Last week UCWEB released a new Beta of their namesake product, a fast server based browser similar in concept to Opera Mini and Bolt but with some great additional features including tabbed browsing and the ability to copy text from web pages. The new release is version 6.6 and is only available in Chinese from official sources. Fortuanately for English speakers, the Java version of the Beta has been translated by the same two UCWEB Forum members, New88 and Mannuforall, who have done unofficial translations of previous releases.
New88 has posted three different versions to this thread on the forum:
1. UCWEB 6.6 Beta using the 6.6 Chinese server. This version has server side performance enhancements and 6.6 specific tweaks:
UCWEB-6.6_beta_chi_trans_by_New88.jar (262.47 KB)
2. UCWEB 6.6 Beta using the UCWEB 6.3 English server which is based in the U.S. and is not subject to “Great Wall” censorship. Some features may not work with this unsupported server/client combination:
UCWEB-6.6_beta_eng_trans_by_New88.jar (262.24 KB)
UCWEB 6.6 Beta using the UCWEB 5.1 Chinese server which is supposedly the fastest server of all:
UCWEB-6.6_beta_5.1server_trans_by_New88.jar (262.2 KB)
1. UCWEB 6.6 Beta using the 6.3 English server for Nokia and most other phones.
4. Ucweb 6.6 Beta with the MyZone tab and English server. MyZone lets you backup and restore bookmarks, read RSS feeds, and use a UCWEB hosted online disk storage service and an Email client. It has a Chinese-only user interface but there’s a cheatsheet for English speakers here: UCWEB Tutorial
Ucweb 6.6 Beta MyZone.jar (263.57 KB)
Ucweb 6.6 Beta MyZone.jad (397 Bytes)
I’m not 100% sure what is new in 6.6. There are Google translations of the original Chinese release notes in both the Forum threads listed above but they are pretty hard to follow. I think main new features are:
1) Auto refresh settings are now persistent accross sessions. With Auto Refresh enabled UCWEB will reload the page on a timer. It’s configured in Menu > Preferences > Auto Refresh. This option sounds useful for chat and live sports sites. Unfortunately it’s only enabled for WML pages (image below right).
2) Improvements to the prompts associated with the download block feature added in 6.5.
3) URL auto suggestion based on previously visited pages (image above left).
5) Rendering optimizations for WML pages.
6) The built in search form has a new option to reuse previously entered queries (image above right).
There are also a number of bug fixes including:
1) Fixed a problem with downloading .jar and .jad files with some Nokia S40 phones.
2) Fixed for a screen drawing bug.
3) Fixed an error that was occurring when setting the screen brightness on Nokia S40 phones to 5%.
4) Fixed a bug with the Add Bookmark shortcut key.
5) Fixed a bug that prevented file system browsing on Amoi phones.
6) Fixed a text entry bug on the Nokia E60.
7) Website specific fixes.
I’ve tried all three of New88 translations and Mannuforall’s English server one. They all work well. The quality of both translations is excellent but Mannuforall’s seems a little more complete. New88’s have some untranslated Chinese characters in the application name as it appears in the phone menu and in some of the prompts in the download manager.
Mannuforall has also modified the User Agent that UCWEB sends when you specify “Opera” in the settings to a one that more sites seem to recognize as a desktop browser. With this change Google defaults to the desktop version rather than the mobile one.
I found all the UCWEB 6.6 variants that I tried fast and stable. The new auto completion and search history features are handy time savers. However, I don’t think I will be using 6.6 very much. The big problem I have with it and all the othe unofficial translations of UCWEB Chinese releases is that they send an HTTP header (accept-language: zh–cn) indicating that the user’s preferred language is Chinese. This causes many sites to default to their Chinese versions. It can be very hard to figure out how to switch sites back to English, particularly if your phone doesn’t have a Chinese language pack and all the Chinese characters appear as identical box graphics. I know that Mannuforall has tried to find a fix for this problem but without success.
The new releases are fun to play with but too many sites come up in Chinese for me to recommend them for regular use unless you are bilingual and have a handset that can display Chinese characters. Hopefully UCWEB will release an official English version of 6.6. The last official English release was 6.3 and that’s what I continue to use as it sends a proper English accept-language header. Using the translated Beta’s is just too painful when Google, My.Opera, Facebook, etc appear in Chinese on an English handset. The good news is that if you want to give 6.6 a try it installs alongside previous versions including 6.5 and 6.3 rather than overwriting them.