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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Opera jumps aboard the iPhone bandwagon, at last…

Opera, one of the worlds most popular browser makers has today revealed that they intend to launch Opera for the iPhone.

The parent company to the popular software says that the new browser will load webpages up to six times faster than Safari since it compresses content when downloading a webpage for viewing which in turn can also reduce browsing costs significantly per MB, which means the GB which O2 grace us with goes a bit further.

The popular browser, turned app will feature tabbed browsing, google search in-built,  speed dial showing thumbnails of your favourite websites and a password manager.

All of which are much, much handier than features in Safari for the iPhone, which is still unchallenged in terms of web browsing on what is the worlds most popular, and infamous phone.

opera browser for the iPhone

Functional, smooth, solid - a lot to look forward to from Opera

Opera are also sounding quite optimistic about their chances of having the app approved by Apple. The hardware, and software giant has been typically hesitant of allowing apps which mimic too closely the functions of its own native apps to appear on its store. Opera may be betting on the large amounts of negative criticism which Apple have been attracting thanks to their strictness, when their own browser goes through the approval process.

With the upcoming release of the iPad, which may still revolutionise portable computing, Opera may also be looking to jump on board from the beginning, offering users an alternative to Safari when surfing any where with a nice big 10” screen and making the iPad feel much more like a full computer, with choices among browsers etc. Rather than a big iPhone.

Having proven themselves time and time again on Macs and PC’s for being able to produce solid and fast browsers, the software company should do well against Safari, which has seen recent fall backs on the browser market share stats with the arrival of Chrome on the scene.

Opera is already on pretty much every other platform, and is the worlds most popular mobile browser, so landing on the app store is really allowing it to cover all the basis, and should give Safari a good run for its money.

There’s no doubt that the Opera iPhone browser will be a brilliant app, well worth the download, that’s if it gets approved.

So watch this space, or rather the space under ‘O’ in the app store…

iPhone OS3.2 big features for a big updates.

A glimpse into the future iPhone has been, today, shown to the world; Engadget have reported that several new features in iPhone OS 3.2 have been leaked.

Reportedly there will be several brand new features popping into the popular phone’s operating system. Most interestingly perhaps is the potential support for video conferencing, which could indicate the future presence of a forward facing camera just above the screen.

The video calling feature is also supposed to allow for only part of the screen to be taken up, allowing for… Wait for it, multitasking. Features such as the video phone support for the iPhone have also given rise to the potential that Apple will make their phone a multi-tasker, which would rub over a lot of headaches coming from nay-sayers.

Video calling, any point, really?

It has always been a point of criticism that Apple has only allowed multi-tasking on the iPhone to its own apps, in a very limited way when compared to what other smart-phones in the market can do in terms of multiple apps running at once. Another very tasty feature which would be fantastic to see would be upload/download support for files from Safari.

If true, then it would mean that files could be downloaded straight from your browser and stored in your phone much like on a computer, and use the files in other apps. These updates could be precursors to OS4.0 which could be released after the iPad is sent out to shops, and giving support for multitasking to the iPad more so than the iPhone. Indeed many of these features would be useful on the larger device which is aimed more at the average consumer who needs neither a laptop nor a smartphone.

Other features which have been rumoured include; address book integration to spell checker, expanded dictionaries for the phone, USB host support, expanded Bluetooth support, handwriting keyboard and potentially location sensitive ads in Maps.

In general these updates do seem long awaited, multitasking in particular, but when iPhones are still selling like hotcakes and have outdone even their biggest rivals, do Apple really need to add a camera in which no one would really use anyway? It seems like most of these updates are for the sake of the iPad, which could certainly do with them more given that the iPhone is an established name and is going no where, and the iPad is still to impress many people.

The iPad is here!!! Now what’s it all about?

Here at last! Steve Jobs finally announced the new iPad (iSlate turns out to be just fan speculation) to a crowd of gathered journalists. Now that we’ve all gotten our jaws off the floor at what a gorgeous and sleek device the iPad truly is – let’s see what’s under the hood.

IPad seen here with dock and keyboad... isn't it lovely?

Only half an inch thick and weighing .9kg you won’t even feel the pad in your bag. These measurements were generally to be expected given Apple’s love of the slim and the need for portability which would outdo its rivals. The battery will last you about ten hours, which is a lot longer then most laptops and netbooks available on the market today.

The screen is somewhat smaller than most were expecting at only 9.7”, this however is still perfect for magazines, books, movies, music, writing and pretty much anything else you can think of! It uses LED display with IPS meaning that from whichever angle you see it at you get no fading and still get a good strong image.

The first of the TWO models, which has WiFi only is shipping in March, with the follow up second model will have both WiFi and 3G and will be shipping in America, anyway, in April.  The basic version will be just $499 which is about €350 and well below what anyone had previously expected. Rumours are rising about who on this side of the pond will be getting the 3G rights, AT&T, traditional American carrier of the iPhone is said to already have secured its deal, so if history is to be repeated then it looks like O2 might have it in the bag. The 3G version will probably be more expensive, but even then will still be affordable and give e-readers and other tablets, slates or pads a run for their money.

Speaking of e-readers, the iPad will come with a brand new native app; iBook. This app will, essentially be an e-reader  and bookshop all in one, and allow you to download books straight to the device without ever leaving iBook and read them on the large, crisp display. Exactly how this reading experience will compare to e-ink, which is designed  to mimic paper is hard to tell. Apple are probably aiming more for the magazine and newspaper market, and trying to pick up ebooks while they go.

iBook store will give Amazon a good fight, but will it win over book fans? Hard to tell, doesn't bowl me over too much...

Apple are also reporting that the full 140,000 of their apps, currently available in their app store will be ready to go for the iPad for when it comes out in the shops, by which time there will be a whole mountain of apps ready for the platform as developers speed up creating new apps specifically tailored for the larger screen and faster processor. This also goes a long way to securing and keeping Apple’s 99.4% market share of all applications, leaving Nokia and Google in the shade with little hope in the short term of gaining any major ground.

Also bundled In are all the apps we know and love from the iPhone, such as Contacts, Safari, Mail, Maps, etc.The layout of the interface is extremely similar to the iPhone/iPod screen, just with more space between apps also allowing for a background image, and allowing for the multiple home screens which you can swipe between for your various applications.

Some standard ideas still follow through from the iPhone with a multitouch screen, allowing for a more flowing navigation of your files and apps. The 30-pin connector located just under the standard ‘Home’ button are also some friendly and familiar faces, and fit in nice and seamlessly with the device and make it look more like an iPhone then just the screen of a MacBook taken off the keyboard.

Some new innovations come with the A4 chip which has been designed by the Apple team specifically for the iPad, which is supposed to make the device far more efficient than others.

The iPad also comes with a choice of storage sizes all flash based, 16, 32, and 64GB, which is similar to the iPhone storage and should be enough to hold anything you really want to carry around, given that the iPad isn’t really a netbook, but more than a phone the storage sizes aren’t hugely surprising.

Still no flash?

Some things missing, however are making small holes in the otherwise glowing facade of Apple’s latest product. Apple had an excuse for not having flash on the original iPhone, and maybe even on the 3G, but for the iPad? Certainly not – for such a media oriented device it is quite unusual for it not to carry support for one of the most used animation tools and what can often be the basics of many websites out there today. Many people expected support for the popular plug-in, and there is a minor sense of disappointment at it not being at the party. Two other things which were speculated were a webcam and USB port, although these were probably filed under the category of “they’d be handy” and mostly on a small number of fans wish lists, few really ever expected that either would make a real appearance.

Prices start low and go up depending on what you’re looking for, as you can see below;

16 GB  32 GB  64 GB

Wi-Fi                   $499   $599   $699

Wi-Fi + 3G           $629  $729   $829

Rumours have also been circulating over the magazines and newspapers which will be signing up for the new iPad. So far it has been suggested that the New York Times, Vogue and Wired are just some of the publications which are waiting to release their own apps or iPad formatted editions.

Over all it looks to be a brilliant device, and although there wasn’t a huge amount of surprises hidden away other then the name, the iPad has still managed to impress. Whether it will kill off the e-reader, it can’t be said until people actually begin reading on the iPad. It will also be interesting to see how Apple regulate their books.  Which we’ll also have to wait and see for, given the current debates on how ebook downloads should be regulated.

A desirable device, but the question at the end of the day is, do you really need one and if so, why would you need it?

But you WANT it!