Skyfire is alpha testing a version of its mobile web browser for Google Android. A fairly small number of testers have been accepted into the alpha test group, but apparently someone leaked a copy of the installer, which is now available for download from the xda-developers forum.

One of the things that makes Skyfire different from most other browsers (aside from Opera Mini) is that Skyfire uses server-side compression to speed up page loads and stream content to your device that wouldn’t otherwise be available. For instance, you can use the Skyfire browser on other platforms to watch Flash video, even on phones that don’t have Flash installed.

Unfortunately, the leaked copy of Skyfire for Android is an unauthorized version of the browser. So while you can get a sense of what the menus and navigation controls look like, you won’t get the benefits of server-side compression. In other words, there’s no support for Flash video playback.

Still, you can get an idea of what the browser will look like. For instance, it supports tabbed browsing, with a tab switching menu that looks kind of like the Safari tab switcher for the iPhone. There’s also a “share” button that lets you share web pages via Gmail, text message, or other apps such as Facebook or WordPress, depending on what’s installed on your phone. And there’s a video button that should show you a list of viewable videos on any web page.

Oddly, there’s no pinch to zoom feature in the browser, at least not yet.

If you want a fully functional copy of Skyfire for Android, you’ll have to wait until the folks at Skyfire release one. But Skfyire CEO Jeff Glueck posted a message in the xda-developers forum suggesting that “you won’t have to wait long” since a public version will be available soon.

Skyfire also plans to offer an iPhone version of the browser. Skyfire is currently available for Windows Mobile and Symbian devices.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...

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