Opera Mini 7 for Android is now available for download from the Google Play Store. The feature set is fairly similar to the Opera Mini 7 for J2ME, BlackBerry and Symbian S60 devices, which was previewed in last month’s MWC. Speed dial feature has been bolstered to support unlimited number of speed dials. Find-in-page as well as tab management features have been tweaked to make them more intuitive.
There are also a couple of significant enhancements that are exclusive to the Android version. Opera Mini now supports Android Beam, which uses NFC for data transfer. Rendering performance should also be significantly improved as the latest release supports OpenGLES.
Opera Mini is the slightly less capable sibling of Opera Mobile. It was originally meant for feature phones that lacked the processing power required for a full-fledged mobile browser. However, it has since managed to find an audience among the smartphone users too. Opera Mini doesn’t render webpages locally. Instead it routes all requests through its servers where the page is rendered and compressed. A highly compressed static representation of the page is then sent back to the mobile user. This technology is both Opera Mini’s biggest strength and weakness. The compression enables Opera Mini to achieve massive bandwidth savings (up to 90%), and also improve browsing speed on slower networks. However, it also means that Opera Mini is unable to render some of the more dynamic webpages properly.