Opera Courts Android With Mini Browser - InformationWeek

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4/10/2008
02:02 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Opera Courts Android With Mini Browser

Nobody has really seen the browser that will ship with phones running Google's Android platform, but Opera Software already wants to replace it with its own. It has made Opera Mini for Android available to developers. Part of me is surprised that Apple hasn't already

Nobody has really seen the browser that will ship with phones running Google's Android platform, but Opera Software already wants to replace it with its own. It has made Opera Mini for Android available to developers. Part of me is surprised that Apple hasn't already attempted to embed Safari into Android somewhere...Google announced last fall that it was going to craft its own mobile browser for the Android phone. On the Android reference designs I've seen, there is a browser in the menu system. Unfortunately, the prototype I saw wasn't connected to a network, so I couldn't take the browser for a spin. I'm sure Android developers have. It seems Opera has, too, and must have found it lacking.

Today, Opera announced that its Mini browser is ready to rock the 'Droid. Opera is calling it a "technical preview," and it is available at labs.opera.com. Mini, of course, enables Web browsing from entry-level to high-end handsets by compressing data through a proxy before sending content to the phone applet for rendering. Opera Mini offers more desktop-like Web browsing from a mobile phone, including Small Screen Rendering, Zoom, synced bookmarks, and integrated Google search.

"We're glad to deliver our mass-market mobile browser to the Android development groups," says Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera Software in a prepared statement. "Opera Mini will be able to empower users of Android-based handsets with access to all of their favorite Web sites with popular features for smooth effects and scalable, tailored viewing."

I am sure whatever browser Google and the Android developers are working on will be decent. But will it outmatch Opera? That remains to be seen.

The other question is, what other mobile browsers will be made compatible with Android? My guess is Mozilla will eventually get around to making a version of its forthcoming mobile browser available for Android at some point. It is, however, targeting Windows Mobile users first. There's also SkyFire to think of, which is currently in beta mode for Windows Mobile users. And what about dear old Apple? It seems to be getting pushy with its Safari browser of late. Will it attempt to port the iPhone experience over to Android? Seems unlikely at the moment.

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