Opera Software has just submitted Opera Mini for iPhone to the App store for approval. The browser was first demoed at MWC ’10, where it received rave reviews from almost everyone who got an opportunity to play with it.
According to internal testing, Opera Mini loads pages up to 6 times faster than iPhone’s default browser i.e. Safari. The huge difference is because all pages are first routed through Opera’s proxy servers where there are compressed by up to 90%. The server-side compression also reduces your bandwidth bills and is ideal if you are on roaming.
Opera Mini is the world’s most popular mobile browser, which offers an exciting mix of features packaged in a neat and intuitive UI (user interface). Opera Mini for iPhone is similar to Opera Mini for Java (and other platforms). All the standard features including tabbed browsing, search engine integration, Opera Link (data synchronization), visual speed dial, password manager and find-in-page are present in Opera Mini for iPhone. In fact, there are even a few extra goodies such as session restore. Like its desktop counterpart, Opera Mini for iPhone can resume browsing from where you left off last time. This is a crucial feature for a platform, which does not allow multitasking. However, Opera Mini has its own disadvantages – the major ones being its inability to render rich web content (for example AJAX heavy websites) and the lack of pinch-and-zoom.
Overall, Opera Mini is an impressive browser, which would appeal to a large section of iPhone users. However, the big question is whether Apple will approve it. Apple is not known for being kind to competition and that is exactly what Opera Mini is. Apple is yet to allow any browser, which does not use Safari’s (Webkit) rendering engine. However, if Apple decides to follow its SDK License to the word, then Opera Software might just get away. Opera Mini does not interpret or execute any code. Instead, all the rendering is done on Opera’s servers. Opera Mini simply displays pre-rendered pages received from its servers.
Only time will tell if Apple will do the right thing for once. Opera is clearly trying to pressurize the App Store approval team through a carefully orchestrated campaign. Let’s hope that their tactics will pay off.