UC Browser offers alternative to IE9 on Windows Phone
UC Browser is an alternative to Internet Explorer on Windows Phone, one of the first of its kind. It's been around for some time (it was on Windows Mobile) but only supported Chinese for the Windows Phone build which under went beta testing a few months ago. The browser was recently updated and now has language support for English.
UC Browser is a well designed web browser and pages loaded with a little zip. There's still some work to be done to complete the transition to English and a few features we've yet to discover. But all in all, if you're looking for a change of pace from IE9, UC Browser is worth a try.
The UC Browser layout has your traditional URL entry field up top with a keyword search field (Google Search) next to it. There is a small button control just below the keyword search that has, what looks like, a t-shirt emblem. This button cycles through various pre-loaded wallpapers. The app has four pages spread out in landscape fashion that include:
Shortcut Page: This is the UC Browser Home Page and offers a dozen customizable shortcut tiles that will take you directly to your favorite web pages. Just tap/hold one of the tiles to edit/add your favorite URL's. Tiles not in use will be populated with your most recently visited web pages.
Site Navigation: This page lists a handful of websites in the following three categories; Top, Popular and More. Just tap/hold on a link to pull up options to open the site in the background or new tab as well as add the link to your bookmarks.
History: Your browsing history is tabbed and broken down for sites visited today, yesterday and three days ago. Tap/hold a link in the history and you'll have options to add the link to your Shortcuts, delete, or open the link.
Bookmarks: As you would guess, here is where your bookmarked pages will reside. Tap/Hold a bookmark pulls up your options menu that includes editing, deleting and adding the link to your Shortcuts Page.
Settings for UC Browser include options to sync bookmarks with UC's server, pre-load pages, turn on Incognito Browsing, and set your rotation settings, language choice (English or Chinese) and how you want to handle form records (auto-fill). There are also options to use a custom skin and delete records. The Incognito Browsing setting does not record web sites visited in your browsing history and cookies are deleted once you leave that particular page.
A few additional features that make UC Browser stand out is the support for tabbed pages, horizontal display support, and online video display without the need for plug-in clients. I should note that in tinkering with UC Browser the online video viewing was hit and miss. There were several pages with embedded videos that were viewable with no issues while other sites the video produced a "not compatible with your device" error.
I did find UC Browser to be zippier than Internet Explorer and while a subjective issue, the layout was more user friendly. The Shortcut Tiles are a nice touch and there's even a Home Button that will send you back to the Shortcut Page eliminating the need to hit the Back Button.
While I liked UC Browser there are still plenty that is still a bit of mystery. The app is billed as having some sort of SkyDrive integration. From the Marketplace description,
Upload files to SkyDrive: Break through limitation of migration between devices by integrating SkyDrive into browser innovative. Uploading files in minutes and excellent mobility of info database ensure ease of resource management!
We haven't seen any signs of SkyDrive controls/interaction yet.
There is a page that lists downloads (from the three-dot menu), but we don't know what downloads will appear. You also have the capability to sync bookmarks with UC's server but the set-up pages are in Chinese. This may be an indication that bookmark sync service isn't available outside of China.
While there is some room for improvement, UC Browser isn't too shabby of an alternative to IE9. UC Browser is a nice looking, easy to navigate, zippy web browser that is worth a look. UC Browser is a free app that you can grab here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Thanks, Stephen, for the tip!