An Opera to remember…

What seemed like the impossible for many, has just become a reality; yesterday, Opera web browser for the iPhone was made available on the app store, clearing Apple’s often biased review and approval process.

It was hard to quell the excitement among the twitter fans as people saw a horizon, possibly not far off, of a less strict app store. Apple has been often criticised for its strict rules in approving apps for download by consumers, and has come under fire for creating an unfair monopoly by not allowing apps to mimic functions of some of it’s own programs.

The Norwegian based company behind the popular browser, submitted its app for approval amidst much fanfare a few weeks ago, and has been eagerly awaiting the results. The Opera browser is the smallest of what are known as the big 5, in terms of market share, but has the largest mobile base, and is considered one of the fastest browsers all round.

opera mini web browser on the iphone

Opera on the iPhone, oh the musical puns are never ending...

But since it’s targeting Apple’s Safari on the iPhone, how exactly does it measure up? Pretty well, but with room for improvement. At first glance the interface is nicely laid out, handy to reach buttons, with a fancy tab graphic that allows you to quickly see the content of open tabs and speed dial on your homepage, giving you quick access to your favourite sites.

There’s no denying that Opera feels a bit more intuitive and seems to be on the ball when considering layout and workflow. Unlike Safari you don’t have to go through needless graphics to open, or flick to a new tab – which takes slightly longer.

When talking about time, there’s no question, Opera is fast. Fairly smooth too. The browser uses a higher compression for webpages, which means it’s not downloading a full page, in as much detail as Safari.

Over all it’s a nice browser, I’m not too sure if it’ll quite replace Safari for me anyway, there are still a few bugs. For me, mobile browsing means that you can flick in and out of apps at a time, without problem and come back to what I was looking at minutes, or even hours later. Opera doesn’t seem too keen on that idea, and whenever I close the app and re-open it, it forgets what I was looking at, and instead shows me it’s homepage; the speed dial tab. Although it’s one issue for what is otherwise a brilliantly designed app, which we’re all glad to see on the store – it’s a big one, and does make the difference between my using Opera, or Safari.

In all it’s a great browser, fast, handy and nice to see on the app store after worries in some corners that it wouldn’t pass Apple’s approval process for mimicking too closely Safari. The browser should work on the iPad as well, if it doesn’t, Opera should work on optimising their new app for Apple’s new big platform.

In it’s first day of release, Opera had over a million downloads.

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