Nintendo 3DS to use NetFront Browser, Supports Flash and HTML5?

We finally know what powers the 3DS’s Internet browser. Never heard of NetFront before? Keep reading – on paper, it sounds incredible.
Opera has been Nintendo’s browser of choice for years when it came to their game systems. The DS was their first system to gain the ability to access web pages, and similar (but faster) browsers then went on to be released for the Wii and the DSi.

Nintendo 3DS Browser
It should come as no surprise that Nintendo will be giving the 3DS a web browser, too, seeing as it has been on the list of confirmed features for a very long time. A video from the September 29th press conference (famously known as the release date of the release date) even showed us that it was possible to switch between playing games and using the browser at will, without quitting the game. Nintendo later told us that a worldwide system update scheduled for May would enable the web browser, as it wasn’t going to be ready in time for the system’s launch.
No further details were known beyond that. Would the 3DS browser support Flash? Was HTML5 in? How about CSS3? Will using the browser be a lag-crammed nightmare like its predecessors, or a silky-smooth experience matching the rest of the 3DS’s software? Today’s news, while it doesn’t answer all of those questions, brings us much closer to their resolution.

NetFront on Android
NetFront certainly makes a good first impression. (image: Android version)
Nikkei, a major Japanese newspaper, has reported that Nintendo have dropped the Opera browser in favour of ACCESS’s NetFront. Never heard of ACCESS or NetFront before? It’s the browser behind over a billion non-PC electronic devices, including the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. Browsing on the latter two is supposedly a slow experience at best, and an infuriating one at worst; but keep in mind that both of Sony’s systems run an old, outdated version of NetFront. Nintendo will likely use the shiny new version 4.1 of the browser, which, if the feature list is to be believed, will be a sweet deal indeed.
NetFront Browser Visual Bookmarks
Visual Bookmarks = awesome. (image: Windows Mobile version)
According to ACCESS’s website, NetFront 4.1 supports just about everything one could expect from a modern browser, including HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and IPv6; while promising solid performance all around and a tiny footprint to boot. Through the browser’s modular architecture, even Flash Player and the ability to read PDF files are possible. It’s up to Nintendo whether they wish to include the latter two features in the 3DS’s version of the browser; but I’d be willing to bet that Flash Player is in, seeing as the Wii had it and the 3DS has a comparable (if not superior) amount of power under its hood.
Engadget’s review of the Android version of NetFront sounds very positive, and it certainly looks like a very promising choice on Nintendo’s part. If you aren’t scared of technical jargon (or, like me, actually enjoy reading it), the browser’s full specifications sheet is below.

Specifications | NetFront Browser v4.1

New in NetFront Browser v4.1

  • High Speed JavaScript Engine

Supported Standards

Compliant with the OMA Browsing 2.3 specification

Markup

cHTML, HTML 5 (Partial), HTML 4.01, XHTML1.1, XHTML Mobile Profile 1.2, WML 1.3, SMIL 2.1, RSS feed (RSS 0.9/0.91/0.92/1.0/2.0, Atom 0.3/1.0)

Stylesheets

CSS1, CSS2.1, CSS3 (Partial), CSS MP1

Advanced Scripting

  • ECMAScript 262 3rd Edition
  • ECMAScript Mobile Profile
  • WMLScript
  • DOM Level 1, Level 2
  • Dynamic HTML
  • Ajax (XMLHttpRequest)

Protocols

  • HTTP 1.0/1.1
  • WAP
  • IPv4/IPv6 Dual TCP/IP

Security

  • SSL3/TLS1.0
  • Crypto modules

Memory Requirements

  • ROM: 2MB-4MB (Kernel +SLIM)
  • RAM: 2MB- (Depending on complexity of content viewed)

Main Features

  • Tabbed Multi-Window support
  • Column Rendering
  • Stick Navi
  • Swift Navi
  • PagePilot (Smooth pan and zoom navigation)
  • Visual Bookmarks
  • Virtual Pointer (Pointing device emulation)
  • Smart-Fit Rendering™
  • Rapid-Render™
  • Intelligent Frame Handling (Select and zoom individual frames)
  • Continuously adjustable Zooming/Animated Zoom
  • Offline Browsing and Page/Image Saving
  • Word Wrap, Line boundary character check
  • Streaming Download
  • DirectConnect (Secure monitoring and control of devices from the browser)
  • Intelligent Pop-Up Blocker
  • Integrated Internet Search Menu
  • Auto Form-Filling
  • Authentication Manager
  • International Domain Name

Supported Operating Systems

  • Linux® (ACCESS Linux Platform™, Android™, Qt/Embedded, Qtopia, GTK+, and others)
  • Symbian OS (Series 60 and UIQ)
  • Garnet™ OS
  • BREW, REX OS
  • Microsoft® Windows® CE family, Microsoft® Windows Mobile® (Pocket PC, Smartphone)
  • VxWorks
  • Nucleus
  • ITRON
  • Others (OS-9, OSE etc.)

Supported CPUs

  • ARM®
  • XScale
  • StrongARM®
  • PowerPC
  • MIPS
  • SH-Mobile and others

Plug-In and Extension Modules

NetFront™ SMIL Player & SVG Viewer
SMIL and SVG modules can be implemented as plug-ins or as stand-alone players for advanced 3G push services with rich multimedia content.
NetFront™ Document Viewer
NetFront™ Document Viewer enables full viewing of PDF files and Microsoft Office documents including Word, Excel®, and PowerPoint® on mobile handsets.
Flash®, Flash® Lite™
NetFront Browser provides a ready-to-use interface to integrate Adobe® Flash® Player supporting Flash content embedded within a Web page.
MascotCapsule (HI)
MascotCapsule is a 3D rendering engine that supports the display of visually rich 3D games or other 3D content on mobile devices.