What’s New In The Nokia Belle Browser

Nokia Belle Browser - Geolocation prompt Nokia Belle Browser - Facebook Check In

Nokia Belle comes with a new 7.4 version  of the Webkit based Nokia browser. Here’s a run down of what I’ve been able to find that’s new and improved in latest browser.

Geolocation support. Sites can now use a Web standards compliant Javascript API to request the user’s location. When a site makes a location request the browser prompts the user if they wish to allow or deny the request (image above, left). This feature works with many existing sites including local search engine Local.com and restaurant finders from fonefood, Sonic Drive In and Open Table. It also works with “Nearby” feature in Google+ and with Facebook Check In at touch.facebook.com.

<video> Support The browser now supports the HTML5 video tag using the H.264/MPEG-4 format. There’s no WebM or Ogg Theora support.

Nokia Anna Browser - Main Menu and On Screen Buttons Nokia Belle Browser - Main Menu and Bottom Navigation Bar

User Interface changes: In Belle (image above, right) there is a new full width action menu at the bottom of the screen with buttons for forward, back, bookmarks, windows and menu. Although the new menu does take up some precious screen real estate, I like having one click access to the Windows menu and Bookmarks.

The new menu bar also fixes a couple of problems with Anna’s semi-transparent back and menu buttons (image above, left). The Anna browser’s buttons had a tendency to intercept taps intended for links and buttons at the bottom of the page itself. And because the white portion of the buttons wasn’t transparent they often covered up text. The new action menu is below and independent of the actual page so it doesn’t interfere with it at all.

Main Menu changes: The main browser menu (image above, right) now has new buttons to display your most visited sites and to go to the RSS feed list.

Text Copy: The Nokia browser finally lets you copy text from a web page and paste it into a Web form or to another app. To copy text, do a long press on the start of the text you want to copy and drag to the end. I found this feature a bit hard to use compared with the way copying works in the Android, iOS and Opera browsers . In the Nokia browser you have to select text in a single move. As soon as you lift your finger a dialog appears asking if you want copy or do a web search using the selected text.  Other browsers give you grab handles that let you resize the selection before copying which makes it easier to get precisely the text you want.

Nokia Belle Browser - Copy Text Nokia Belle Browser - HTML5Test

There are also some new gestures

  • Double tap at botton of screen – go to page bottom.
  • Double tap at top of screen  – go to page top.
  • Long pressing a link now shows a context menu that lets you open the link in a new window or copy the URL to the clipboard.

More HTML5 Support Thanks to the addition of geolocation and <video> support, the Belle browser scores 157 on HTML5test.com (image above, right). While this is still near the bottom of the back among modern smartphone browsers, it’s a signifigant improvement over the Anna Browser’s 104 score.

To sum it up, I’m pleased with the new browser, the UI changes are all positive and the addition of badly needed Geolocation support is an obvious win. Page loading and rendering speeds got a huge boost with the Anna browser and seem about the same in the latest version.  There is absolutely no reason not to upgrade to Belle, the browser improvements are solid and are just a small piece of the many positive changes Belle brings to legacy Nokia (aka Symbian) smartphones.


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