Opera Announces New Webkit Based Mobile Browser – Opera Ice

Big news coming out of Oslo, Norway. Opera Software, the browser firm behind Opera Mini and Opera Mobile, is working on a new mobile browser called Opera Ice. Ice is being billed as the future of web browsing, and will be shaking things up in more ways than one.

Technically, the biggest difference between Ice and other Opera products will be its engine. Opera is one of the few browsers to have its own rendering engine, which is called Presto. The other layout engines are from Microsoft (Trident), Apple (Webkit), and Mozilla (Gecko). We might have several dozen browsers spread across numerous platforms, but all of them use one of these engines. Opera’s engine has been a source of pride for it, and has allowed it to shape web standards and lead the way with innovative features. However, it’s also the least popular of the existing engines. Since, no two engines are completely alike, this often means additional headaches for Opera in terms of website compatibility. Desktop websites have traditionally been optimized for Trident, due to Internet Explorer’s dominance. Mobile used to be a segment where Opera ruled the roost. It’s still a major player with more than 215 million mobile users. However, Webkit has emerged as the leading mobile browser engine. Google Chrome uses a modified version of Webkit, and the default Android browser as well as Chrome for Android uses Webkit. Apple’s Safari for iOS also obviously uses Webkit. Moreover, since Apple strictly restricts third-party layout engines on iOS, all iOS browsers are forced to employ Webkit. A a result of Webkit’s dominance in mobile browsers, mobile websites are invariably solely optimized for Webkit. Perhaps not wanting to play the catchup game all over again, Opera is ditching its venerable browser engine for Ice.

Opera-Ice

The change in browser engine will also help Opera to get into Apple’s iTunes App Store. Opera already has Opera Mini for iPhone and other Apple devices, but Opera Mini isn’t a complete web browser, and is ill-suited for modern, dynamic websites. “Opera mini is great, but it is not a fully-fledged offering like Chrome or Safari. There are too many sites it doesn’t work with,” noted Opera’s CEO Lars Boilesen.

Engine isn’t the only thing Opera Software is changing in Ice. It introduces a new paradigm for web browsing that is better suited for modern touch-enabled devices. Ice gets rid of the chrome entirely, and makes use of the full screen space to display content. This lends a web-app like feel to the web pages. Ice doesn’t look or feel like anything we have seen before from Opera Software. Opera’s products have never been about minimalism. They have been power horses, which offered gazillions of features to please the power users. With Ice, the priorities have changed. In fact, Opera is even going so far as to get rid of tabs. Internally, the browser will maintain tabs, but it will be abstracted from the user. One existing feature that will still be present in Ice is speed dials. However, Opera is ditching thumbnails for icons in Ice. Web search will also be retained in Ice. However, it will be completely redesigned to show live previews of results from various sources as you type your query. Check out the video embedded below to get a glimpse of Opera Ice in action. It was recorded during an internal all-hands meet held before Christmas, and was obtained by Pocket-Lint.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about Opera Ice. I love the idea of a browser designed from the start-up for touch; however, I am also worried that Opera might end up hindering usability and productivity by taking minimalism too far. I will reserve my judgement for now, since we don’t have enough information. However, I really hope that Opera nails it, and will definitely be taking Opera Ice for a ride, when it shows up next month.

Firefox 4 Beta for Android and Maemo Now Available

Mozilla has released the mobile version of their browser Beta 1 for mobile. The mobile version of uses the same technology as the desktop version and is optimized for mobile phones.

Firefox 4 Mobile

Firefox 4 beta mobile makes use of two new technologies in their architecture. The first one is called Electrolysis and allows the browser to run in a separate process. The second technology is known as Layers and improves overall performance of the browser in graphics areas such as scrolling, zooming and animations.

Firefox 4 Beta also includes Firefox Sync which allows users to sync between their mobile and desktop making their bookmarks, browsing history, tabs, passwords and form fill data available on multiple devices.

Firefox 4 Beta also makes use of the latest technologies such as and also supports add-ons. If you have a or based device, you can read more about Firefox 4 Beta mobile or download it from the official Mozilla blog.

Apple Classifies Opera Mini As Porn App on iPhone

Not sure how to take this, but Apple just marked Mini as an age-restricted over 17 material on the . As you can see from the screenshot below, the latest update to Opera Mini was flagged as restricted while i was upgrading the browser to the latest version.

iPhone Opera Mini Porn

Now I am not really sure what Opera has that is age-restricted, but it definitely made me smile thinking of all the possibilities on why this could have happened.

Are you seeing the same message while upgrading Opera Mini to the latest version on your iPhone or iPod Touch?

Opera Mini 5 On iPhone Video [Demos]

Now that has submitted the Opera mini app to the Apple app store, several people might have their fingers crossed, because if the Opera app does get approved, it would mean that iPhone users get to use one of the best mobile web browsers on planet Earth.

If you have no clue about how Opera Mini 5 will work on the iPhone, you can take a look at a video released by Opera, which showcases it’s features, which include:

  • A really fast browser for iPhone.
  • Opera Speed Dial
  • Fast browsing even on a 2G network.
  • Easy tab management, better scrolling and more.

The video also has comparison between the Opera browser and iPhone’s native Safari browser, where Opera Mini is obviously the fastest one. Guess what Apple might have to say about that.

Firefox Mobile for Android Coming in February

Mozilla is looking to take the mobile world with storm with the release of Firefox Mobile "Fennec" for . However, another interesting news from Phandroid confirms that a Firefox Mobile version for is under works and will be made available for downloads soon.

firefox_mobile_for_android

This news comes shortly after the release of Firefox Mobile "Fennec" RC3 for Maemo, which suggests that a final release of the Maemo version is just around the corner. Firefox Mobile for Android will be made available as a beta release somewhere in February 2010. Unlike other browsers, Firefox Mobile has support for extensions. However, it still has to challenge the mighty Opera Mini and the impressive Skyfire before it goes on to become one of the best browsers for smartphones.

Are you looking forward to using Firefox Mobile on your Android device?

Image courtesy: Phandroid