Universe Browser to provide alternate web browsing option, HP hires developer | webOS Nation

Universe Browser to provide alternate web browsing option, HP hires developer

by Adam Marks Wed, 23 Mar 2011 8:46 pm EDT

Just last week we saw the first alternative web browser show up in the official App Catalog with Complete Browser, while developer Donald Kirker of OpenMobl Systems has also been working on bringing his Universe Browser to webOS. In 2007 Universe started as the first web browser for the PalmOS platform that supported multi-tab browsing, and Donald wanted to bring some of that innovative browser love to webOS. Universe has been in closed alpha testing for the last couple weeks, getting updates almost every day as it works to distinguish itself with some rather unique features, such as Google Bookmark sync, a customizable navigation menu (like in Firefox or Safari), private browsing, integrated sharing capabilities with multiple webOS Twitter clients and Read It Later, as well as phone and Voogle integration. Universe also provides the ability to add a web shortcut to your launcher, just like the stock browser.

Universe Browser was shaping up to be a rather compelling alternative to the stock web browser, until HP and Palm threw up a little roadblock: they hired the developer. Technically, Kirker is a work-to-hire contractor, but he will be working on their WebKit Team, presumably to help enhance the web browser experience on webOS. It's great to see HP and Palm continue to reach out to the developer community and bring more of them in-house to improve webOS, but it's hardly surprising. As Palm's Josh Marinacci made abundantly clear at the NYC webOS Developer Meetup last month, there are a lot of job opportunities available for developers as HP continues to expand the Palm Global Business Unit and the webOS presence in the marketplace.

But what does this all mean for Universe Browser? Kirker is not entirely sure just yet, but he will continue to work on it and in the short term wants to get it out of alpha and into a full fledged beta. He has been told that he can continue to work on the app, because (as he puts it) "there seems to be enough disconnect from my work and Universe....Thankfully, I never wrote a port of WebKit to the webOS Linux platform, so Universe is *just* a Mojo shell ontop of a WebView wrapper which implements WebKit." (whatever that means!)

So, we wish Donald all the best with his new job, and hope that we will see a final Universe Browser in the near term!