UC Mobile released a new version of the UC Browser for Java ME last week. It’s 8.0 Beta and is notable for its brand new, much more touch friendly user interface.
This is Beta release, a number of features that were in previous UC Browser versions are not implemented. Here are the ones I noticed
- No save page or open saved pages options.
- No share to Twitter or Facebook option.
- No way to view the copy/paste clipboard.
- No option to remember the last page on exit and restore it when UC is restarted.
- No option to clear browser history on exit.
Previous versions of the UC browser used a text-only hierarchical menu for navigation. Menu items were closely spaced and quite hard to hit accurately on touch only devices. The new interface’s top level menu is a row of good size icons at the bottom of the screen. Sub-menus are still text based but now use a larger font with more spacing between menu items, making them much easier to navigate by touch. The new UC menu design looks very similar to the one that Opera Mini 5.0 and latter employs on touchscreen devices. Unlike Opera which has different UIs for touch and non-touch phones, UC uses the same menu, for both.
I tried UC 8.0 on a Samsung Wave 5800 bada phone and a low end, non-touch feature phone, the Motorola Rambler WX400. It worked well on both phones. The new menu was much easier to use on the touchscreen Wave and at least as usable as the old design on the non-touch phone.
This is also the first UC Browser I’ve tested in a long time that was able to open every site I asked it too. Previous versions have had problems with popular sites including Facebook, Twitter and Google and Yahoo apps that required login. I tried all thoese and many more without a single failure.
UC Browser is a proxy, or server assisted, browser. The cloud server pre-renders pages and optimizes and compresses them by up to 90% before sending them to the phone. If you are on a slow network, pay for data by the KB or MB or have a low data cap you really should be using a proxy browser. Pages will load faster and use much less data.
The leading proxy browsers are Opera Mini, UC Browser and Bolt. For a long time my favorite proxy browser has been Opera Mini, which I prefer mainly because it has the best rendering of the three. Opera also used to have the most stable and reliable proxy browser. But lately Opera Mini’s performance seems to be deteriorating. Too often when I click a link, Opera just reloads the current page or displays a blank screen or an error instead of loading the proper page. Pressing the submit button on web forms in Opera Mini also tends to reload the page without submitting anything. Lately when I have trouble with Opera Mini, I paste the problematic URL into UC Browser and it always seems to work. I’m not quite ready to make UC my main browser, its page rendering, especially in “zoom” or desktop mode, tends to be quite inaccurate and downright ugly, which bugs me. But for loading pages and submitting forms quickly and without a hassle, UC can’t be beat. I recommend it for anyone who needs a good proxy browser on a Java phone.
UC Browser 8.0 is also available for Android v 2.1+ and Symbian 2nd. Ed. and later. Earlier versions of the UC Browser are available for iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. Android, Symbian and iOS versions re available in iTunes, the Nokia Store and Android Market respectively, although the Nokia Store version is 7.9 rather than 8.0. The latest released, for all platforms except the iOS, are available directly from UC at www.ucweb.com (PC) or wap.ucweb.com (mobile).