Bitstream’s Bolt Browser for Android is out of beta and available in the Android Market. I haven’t been able to find a direct download link (needed for users with non-“Google Experience” devices which don’t have the Android Market). Android 2.1 or latter is required. Although labeled 3.0, this is actually the first public release of Bolt for Android. The latest Bolt for Java and Blackberry is 2.5 hence the 3.0 version.
Features of BOLT 3.0 for Android include:
- Server side compression for speed and reduced data usage
- Flash and HTML5 video playback with compression
- Social Tab – currently dedicated for faster sharing on Facebook, allows for even faster sharing of websites, blogs, YouTube videos and status updates, without having to login to Facebook each time
- InstallableWeb Apps for popular services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Wikipedia and more
- Easy to use, intuitive user interface, optimized for Android
I gave Bolt 3.0 a try on my old HTC Magic phone running Android 2.2. Attempting to upgrade over the Bolt Beta gave a “Invalid Certificate” error. After I un-installed the Beta installation went smoothly. The Magic has a slow processor and only 192 MB of RAM (30 MB free at start up). I ran into some issues, including lock ups and videos not playing, which I suspect had more to do with the phone’s limited memory than with inherent defects in Bolt. However, Opera Mini and the UC Browser work without problems on this phone so it appears that Bolt demands significantly more system resources than competing proxy browsers.
On sites that Bolt did work with, most pages loaded quickly, scrolling was fluid and smooth, and rendering was generally accurate other than some minor overlapping of page elements. I was disapointed by the quality of images in Bolt. Although I had image quality set to the highest level in the browser’s settings, most images were not very sharp. See the screen shots for some examples of overlapping or truncated text and low image quality (click a screenshot to zoom to full size).
I will retest Bolt 3.0 on my wife’s HTC Evo and will update this post tomorrow to reflect Bolt’s performance on a modern device.
Update: On an HTC EVO (1Ghz Snapdragon, 512 MB RAM (120 MB free)) I had no problems playing the YouTube and CNN videos that did not work on the Magic. However Bolt still locked up solid when trying to log into the Twitter desktop site and when saving settings in the Dabr Twitter client.
On both phones, Bolt also had problems with Twitter’s mobile site at m.twitter.com, displaying a “Rate limit exceeded” error when attempting to log in. The Bolt Twitter Webapp worked but doesn’t allow you to follow limits in tweets.
At this point Bolt for Android seems very much a release 1.0 product, full of promise but not something I would choose for regular use.