UC Mobile Limited launched an English language version of UC Browser 7.4 today. It's available now at ucweb.com (mobile: wap.ucweb.com) for Symbian 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th editions, Java and Windows Mobile. The Symbian 5th edition version also works on Symbian^3 phones like the N8. You need to download it from the UC site as the Ovi Store still lists the older 7.2 version. Android and iPhone releases of 7.4 are expected soon.
The official press release has screenshots, performance tests and details of the many improvements in this release.
I gave UC 7.4 a try on my Nokia N8. and here are my impressions:
Touch Friendly User Interface: The version for Symbian touch phones has an attractive, finger friendly menu system that was introduced in UC 7.2. Unlike with Opera Mini and Mobile, checkboxes and radio buttons are large enough to respond easily to touch. One quirk of this browser that takes a bit of getting use to is that opening a link or text field requires a double, rather than a single tap. While non-standard, this does eliminate the problem of accidentally opening links when trying to scroll the page that occurs with other touchscreen browsers.
Improved rendering. I noted a number of rendering enhancements in the new version; CSS stylesheets are more consistently applied in fit to width "Adaptive Mode", most mages with transparent backgrounds are now displayed correctly and inline links no longer overlap nearby text.
Performance improvements: UC has added more servers around the world to better serve their international traffic. There are also performance optimizations within the browser. While I haven't performed any formal speed tests, the new browser feels snappier. UC claims that 7.4 is 21% faster than the previous 7.2 version and 24% faster than Opera Mini 5.
My Shortcuts: A new feature that's similar to Opera's Speed Dial and gives you quick access to your favorite bookmarks.
Free Copy: The Symbian versions now let you select and copy text directly from a web page. Text selection is implemented very well in Uc 7.4 with large grab handles that let you easily adjust the selection. Unlike with Opera Mini, plain text URLs are copied correctly and can be pasted in the the URL bar without the need to edit out spaces inserted by the browser.
Feedback Form: You can submit bug reports, comments and feature requests to the UC team from within the browser.
There's now a single browser version for all languages. When you first launch the browser you are prompted to select your country. UC uses your selection to customize the user interface language, preinstalled bookmarks and even the startup splash page in the Java version where UC's Squirrel mascot now appears in appropriate national garb.
The best thing about UC Browser 7.4 though is improved website compatibility. Unlike previous versions of UC, I had no trouble opening and using my favorite sites - with one exception. UC worked flawlessly with Facebook, Twitter and even the WordPress administration panel that most mobile browsers have trouble with. The only site that I had trouble with was Dabr, which is my preferred mobile Twitter client. UC Browser doesn't seem to work properly with Twitter's quirky OAuth implementation and I was unable to log in to Dabr.
Long the leading browser in China, UC Browser now serves 50 billion pages per month worldwide, which is a bit more than Opera Mini's 39 billion. The latest version is much improved and well worth installing on the the N8 and other supported devices.