O3Mobi’s Ozone is an interesting new web browser available for S60 3rd Edition Feature pack 1 and 2 phones. There’s also a version forUIQ 3 touch screen devices. Download Ozone from o3mobi.com. Like the default S60 browser, Ozone is based on the open source WebKit engine. It has some great features including support for advanced web technologies like Ajax and HTML5. It is an initial Alpha release with a few glitches but is quite usable and stable.
Ozone is a direct browser like the default S60 browser or Opera Mobile. Meaning that unlike proxy based browsers such as Opera Mini, Skyfire or UCWEB data does not pass through a central server that compresses and reformats pages. Direct browsers are slower but inherently more secure because they maintain end to end HTTPS encryption. Proxy based browsers must decrypt content in order to reformat and compress it. Some online banking sites block proxy based browsers out of security concerns.
Ozone is fast for a direct browser. O3mobi claims it’s three times faster than Opera Mobile. I wasn’t able to reproduce that but it is the fastest of the current S60 direct browsers in my tests. The table below compares page load times for Ozone, S60 WebKit, Opera Mobile 8.65 and Opera Mini 4.2. Testing was done on a Nokia N95-3 with a 1.5 mbit/sec WiFi connection.
|Ozone||19 sec||7 sec||38 sec||33 sec||97 sec|
|Webkit||26 sec||3 sec||70 sec||41 sec||140 sec|
|Opera Mobile||19 sec||1 sec||63 sec||73||156 sec|
|Opera Mini||6 sec||2 sec||6 sec||10 sec||24 sec|
Here’s a quick run down of Ozone’s features:
Multiple Windows A menu item lets you open new windows and switch between windows. It isn’t possible to open a link in a new window, however.
There are nine zoom levels ranging tiny to huge (top two images). Text is sharp and readable even at quite low zoom levels. Zooming is easy thanks to shortcut keys; 5 to zoom in, 6 to zoom out.
Bookmark management is very basic in this version, you can create bookmarks but there is no way to move, delete or rename them .
URL Completion seems quite smart, as soon as I typed “e” , Ozone offered me engadget.com, ebay.com, ebay.co.uk and easy-share.com as possible completions.
Navigation is pretty basic, there are no page up, page down, jump to column or top/bottom of page keys, only line by line scrolling. There is in-page search which helps a bit with finding things on the page. Scrolling seems quite slow and “laggy” on large, complex pages like the desktop versions of iGoogle and Engadget. The only shortcut keys are for zooming in and out. Everything else is buried in a menu. It takes five clicks to bookmark the current page and nine to navigate to the bookmarks list.
Ozone sends a user agent header (Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_5_2; en-us; ozone 0.9) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1 Safari/525.13) which properly identifies it as Ozone but claims that the operating system is Mac OS X! Most sites that do browser detetction seem to treat Ozone as a desktop browser. Google appears to see it as an iPhone. There is no identification of the actual phone make, model or OS in the headers which will be a problem for anyone doing mobile analytics or trying to deliver device specific content like wallpapers or themes.
Website compatibly is generally excellent. I have yet to find a site that Ozone refuses to load. Rendering is also good with varying font sizes , bold and italic properly handled. Most sites look fabulous in Ozone although sometimes text columns didn’t fit the viewport at the default zoom level. The only site I had real trouble with was Wikipedia, which was an unusable mess with article text displying one word to a line.
There is currently no Flash video support which I find surprising because S60 3rd edition has built in support for playing .flv videos built in and YouTube videos play in the Nokia Webkit browser.
Ajax Support is impressive. Ozone is the first mobile browser I’ve used that can load the desktop version of iGoogle with all my widgets working proberly. The iPhone version of Gmail also loads and is rendered accurately. The “floaty bar” is there and floats to stay in view when you scroll which is pretty neat although without a touch screen it’s not very usable. Whenever I tried to position the mouse cursor over one of the floaty bar buttons the screen would scroll and the bar would float away. I had to chase it all the way to the top of the screen to delete the current message. The “standard” desktop version of Gmail also loaded but scrolling was too slow to be usable. I ended up using Gmail in “Basic HTML” mode which works fine. The My Yahoo feed reader’s “Balloon Text” pops up to display an excerpt when you hover over a post title (image – bottom, left). Unfortunately those incredibly annoying Vibrant pop over keyword ads also appear. Ugh, I never had to deal with those before in a mobile browser (image – bottom. right). To make matters worse, Ozone locks up for about 5 seconds while a pop over is loading.
Ozone supports the HTML5 standard for persistent storage and offline web aplications. The iPhone version of Gmail uses Ozone’s local database to store actions like deleting, starring or archiving a message and synchronizes the action in the background.
Stability is pretty good for a first Alpha release. I had a few crashes but it was actually no worse in that respect than the default S60 browser.
I’m generally quite impressed with Ozone for its speed, compatibilty with so many sites and its Ajax and HTML 5 support. I’m hopping that future releases will address the relatively minor usability and stability issues I found.