The Skyfire mobile browser has gone through some dramatic design changes in the last year. The most recent version released on Wednesday continues to adjust Skyfire's visual composition--as well as its guts and performance--on Windows Mobile touch-screen and standard phones.
The changes to the navigation menu was the first thing we noticed when we booted up Skyfire 1.5 on an HTC Touch Diamond 2. Skyfire has replaced the Menu key and back button navigation with gray, balloon-like buttons that strike us as a hybrid of Opera Mobile browser and Internet Explorer Mobile. The back arrow, Home screen button, zoom control, favorites tab, and Options icons are more finger-friendly for sure, and take a cue in both looks and content from Skyfire's two strongest rivals. We also spotted two unfamiliar tabs at the top to show your recent searches and popular queries overall.
Also like Opera Mobile browser, Skyfire 1.5 gets a welcome Full Screen mode--for touch-screen users only--that you can access from the Options icon on the navigation bar. Tap it to enter full-screen mode, which hides the nav bar so you can see more screen. Tapping the screen again shows the single Options icon, from which you can exit full-screen mode.
Skyfire has not been idle behind the scenes, either. Version 1.5 has updated to Flash 10 and Silverlight 1.5, the latest stable versions of Adobe and Microsoft software for delivering rich media, like videos. Skyfire also introduces full native support for VGA and wVGA resolutions on Windows phones, smooth scrolling, and new behavior for the text field that keeps it visible on touch-screen phones when the virtual keyboard is engaged. Skyfire also boasts faster speeds, thanks to improvements to its server.