Bitstream has introduced a big update to Bolt, a 15-month-old mobile browser already installed almost 7 million times on devices ranging from low-end feature phones to high-end smartphones.
Competing against the likes of Opera and Skyfire, the free third-party browser has now been used in its full and “Lite” editions on thousands of different handset models worldwide, a Bitstream spokesperson said.
Since its initial introduction by long-time digital fonts specialist Bitstream in February of last year, Bolt has gone through three beta releases and five subsequent releases, adding new features each time.
This is a server-assisted browser based on the same WebKit engine used by the iPhone and Google Android browsers. Because it often faithfully renders Web pages on mobile phones as the pages appear on a desktop or laptop, it is popular with mobile users unsatisfied with their proprietary browser, including users of BlackBerry smartphones.
New in Bold 2.1
The new Bolt 2.1 is a major release which adds support for HTML5 Video — a new standard for streaming video to an Internet browser without the need for an external plug-in — in addition to other new capabilities.
A new study released this month by MeFeedia, a video aggregator and search firm, found that 26 percent of online video available today is already encoded for HTML5 Video.
Also new in Bolt 2.1 is expanded Flash video, according to the spokesperson. More specifically, Bolt now supports Flash video on mtv.com, nick.com, and several international video sites, in addition to about a dozen previously supported Flash sites, including youtube.com, cnn.com, and espn.com, for instance.
The latest version of Bolt also incorporates several new features first introduced in Bolt 2.0, a version released in March of this year, including a WebKit upgrade to 4.03, faster widgets, tabbed browsing, and greater Facebook integration.
Added as a result of many requests by users, tabbed browsing lets people simultaneously browse multiple Web sites and switch between them.
Social Networking on the Go
With the new Facebook integration in versions 2.1 and 2.0, Bolt is continuing along a social networking path which has also included Twitter integration, added in version 1.7.
In Bolt 2.0 and 2.1, mobile users can use Facebook’s instant messaging (IM) service. They can also copy and paste text or links and post them to Facebook accounts from directly inside the BOLT browser, without needing to leave other Web pages.
According to spec sheets supplied by Bitstream, other major enhancements to Bolt over the past 15 months have included Wi-Fi support, added in Beta 2; photo and video uploads, added in Beta 3; and the ability to stream videos of any length, new in version 1.5.
Bitstream touts Bolt as capable of running on any phone platform. On the RIM BlackBerry side, though, Bolt and other third-party mobile browsers could encounter some new competition soon, with the impending availability of RIM’s BlackBerry OS 6.0, a release expected to include its own native WebKit browser.
BOLT 1.5 is now available on the Bitstream website.
Like all the previous version, it is a free download.