With over 2 million downloads to its name, Skyfire is pitched as a specialist video and all-in-one social media browser that optimises Flash video for Android viewing and crunches multimedia on the fly for immediate consumption.
Facebook integration is a given and allows you to roam the web, flagging up content as you go to recommend to friends.
But can this plucky challenger beat off its accomplished competition, particularly our top-rated Dolphin HD browser?
You can’t help but warm to Skyfire on startup, with its clever icon bar and bright, primary colours. The first job? Log into Facebook and start ‘liking’ across the web like there’s no tomorrow. Sadly, logging in proved to be quite the chore. Four attempts later – no joke when you’re stabbing at a virtual keyboard – and we were in. Once you’ve got that out of they way, though, integration is seamless, although there’s no sign of hulking social media colossus Twitter. No sign yet, anyway.
From the word go the progress bar running across the top of the page had us stumped. It goes against everything that is good and holy in the world. It’s counter-intuitive and feels as if it’s only be put there as a talking point. As if to balance that out, however, the desktop/mobile tab that allows you to switch your default browser view is a creation of rare beauty. Horse for courses, then.
It’s a solid effort. Design-wise, there’s something a little amateurish about Skyfire, but we shouldn’t hold an ill-conceived colour scheme against it and when it comes to video, there’s nothing to match it. It goes about converting web video on the fly with considerable aplomb. You’ll occasionally come up against an issue but on the whole it does a superb job of transcoding video and optimising quality. Rarely is video unwatchable and that’s generally due to a poor source file.
On our review device, Skyfire had an irritating habit of quitting out at a moment’s notice. We’ve heard stories of the same happening elsewhere but for the most part, Skyfire remained admirably solid, particularly when you consider just how much image processing it has to take care of while keeping the browsing side of things ticking along.
All things considered, though, Life of Android won’t be dumping its preferred Dolphin Browser HD for the time being, but Skyfire has a host of updates planned for 2011 so we plan to revisit it later in the year to see if the glitches have been ironed out. For now, there are better primary browsers out there, but you might want to run it in tandem with your current web choice.
The Bottom Line
Glitchy but with some winning video and social media features
Version reviewed 3.0.1
All Android versions