Developing The NEW BlackBerry Browser


Over the past year, the team responsible for the new BlackBerry® Browser in BlackBerry 6 has been challenged with identifying what makes a great mobile web browsing experience, and then building it. In addition to the new experts that have come on board through the acquisition of Torch Mobile, many of Research In Motion’s (RIM) brightest engineers have collaborated to set a new course for the BlackBerry Browser. As the senior product manager responsible for BlackBerry Browser development, I can personally attest that we’re extremely excited to see how customers will respond to this new direction when they fire up BlackBerry 6 for the first time.

At the core of the new BlackBerry Browser is the WebKit rendering engine. WebKit is a high quality open source rendering engine, which is used in many desktop and mobile web browsers. Our Browser development team not only has the WebKit expertise of Torch Mobile (a leading contributor in the WebKit community), but also years of RIM mobile expertise to help ensure that the WebKit engine is optimized for mobile. What does this mean? Click the link below and I’ll show you!

Rendering Speed and Web Standards Support

Our development team made it a priority to ensure that new BlackBerry Browser supports web standards both now and going forward. Below are few examples of where we stand today with some important web standards — including HTML5, an emerging web standard and a key focus in future versions of the BlackBerry Browser.

  • Our Acid 3 test score: Perfect (100 of 100)
  • Our CSS3 Selectors test score: Perfect (574 of 574)
  • Our HTML5 test score: 208 of 300 – note that total compliance is not yet possible

The combination of the WebKit engine, web standards support, and our efforts to optimize for the mobile environment means that the new BlackBerry Browser is designed to provide a significant improvement to HTML rendering speed, and JavaScript® execution. Combined, these two performance improvements will drive the most obvious and customer-facing metric of all performance metrics – page load performance!

New UI and Features

Encapsulating the core rendering engine is an all-new user interface. The BlackBerry Browser UI in BlackBerry 6 has been designed to help users get to their desired content quickly, with minimal latency and required steps. New features we’ve added to the BlackBerry Browser include: a redesigned start page, unified URL and search entry box, tabbed browsing, pinch to zoom, and automatic content adjustment. Check out my post on Inside BlackBerry for a thorough overview of these new features.

While many things have changed in the BlackBerry Browser, one key element has stayed the same: The BlackBerry platform optimizes, but does not compromise the web content and application experience. We are the only platform that uses WebKit while also reducing the data consumed to render most sites significantly. BlackBerry 6 is designed to allow users to access desktop and premium mobile web content while using significantly less data, making it easier for them to stay within the confines of their service plans. This is also great news for developers, because the BlackBerry platform will not compromise your web content while reducing data consumption for consumers. It’s a win-win!

We have a lot of great BlackBerry Developer’s Blog posts in the coming weeks discussing WebKit and HTML5 in more detail. BlackBerry developers, please leave us a comment and let us know what you’re looking forward to the most in the new BlackBerry 6 platform!

About Michael W.

Mike recently joined RIM after spending the last eight years working at the carrier and mobile startup levels of the wireless industry. Already a longtime and enthusiastic member of the BlackBerry® Community, Mike is now a member of the very ambitious and never satisfied handheld software product team.

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