At CTIA yesterday, Bitstream has released a new version of the Bolt Browser. It's V. 0.94, also called Beta 2. New features include:
- - Significantly improved BlackBerry scrolling speed and control
- - A new 3XL (extra large) magnification mode with content 33.3 percent bigger than in 2XL
- - Double tap approach to select links on touchscreen devices like the BlackBerry storm (eliminates inadvertent clicks)
- - Wi-Fi auto-selection as default option when Wi-Fi is both enabled and available
- - Save and view pages locally on the phone
- - Support for folders in favorites
- - A new landscape viewing feature
- - Improved magnifier dragging in split screen mode on the BlackBerry Storm
- - Improved video quality on mpeg4 capable devices.
- - Lightweight encryption when HTTPS is disabled by the user -- secures the user session by encrypting login and web page data. While not as secure as HTTPS, this offers much better security compared to unencrypted plain text.
- - Improved scrolling speed in image rich pages.
- - Double tap enhancements for switching between split and full screen
- - Improved BlackBerry Storm home page tab clicking
- - A user preferences page to reduce menu clutter - especially good on the BlackBerry since there we utilize the native menu structure (without sub-menus)
0.94 offers a nice set of feature and performance enhancements. I especially like the ability to save pages for offline viewing. It works well and allows you to specify the folder to save to. Pages are saved in some sort of binary format that seems specific to Bolt.
Bookmark folders are a nice enhancement although the implementation is a little clunky (see 2nd image). Folders appear at the bottom of the bookmark list and it's not possible to move them. When you click a folder to open it, Bolt jumps back to the top of the list and you have scroll back down to the bottom to see the folder's contents.
Scrolling does seem a little faster, although scrolling speed was never really an issue on my Nokia N95-3. I was really eager to try Beta 2 on my three year old BlackBerry 7100i where scrolling was unbearably slow with previous Bolt releases. Unfortunately the new release doesn't seem to work at all on the 7100i. It fails on start up with "Class javax.microedition.media.Player.Listen not found".
I noticed an undocumented new feature. HTTP Basic Authentication is now supported. Basic authentication is a quick and dirty way of password protecting parts of a website. I use it on WapReview to limit access to test and administrative pages. With Bolt now supporting Basic Authentication I can finally use it to edit posts, approve comments and make backups.
Another undocumented change should please developers of sites delivering device specific content like themes and applications. Bolt in mobile view now sends the same User Agent header as the phone's built in browser. Previous versions used a hard-coded Nokia 3250 User Agent making it impossible to identify the handset.
Overall I continue to be impressed with Bolt. The latest release seems consistently fast and rock stable. I'm glad to see the Bolt team continuing to adding usability enhancements and new features.
If you have an older version of Bolt it should prompt you to upgrade as soon as you try to open a URL. When it prompts you do want to say yes. If you decline the prompt Bolt won't ask you again for 24 hours. If that happens to you and you don't want to wait or if you are a new user just visit boltbrowser.com/download.html and enter your name and email address. You will receive instant access to the download page as well as an email with a link to the download.