Opera Working On Full Android Browser

jonvonOver a year ago, Android fans saw the debut of Opera Mini for Android. This past January we let you know the company launched Opera Mini version 4.2 to the Android Market. But I assume the existence of an alternative browser in Android Market has largely fallen on deaf ears – the Web-kit based default browser provided by Google is already quite capable.

But Opera isn’t going out easily. According to CEO Jon von Tetzchner, the company is working on producing a full Opera Mobile version for Android, something that exists for Windows Mobile and Symbian only as of now. The “mini” version of Opera passes web data through Opera’s servers and re-renders the pages for mobile optimized viewing whereas the complete version would display the full HTML display.

Can Opera compete and/or does anyone care? I definitely think so. Mobile web browsing is far from perfect and we’ve got a LONG way to go in the field. There is a TON of room for innovation and Opera is in a position to make an impact. While Google’s “Chrome Lite” comes prepackaged with Google Experience Android phones, I assume that those without the Google branding are free to choose a competing default browser. Perhaps Opera can build some relationships and sign some contracts to become the default browser on a number of handsets?

As of now the details and timeline for the project are unknown – heck, there is no guarantee an actual full Opera for Android will ever launch, we just know it is being worked on. But the more minds focused on perfecting mobile web browsing the better, if you ask me.

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  • http://darkfox.dk/ DarkFox

    This is really awesome news.

    The latest Opera Mobile beta for UIQ contained some really awesome and innovative features.

    Opera Mobile has long been the best mobile browser and in my opinion it still is.

  • Jan

    This sounds really great. Hope it will get Opera Turbo as well. The android browser is actually really slow – and the Opera Mini browser is not good to handle with the touch screen.

  • Mark

    “passes web data through Opera’s servers” – how would this work for countries that filter web content? Wouldn’t they end up blocking Opera’s servers?

  • johnkzin

    If it will do REAL gmail, REAL google reader, and REAL google docs, then I’m all for it. What Android sorely lacks is a mechanism for accessing the REAL web, instead of the mobile web. For MOST web pages, you do get the real web … but, ironically, not for google’s own apps.

    If it’s just another browser for watered down “mobile web apps”, then I don’t see a reason to choose this over the existing two browsers for Android (the built-in one, and the existing opera-mini). But if it lets you use the real version of web apps, then I’ll even PAY for it.

  • Eric

    johnkzin… you can manually browse to the “real” google pages if you want to. They just assume you want to use the mobile version on your Android Phone. Why would you want a “real” Gmail? The application does it all much smoother and easier.

  • rsmrx8

    “But I assume the existence of an alternative browser in Android Market has largely fallen on deaf ears – the Web-kit based default browser provided by Google is already quite capable.”

    That’s quite an assumption. Opera Mini is blindingly fast at loading pages. The default browser is on par with Safari on an iPhone, e.g. SLOW. The gripes I have with Opera Mini are:

    1. Full screen text editor pops up instead of in-place text fields
    2. No manual zoom control
    3. Can’t set as the default browser
    4. Needs more adherence to Android app user interface standards

    Other than that, it is amazingly fast and unlike the default browser, doesn’t do a bunch of re-loading when you hit the back button. I can finish reading articles in Opera Mini in the time it takes the default browser just to LOAD them.

    Anyone without Opera Mini on their Android device is just hurting their own browsing experience. A more ‘native’ browser from Opera with Opera Turbo server-side compression would be AMAZINGLY welcome, and solidifies the choice to use Android instead of iPhone (which will not tolerate any browser competitors)

  • http://www.templeofandrex.com/ Andrex

    If it releases before Android’s browser supports Chrome Sync, I’ll use it instead. (Opera Link = ♥)

  • Andrew Perepelytsya

    Every mobile google app page has a link at the bottom to go to a full desktop version. Do your homework, please.

    On the subj, I’m really concerned with privacy of this architecture. Does it mean every page hit would go through their servers or just what I choose to?

    Next, Google has such service today already. I haven’t tried to access it directly, but e.g. from mobile google reader page one can check an option in settings, which will open any page in a ‘stripped down mobile version’. Technically it goes through their servers and is reformatted for mobile device. Opera will have to offer something really new on this front.

  • G

    “Perhaps Opera can build some relationships and sign some contracts to become the” … first Android browser with a flash 10.x plugin… :)

  • http://www.flash-the-brain.com Brenton

    Despite the fact that the UI for Opera Mini is about as useful as a one inch pencil, I use it because it’s wicked fast. Way, WAY faster than Google’s browser, or anything on my friends iPhone’s. Also, when you hit back, the page doesn’t have to reload, it’s there, ready to be viewed.

    All Opera really has to do to compete is fix the mini UI.

  • http://rahil.ca Rahil Sondhi

    This really is great news. One of the reasons I picked my HTC Magic over an iPhone is that I’m hoping for frequent software updates to the phone, like this Opera update (whenever it happens).

    @johnkzin I’m with Eric on this one. Why would you want the “real web” on your mobile browser? Through my Android browser, I use Google Reader and Google Tasks just fine. They create “watered down versions” for phones because phones can’t render the same things computers with big engines and 22″ monitors can.

  • Ryan

    +1 for Eric’s response…

  • Vince

    What makes you think Opera can make a mobile browser that properly supports Google Docs when their desktop version does not?

    Yes it loads, but there are so many bugs it’s essentially unusable. Just try adding a line break to a document and prepare for frustration.

    Not to mention how far behind the competition they are with JavaScript performance. Opera is a nice product in many respects, but Web 2.0 is not one of them.

  • http://www.androidy.de Lukas Klinzing

    I dont think the built in browser is quite the best one. It´s very slow, and the functionality, that if you close the browser for just few seconds, and then reopen it, that he reloads the complete page and rerender, and even rerender if you go one step back is terrible. And the possibility of going forward I miss. If you were somewhere, you want to go there again, without to have to load that page again…

    But what if opera doesnt handle tis too? I would love to try out another browsers

  • Morten

    Mark wrote on August 6, 2009

    “passes web data through Opera’s servers” – how would this work for countries that filter web content? Wouldn’t they end up blocking Opera’s servers?
    —————–
    Opera Tubro can be turned off in any case. But then you’re stuck at normal speed. D:

  • Sean Hollister

    One word: Steel.

    I started using Steel as my default web browser within a month of getting my G1, and I’ve rarely ever looked back. It’s faster and more intuitive than either Opera Mini or the revamped Cupcake original.

  • wut

    @Vince:

    “What makes you think Opera can make a mobile browser that properly supports Google Docs when their desktop version does not?”

    What makes you think the desktop version can’t?

    As far as I know, the reason for problems with Google Docs is that Google is specifically blocking Opera in some way. If Google would just stop blocking Opera, it would have worked fine.

    “Not to mention how far behind the competition they are with JavaScript performance.”

    Nonsense. Opera is very fast at JS. The only thing it doesn’t win at is a bunch of artificial JS benchmarks that don’t actually test relevant JS or real world performance. They only test whether the JS engine is using JIT and stuff like that. Opera’s new JS engine will support JIT and all that nonsense, but it won’t be faster on real sites because JS is not the main bottleneck.

  • wut

    @Vince:

    “What makes you think Opera can make a mobile browser that properly supports Google Docs when their desktop version does not?”

    .

    What makes you think the desktop version can’t?

    .

    As far as I know, the reason for problems with Google Docs is that Google is specifically blocking Opera in some way. If Google would just stop blocking Opera, it would have worked fine.

    .

    “Not to mention how far behind the competition they are with JavaScript performance.”

    .

    Nonsense. Opera is very fast at JS. The only thing it doesn’t win at is a bunch of artificial JS benchmarks that don’t actually test relevant JS or real world performance. They only test whether the JS engine is using JIT and stuff like that. Opera’s new JS engine will support JIT and all that nonsense, but it won’t be faster on real sites because JS is not the main bottleneck.

  • Morten

    What are you guys talking about?
    Google docs works perfectly in Opera.

    And Opera Mobile (for WinMo) works as well (I just tried), but gets booted by google whenever a document finishes loading, saying “Browser does not support web word-processing (even though you can edit docs, while the page is loading).

  • Morten

    My bad, by adding “browserok=true” as suggested by Google (props to them for that at least), I could open the document, but couldn’t really use it. Maybe thats get better with Opera mobile 9.7 or 10 though.

  • http://htc-magic-android.gb-eu.com/ Xavier

    Lukas Klinzing is bang on the money with his remarks about caching – or lack of it – in the default Android browser.

    It is bizarre to make each page reload when you restore the browser from minimised, or to make pages reload when you hit back.

    It is beyond bizarre and well into the realms of dementia when this behaviour is programmed into a mobile device that uses slow and unreliable GPRS coverage.

    What should be the simple act of switching back to the browser to a have a quick look at a page you already opened can easily take 5 minutes, or never if the GPRS connection has since been lost.

    Opera’s desktop browsers have always made intelligent use of caching, so I’m sure they’ll be able to get that right no problem.

    I’ll be there with my doolah to get hold of Opera’s browser if they do release it for Android.

  • blah

    If the new browser supports Multi-touch for android phones, it would be really great on the nexus one. Dolphin browser is okay but I want what the HTC hd2 has which is the opera browser.

  • http://www.fruit-emu.com james gloucester uk

    I have a nokia N95 and love both vers of opera. Opera mini is very fast and can cope with most sites but none of them can play embeded web based videos like the ones on flightlevel350 which are flash videos. I found that the skyfires browser can play any video on any site which to me is what im after for my android phone, but unfortunatly its not out for android yet. When it is i would recomend getting that one, you can even play flash games in web pages too. Untill then i will stick with opera mini.