Hell froze over this week when Opera mini was officially launched in Apple’s App store.What? Apple are conceding to competition on their own device? The launch of Opera Mini has been a long time coming, but what started off as a rumour finally became a reality but how and why have Apple allowed this to happen?Opera are, arguably, the kings of standard based browsers. They have a cult following in the community and will continue to flourish due to their rigourous approach to accessibility and web standards.
But, they suffer from the competition of rival browsers including Chrome (which has been marketed to death) and their arch nemesis: Internet Explorer.Until now, your only viable option to surf the web on your iPhone was to use Safari, which is perfectly fine as a mobile browser but then we have never really been able to compare it to much else. The release of Opera Mini has allowed us to compare the quality of Safari.
The most notable attribute of Opera is it’s speed!
But you would expect that due to it’s computer based sibling. It is pretty quick but you may find that it is quick to navigate around. Single taps instead of double taps for zooming for instance.The tabs themselves are much quicker than Safari, they are apparent at the foot of the screen (assuming you have full screen mode turned off), and they switch a lot quicker whilst also offering a sleak transition.
But it’s not all good news for Opera.Text renders as lines when zoomed out and is completely incomprehensible. Yes, it may only take a single tap to zoom in, but what am I zooming in to? The lines do not help the user to engage their interest in the page. In addition to this, the zoom out button is fixed to the bottom left hand corner of the screen. This can sometimes be quite far away from where you’ve just zoomed into, and if you zoomed in on something by mistake because it was originally illegible, it can get increasingly frustrating.Safari has remained stagnant on the iPhone because it didn’t need to evolve. Remember how amazed you were to see the actual Internet on a mobile device instead of drab ‘wap’ text based interface.
Those old browsers didn’t even support CSS!I believe that Apple have allowed Opera into the App store because they’ve got bigger tricks up their sleeve. iPhone OS 4 is just around the corner and they’ve just released the iPad so there are bound to be some functional changes on the horizon.They also save face by allowing competition into the App store but they’re probably aware that most iPhone users are not in that Opera fan base. A lot will be, and Opera will succeed because of them. A week after it’s release, Opera was number one in practically every App store top ten around the world. But this doesn’t mean that it’s everyones primary browser.
A lot of people will download it to use it, some out of curiosity and others because they’re addicted to Apps and they’ve seen Opera at number one.Everyone wins here. Opera users get their browser on the iPhone, Apple win fans over opening up the App store to competition at a time when they’re getting so much bad press from Adobe and most other users will carry on regardless. Most people are so used to having Safari in their home dock and it will be full of their bookmarks that they won’t feel the need to switch.Having said that, I still have the deepest respect for Opera and will continue to support them, just not on my iPhone.