"Why," you're probably asking, "would I want another browser on my iPhone, when mobile Safari's the best one around?" Because Opera Mini on the iPhone makes pokey EDGE feel like 3G. Check it out.
This whole demo's taking place on EDGE, and as you can see, it's pretty damn quick—especially considering it took place in Gawker's office, where reception tends to suck, in the middle of Manhattan around 4pm on a weekday. As you're probably familiar with by now, Opera Mini's the little browser that does all of the heavy crunching on the server side, and spits it out to your phone, making things much faster than if your phone and its slower connection did all the work.
Overall, it's the fastest I've ever felt Opera Mini perform across any platform. Everything happens instantly, and it feels really smooth, and polished. As with other versions of Opera Mini, there's no pinch-to-zoom, simply one-touch, fit to column, but the super speed makes that just fine, at least when it properly displays columns—it had a problem rendering Giz, for instance, but that was the only page where I had an "AHA it's broke" moment. (Expect other pages that give Opera Mini problems to still have issues here, since it's the same engine, after all.) It caches back pages, moving between them quickly, because Opera Mini is used to working with "tens of megabytes, and here we lots of megabytes of RAM to play with," says Opera founder and former CEO Jon von Tetzchner. What's really nice? Finding text in page, which Safari doesn't have.
It's functionally the same Opera Mini on other platforms, with mostly the same interface, just written in Objective C and optimized for iPhone. So you have syncing with other versions of Opera, and everything else you'd expect. The only difference, feature-wise, is that it saves your browsing state, down to your tab and position, which other versions of Opera Mini don't do.
They're submitting it like a normal app to the App Store sometime today. Tetzchner doesn't see why it would be rejected, arguing that it doesn't execute any code (which the SDK prohibits), it's just reading what the server sends to it. We'll see how Apple feels about that, but I hope they let it go, since it'd make life on EDGE for original iPhone users—and anybody in NY or SF, where AT&T reception is terrible, and EDGE is way more reliable—way more livable.
Opera Mini submitted to Apple's App Store
Oslo, Norway – March 23, 2010
Opera Mini for iPhone was officially submitted to the Apple iPhone App store today. A select few first saw it at Mobile World Congress 2010 in February. Now, the "fast like a rocket" browser is taking its first big step towards giving users a new way to browse on the iPhone.
Early reviews of Opera Mini for iPhone praised the sheer browsing speed, powering through Web pages up to six times faster than Safari. Due to server-side rendering, Opera Mini compresses data by up to 90 percent before sending it to the phone, resulting in rapid page loading and more Web per MB for the end user. Those familiar with iPhone roaming charges will relish Opera Mini's ability to deliver more for less, giving users the Web they want quickly, without, the high costs.
"The Opera Mini for iPhone sneak peek during MWC told us that we have something special," said Jon von Tetzchner, Co-founder, Opera Software. "Opera has put every effort into creating a customized, stylized, feature-rich and highly responsive browser that masterfully combines iPhone capabilities with Opera's renowned Web experience, and the result is a high performing browser for the iPhone."
Opera Mini is the world's most popular mobile Web browser, famed for bringing the Web to nearly any mobile phone. Its speed, usability and navigation-friendly design have catapulted this browser onto more than 50 million mobile phones worldwide. Creating a version for iPhone is part of Opera's mission to bring the Web to all platforms and all devices.