Browsing on a mobile phone had been something of a holy grail for me being the geek that I am. The thought of checking in with websites and keeping an eye on my business at the time seemed great but until the iphone came along, nothing really delivered.
Safari on the iPhone was a great leap forward in browser innovation, rendering in a full desktop experience, nothing came close to what Apple squeezed onto a phone, however, it’t not without it’s drawbacks, being cumbersome and a touch heavy on older iPhones.
Opera has been about for years and my first experience was with the floppy disk based sized browser. Yup.. a browser in 1.44 mb in a time before USB keys, this was a miracle. What makes opera different to other browsers is data compression. Normally you browse a website and their server sends the data to your phone and thats that. With opera you visit the website and data comes through their servers but the data sent is compressed. Images are compressed along with data and rendered on your phone.
When Opera was first released on the iPhone it quickly shot up to be one of the most downloaded apps in the world. I remember downloading it over an Edge signal just to play with it, patiently waiting, actually excited about an app.
Running the first version of Opera left me more than disappointed. Yes data was compressed but the user experience was horrible. Scrolling was jerky, nothing like the slick sheen of safari, the interface was non intuitive leaving you feeling you were always tapping and prodding at the screen rather than smooth swiping that we all now take for granted. Used for all of 10 minutes and then deleted that version was a massive let down.
Opera Mini 6 is now my default browser on the iPhone but not without a few small faults. Some websites send you to a mobile version of their site when using opera mini. That’s not the browsers fault but the website. On some pages when filling out forms the screen gets confused BUT despite minor quibbles, its my browser of choice.