To continue the theme of mobile browsers I have decided to review a few of the iOS browsers out there. First up is the Opera Mini browser. My first impressions of this browser is extremely positive.Name Opera Mini Platform iPhone and iPad Price FREE!
On both the iPhone and iPad the browser toolbar is very elegant and easy to use. The buttons are a nice size, making the default Safari buttons feel very tiny in comparison. You have the standard Back and Next button, and the tab button that brings up the multiple open tabs. In addition you have two additional buttons. The refresh/cancel button is moved from the URL bar in most browsers to the tool bar, which makes it a lot easier to access. All other features are hidden under the Opera button.
The Opera Button
This menu allows you to access all of the main features of the browser. The bookmarks button, history, and start page are the main navigational features. It does kind of suck that the bookmarks are accessed through 2 buttons instead of just one, but the annoyance is minimal compared with the other features you gain under the Opera button. This interface is well designed with colorful icons making each feature easy to access.
One of the more impressive features in the Opera browser is the "Find in Page" feature. I do not know how common this feature is with other third-party browsers but after missing it in the Safari browser I am glad to find it here.
There are several useful features in the Settings page. You can control if images load or not and at what quality the images load at. There is also an option to enable Fullscreen mode, which hides the iPhone's status menu.
Then there is the "Mobile View" option. Leaving the option off shows pages in their mobile version (if there is a mobile version for that page). Turning it on loads the page in its normal web view but organizes all of the content into a single column. This can make some pages easier to view if they do not include a mobile version of their site.
One of the more useful features for people who use multiple platforms, including the desktop version, is Opera Link. This is a simple Opera account that synchronizes your bookmarks, and start pages. Your history and saved pages do not synchronize, however. The downside is that syncing is not instant and there is no way to force a sync outside of possibly disabling the option and then putting in your username and password to enable it again. It took a few hours before pages I added to my start menu in iPhone appeared on my iPad.
Password saving works as you would expect it. After entering a new password on a site Opera asks you if you want to save the password or not. Once saved the password is automatically entered into the correct fields when you visit the page again. In the settings menu under Privacy there is the option to disable saving passwords and to clear your password history, as well as browsing history.
Password saving worked great for my own personal wordpress website, but for some reason it never worked correctly for facebook. Every time I went to the page the password was filled in but when I entered the site it said password denied. Opera also noticed that my password was different and asked me if I wanted to save the new password or not.
Overall this is a very well thought out and implemented browser, although not perfect. A few of the sites I went to would not load properly in Opera so I had to load it in Safari. The main area that bugged me was the slideshow program used on my photography site. The slide show has an interface designed for mobile phones that lack flash support. It works great in Safari but failed to load correctly (or even usably) in Opera. Also the way it rendered the mobile facebook site did not look as well as it does in Safari. My final complaint was that on my wordpress dashboard the approve comments link never showed up in Opera, but works fine in Safari.
While Opera gets a 8/10 from me on design, features, and options, it only gets a 5/10 from me for usability because of the way it renders certain sites. I will likely keep using this browser but doubt that it will become my main. What are your experiences with Opera mini? Do you enjoy using it?
Jon is a writer for Eternal Truth Ministry and the resident Apple geek at the Geeky Farmer blog. Follow Jon on his Personal website, Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr.
Location:Colorado Springs,United States