September 29, 2011

Don't miss the SILK, amongst all the FIRE

Amazon's new 'iPad Killer' Kindle Fire is all over the Blogosphere. The $199 tablet, powered by Gingerbread (no, not Honeycomb) is expected to be available on Nov 15.

While it is grabbing all the limelight from the launch since Wednesday, there was another interesting product that was introduced.

SILK, is 'the potentially radical' browser that will be exclusively available on Fire.  It supports HTML5, JavaScript, CSS, Flash and associated next-generation Web standards.

Amazon built the software from scratch, using the WebKit open-source browser engine, but what makes it different from the other browsers is that it can be configured to let Amazon's cloud service do much of the work assembling complex Web pages. Which results in faster load times for Web pages, compared to other mobile devices.

It is based on the "spit browsing" approach hence it processes requests partially on Kindle and partially on EC2.  All the user's requests are directed to the EC2 service, which fetches the pages from the source and optimizes the content for the platform. Complex parts of JavaScript may be pre-processed and images may be downsized to a more manageable size.

As per Bezos, this provides "unlimited computational power and unlimited bandwidth, for all practical purposes".
But here is the part that I liked the most..

"Silk leverages the collaborative filtering techniques and machine learning algorithms Amazon has built over the last 15 years to power features such as “customers who bought this also bought…” As Silk serves up millions of page views every day, it learns more about the individual sites it renders and where users go next. By observing the aggregate traffic patterns on various web sites, it refines its heuristics, allowing for accurate predictions of the next page request. For example, Silk might observe that 85 percent of visitors to a leading news site next click on that site’s top headline. With that knowledge, EC2 and Silk together make intelligent decisions about pre-pushing content to the Kindle Fire. As a result, the next page a Kindle Fire customer is likely to visit will already be available locally in the device cache, enabling instant rendering to the screen."

However, it is interesting to note that, it is possible for users to turn off the EC2 service altogether and use the browser in a standard way.

Opera has been playing with Split Browsing approach for a couple of years now hence, though this might not be a 'new' but it'll surely add some twist to the market flooded with mee-too tablets.

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