities (accessing favorites, current tabs, back etc.) to Pocket PC hardware buttons, they both become quicker and easier to operate than Internet Explorer. It’s clearly at this point (in addition to the lack of Opera Mini) that Strategy Analytics Inc.’s report severely lacks – it’s evident the test folks didn’t really make an attempt at learning the dialpad shortcuts / configure Opera Mobile for easy and much quicker access / use.

3. Still as far as Windows Mobile and Symbian are concerned, a brand-new Web browser, Skyfire has been released. See some of the related threads HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE (a preview) and HERE. I, as I’m located in Europe, still haven’t had the choice to test it (it's, currently, only available for US residents).

Based on the first reports, it’s based on a similar architecture than Microsoft’s, for the time being, discontinued DeepFish (RIP!) and Thunderhawk’s Java applet emulation. That is, it, in practice, generates an image of the page on the server and transfers this to the client – there isn’t local HTML (?) / Flash parsing / execution on the client side at all. This has both pros and cons, as has already been explained in my Web Browsing Bible.

I REALLY hope Skyfire is WAY better implemented than DeepFish (or Thunderhawk's applet emulation). DeepFish was really slow – not only because its beta servers were, generally, really overloaded, but also because it was implemented using the slowish Compact Framework, as opposed to the much faster Win32 API. Unfortunately, Thunderhawk’s (remote, image transfer-based) Java applet emulation isn’t really capable of emulating running it on the local mobile either. Therefore, I seriously doubt you’ll be able to, say, play fast Flash action games under Skyfire – you’ll still need a local Flash interpreter (only available Opera Mobile or Internet Explorer - and, also, NetFront, but the latter has a pretty buggy and definitely less compatible Flash engine) for that.

I’ll meet the Skyfire folks at Barcelona; hope I’ll be able to play with their browser a bit so that I can quickly test its usability, small screen-friendliness (for example, does it have the same, excellent text boundary recognition engine than that of Opera Mini in full layout mode) and Web standards compliance.

4. There are new builds of both Jbed and Jblend (two excellent MIDlet Managers – see the Java MIDlet Bible for more info). Due to lack of time, I haven’t tested them. Both has been done by Da_G (his projects’ homepage is HERE) and are accessible HERE. Note that you MUST register yourself (it’s free and is done quickly) in order to access the page above (along with the download).

I hope I’ll be able to test them some time – along with the default Blackberry MIDlet manager. (I might wait with testing the latter until version 4.5 of BB OS is released, though.)

5. the new, in addition to the venerable and no-longer-developed Pocket Humanity, Civilization-clone, Revival (see the links to (p)reviews HERE), has been released! It’s a bit pricey for Pocket PC’s (and Palm OS 5 models): $24.95. Fortunately, if you have a non-touchscreen MS Smartphone, you only end up having to pay $15.95 - just like with Symbian S60v3 and UIQ3 devices. Finally, if you have an old Symbian S60 or UIQ device, you’ll only need to shell out $9.95 for the game. Definitely worth a try! Also note that, in addition to the previews linked above, there’s a brand new JAMM one HERE well worth checking out.

Cross-posted to (might be worth checking out for additional info / discussions!): PPCT, AximSite, XDA-Developers - 1, XDA-Developers - 2, BrightHand, HowardForums, SPT, MoDaCo

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