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Zumobi To Launch Mobile Browser Interface In December

The Microsoft-backed product caches content for access on devices outside of wireless coverage, such as on an airplane or in the subway.

Zumobi, a Microsoft-backed startup focused on creating an open platform for mobile content, this week unveiled details of a beta mobile browser user interface.

The company, which just changed its name from ZenZui to Zumobi to better reflect its zooming user interface and mobile platform, said the beta will become available to the general public, including consumers, developers, content providers, advertisers, mobile operators, and distributors, on December 14. The beta will contain a version of the Zumobi software development kit.

Zumobi has developed a software interface that allows users to zoom in on and enlarge content on Web sites accessed though mobile browsers. The startup uses technology called Zooming User Interface, developed and patented by Microsoft, to make that possible.

Microsoft in March announced it would back Zumobi through its Microsoft IP Ventures arm, which was designed to help startups by providing them with funding and access to the software maker's technologies.

"The beta version of the product that we're now launching will offer consumers an exciting new set of mobile features and functionality that helps them stay on top of the things that are important to them personally and have fun doing it," said Eric Hertz, Zumobi's CEO, in a statement.

Zumobi isn't the only one to apply a zooming technique to mobile content for a better user experience. Apple has developed touch-screen technology that lets users zoom in and out of Web pages on the iPhone and the iPod Touch using their fingers. Nokia recently began shipping its 8-Gbyte N95 smartphone with a Web browser that lets a user zoom in or out of a page with a single key press. And Opera Software, a provider of Web technologies for mobile devices, last week released the latest version of its mobile browser that enables users to access the content they want by using a zoom feature.

But Zumobi claims its user interface is different from browsers because it employs advanced background data caching technology, which allows users to interact with content on mobile devices even when they're outside of wireless coverage, such as on an airplane or in the subway. Zumobi's goal is to improve how people access, retrieve, and share Web-based content on mobile devices through the use of background data caching.

The user interface also has a feature for designing and personalizing "tiles" of content that fit each individual's interests and lifestyle. The tiles consist of widgets, such as photos and blogs, instead of generic Web sites that appear on a mobile device screen.

The first beta version of Zumobi will be available for mobile devices that use the Windows Mobile 5, Windows Mobile 6, and BlackBerry operating systems. Compatibility with select cell phone models based on the Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition will come in the second quarter of next year.

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