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Visiarc streams mobile e-mail attachments

At DemoSpring, a new start-up is trying to solve the problem of opening and sharing large e-mail attachments.

PALM DESERT, Calif.--Among the many companies pitching at the DemoSpring conference, newcomer Visiarc is trying to solve an annoying problem. In this case, it's accessing and sharing large e-mail attachments on underpowered devices on congested networks.

While those two problems are slowly being solved by hardware-makers and the carriers, Visiarc wants to make the transition a little less painful with an app called Mobile Documents that simply streams in large attachments.

The tool, which is being launched first for Symbian 60 devices, changes the way your phone handles e-mail attachments. It lets users browse attachments page by page in a Cover Flow-like interface. Then, as users zoom in, it siphons in the data, making things like text and images smoother and sharper.

Another trick is that it can slurp up the text from a Word document or PDF and simply copy it into plain text in the same format as the rest of the e-mail message. This can be especially helpful in the case of PDFs, where the formatting would otherwise require users to keep scrolling side to side.

More important than its streaming is how the app handles resending an attachment to someone else. Where a good e-mail program can simply resend it from the server, many mobile phones first download the attachment in whole before resending it elsewhere, creating what Visiarc's CEO Peter Lindgren calls an unwanted round trip. Instead, it attaches a link to that file within people's e-mail that links them to a Visiarc copy that can be streamed.

The app is free and available as a beta for Symbian users to download. The company says versions for other platforms are on the way, though Lindgren did not get into specifics.