We have recently seen quite a lot of excitement being created over the release of Google Chrome in beta for Android smartphones, with users experiencing genuine delight at the thought of being able to use one of the world’s most popular browsers on their mobile device.
Owners of the Apple iPhone haven’t been lucky enough to get a feature packed browser like Chrome, but for the most part, Mobile Safari does an excellent job of offering a very rich browsing experience which keeps users relatively happy.
There is however, as with most things, an alternative to Mobile Safari for iOS users which comes in the shape of the Opera Mini Web Browser and is available for download via the official App Store, free of charge. Opera is a universal application, meaning it is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad and has recently received quite a large update taking it to version 7.0. With claims that Opera is the world’s most popular mobile browser, the developers have managed to pack quite a feature set into such a lightweight and fast little application.
The main advantage that browsers have over other browsers, and the area that the developers are keen to highlight continually, is the faster browsing experience that Opera Mini provides by compressing data traffic by up to ninety percent of its original size. This is particularly beneficial in a mobile environment, and not only saves on cellular data usage, but also gives the promised faster experience to users in areas of poor connectivity as there is much less information to be passed. The new Opera Mini Browser also has a Data Usagesection which provides the statistics relating to the original size of the data, and actual received size on a per session and total basis.
Other key features of Opera Mini for iOS include a Speed Dial view which allows favorite websites to be set as tiles for quick launching, multiple visual tabs which allow seamless browsing of multiple websites and the obligatory synchronization of bookmarks and Speed Dial lists between desktop machines or another mobile device. Version 7.0 offers some upgrades and improvements to the already impressive feature set, as well as implementing some additional functionality:
- [NEW] support for more than 9 Speed Dials
- [NEW] support for platform dictionary
- [NEW] support for uploading files
- [NEW] zoom setting
- [IMPROVED] traffic compression on iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S
- [FIX] Fixed session restore not keeping tabs when launching
- [IMPROVED] Updated to dark keyboard to match Opera UI
- [FIX] Various bug fixes
After using version 7.0 of the browser for a few minutes, visiting a number of data intensive websites, it didn’t notably feel faster than using Mobile Safari. But the Data Usage settings seem to be telling me that it compressed incoming data traffic by a massive 90%, so although it may not feel faster, it certainly will have saved me a fair bit of data usage should I have been using cellular data.
Download Opera Mini for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch [iTunes Link]