Tag Archives: bada
UC Mobile has released an update to the UC Browser 8.2 Beta for Java phones. The only reported changes in this version are:
- A fix for the bug that prevented users from entering URLs on Samsung bada phones.
- On touch screen phones users can now swipe left and right to go backward and forward though session history.
- A fix for a bug on some phones where the soft keys didn't work when copying text from a Web page (free copy).
I tested the update on a Samsung GT-S8500L Wave bada phone. That phone was effected by the URL entry bug and I'm happy to report that the update completely fixes the problem.
The new feature that lets you move backward and forward through recent pages by swiping left and right is pure genius. It's especially welcome on the Wave where the touch back and forward buttons are tiny and hard to use.
Swiping to go back and forward only works with mobile pages that fit screen width when the Browser's "Zoom" (desktop layout) mode is enabled. With Zoom mode disabled swiping works with all pages. You probably want to turn Zoom mode off anyway as it's a rendering disaster most of the time.
Download the updated version from ucweb.com
If you have a touchscreen phone and an unwanted virtual keypad appears at the bottom of the screen, I've created a signed patched version that removes the keypad.
Opera Mobile and Firefox Mobile and the browsers on other smartphone platforms are often as poweful or more powerfull than iOS Safari or the Android browser. But they don't have the market share and designers (and the bean counters who control development budgets) could care less about low market share platforms and browsers. I can't really blame them, it's not cost effective to develop for or test against a platform that accounts for a single digit percentage of traffic.
Fortunately, some web publishers do expose URLs that will let you load the bleeding edge webapp goodness on any device. I've started to try to find as many of these URLs as I can and test them against all the reasonably capable browsers I have access to, which is currently the Symbian Belle browser, Opera Mobile 12.0 on Symbian and Android, Firefox Mobile Beta 11.0 on Android, the WebOS 22.214.171.124 browser, bada 1.0 browser and Opera Mini Next on Android and Symbian.
I'll be adding the URLs of Android and iOS webapps that work on one or more of my alternate browsers to the WapReview Mobile Directory. To distinguish them from legacy webapps from the same Publisher I'm adding "Touch" to the site's name. Today, I added the following Touch apps to the Directory. I'll add more in upcoming editions of the regular "Found on the Mobile Web" feature here on WapReview.
Facebook Touch touch.facebook.com Advanced mobile version of Facebook that's served to the Android, bada and iPhone browsers by default. Also works in Firefox Mobile and Opera Mobile, the Symbian browser and, except for the check-in feature, the WebOS 126.96.36.199. (Pixi, Pixi Plus) browser (the WebOS browser has no geoLocation support).
Google+ Touch m.google.com/app/plus/?force=1 The rich mobile web version of Google Plus with check in and the ability to create circles, which are missing in the basic mobile version. Served by default to Android, the iPhone and Firefox Mobile. Also works well in the WebOS, Symbian, bada and Opera Mobile browsers. There's a link to this version at the bottom of the basic mobile version (m.google.com/app/plus/x/) that's served to unsupported browsers.
Google News Touch www.google.com/news/i The iPhone and Android version of Google News. It uses geolocation to serve local news based on where you are and has a a more attractive layout, more content per page and more and larger images than the basic mobile versiion at news.google.com/m/news.
IPhone, Android, WebOS and bada browser visitors to news.google.com are redirected to this touch version. But it also works well in Opera Mobile, Opera Mini, Firefox Mobile and Symbian browsers it you enter the URL
Google Calendar Touch www.google.com/calendar/gp Google Calendar optimized for advanced mobile browsers. Looks and works more like a native calendar app with separate day and month views. Served by default to the iPhone, bada, WebOS and Android browsers. Works well in the Symbian browser. Minor rendering issues but usable in Firefox Mobile, Opera Mobile and Opera Mini.
Google Reader Touch www.google.com/reader/i/ Enhanced mobile version of Google Reader served by default to Android, bada, iPhone, WebOS and Firefox Mobile browsers. Also works well in Opera Mobile and the Symbian browser. It's usable in Opera Mini but slow because expanding items requires a server round trip
Not everyone of these iPhone/Android apps works perfectly in every unsupported browser. There can be, mostly minor, performance or rendering issues, but I generally prefer these Touch webapps to their legacy equivalents in all the browsers mentioned in this post.
Thanks to a reader comment, I discovered that bada supports Java ME, which means you can use alternate browsers including Opera Mini, Bolt and the UC Browser. Java support is not mentioned in any of the bada promotional materials I've seen and most reviewers seem to have missed it's existence as well. It's not exactly a secret though. There's a brief mention of Java in the "Games and Applications" section on page 71 of the Wave User Guide (PDF). But who reads the manual? Not me, obviously.
Unlike the buggy and unstable Java VM's on many of Samsung's feature phones, the Wave's appears to be very well done. Performance and stability seem excellent, apps can run in the background, virtual keyboard support works and unsigned apps install and run with a minimum of unnecessary security warnings and prompts.
You can install Java apps by clicking a JAD or JAR link in the Dolfin browser. When the app finishes downloading a notification bar pops up at the top of the screen. Tapping the bar gives you the option to "Play" the game or app.
Installed Java apps don't appear in the phone's main menu. To find them on the phone tap the "Games and more" menu icon to open a scrolling list of all the ones you have installed. Tapping an app opens it or brings it to the foreground if it's already running. A menu button (labeled with three dots) at the bottom of the screen gives you options to rename apps, specify which network APN to use, enable or disable an onscreen virtual keyboard and toggle a "fit to screen" scaleing mode that expands games designed for fixed resolutions so that they fill the Wave's 480x800 screen.
Opera Mini 5.1 (image, top left) looks stunning on the Wave's high resolution screen and everything seems to work perfectly. The bada "Fit to screen" option defaults to on which makes text and images slightly blurry. Turning it off got rid of the blurriness but made Opera's menu text tiny. I prefer it with Fit to Width off but it both ways to see which works best for you.
I used the double signed version of Opera Mini 5.1 and saving pages and file uploading and downloading worked without permission nags. You will want to turn off the bada virtual keyboard to get rid of the unneeded and space wasting cursor key overlay at the bottom of the screen. Don't worry, even with it off a virtual QWERTY keyboard will still pop up when you click on a text box. You can choose between the Samsung virtual keyboard or Opera's with the "Opera Keyboard" setting in the browser's "Advanced menu.
Bolt 2.11 (image, top right) also worked pretty well and looked good. I found I got best results by turning off bada's fit to screen option and choosing Bolt's largest font. I had to disable Bolt's inline-editing in order to get the virtual QWERTY to appear when I tapped a text box. Bolt makes no concessions to touch screen devices and it shows. Clicking menu items is somewhat tricky and scrolling seems "sticky"
The UC Browser 7.2 (image, above left) is also not particularly touch friendly either, with small hard to hit menu items. Unlike with Bolt, scrolling was fluid and fast. Font sizes are an issue with UC regardless of whether fit to screen is on or off. The problem is that the menu fonts are much smaller than the default font used for web pages. The best combination for me seemed to be turning bada's fit to screen option on and using UC's medium font. That gave me reasonably sized menu text, but text on web pages was larger than I would like.
I tried several games and all installed and ran, but not all were playable. Some like Tibia ME couldn't connect, others including Rhynn wouldn't accept the QWERTY keyboard's input so I couldn't log in. The fit to screen option worked with some games but not others. The virtual keyboard's soft keys and arrow keys(image, above right) generally worked well with games that don't support touch.
I think I'll be using the Wave a lot more now that I've discovered that it supports Java apps. Pickings are still a little thin in the Samsung App store. The over 50,000 Java apps in circulation should help to fill the gap.