Wednesday, April 14, 2010

IT: Opera Mini for the Apple iPhone

I have to say I was both excited and surprised the Opera Mini Browser was accepted and made available on the Apple store for the iPhone. I really didn't think Apple would accept it, but there you go. Credit goes to Apple. From the press I'm really getting the feeling Apple is excessively controlling and that puts me off. Accepting the Opera Mini Browser helps to counter the negative press and I think that is really good for Apple.

I was also excited as I've followed the Opera Browser over the years. It isn't my preferred browser, but I do use it on occasion. Having the Opera Browser on the iPhone was an exciting prospect for me as it opened up possibilities.

Unfortunately for me the Opera Mini didn't live up to my expectations. I only briefly used the Opera Mini browser and I found too many pages it didn't render well. It didn't fix the issue I have with a number of sites the Safari browser doesn't display well. Probably my biggest gripe was when I turned the iPhone into landscape mode the page didn't change to take advantage of the wider screen.

One thing I did feel was the text was slightly larger. I've found a number of people my age aren't happy with the iPhone as the text is often far too small. With Opera I found it slightly easier to read some sites so that was a plus. What I find is often I need to zoom to read text on the iPhone and I can do that in Safari using multi-touch. I couldn't use multi-touch to zoom in on a page to read the text with Opera Mini and to me that was a big limitation. Probably one of the biggest.

Overall my first impressions of Opera Mini on the iPhone is it wouldn't get me to switch from the Safari browser. I had really hoped for a great browser alternative. With the iPhone I often have to grab for my netbook to view something on the internet. I had hoped Opera Mini would help with that issue. It didn't and the lack of zooming using multi-touch, and when changing from portrait to landscape didn't improve my reading experience, means Opera Mini is probably not for me at this stage. I look forward to the next version of Opera Mini.

- Kelvin Eldridge

1 comment:

JustLocal said...

I decided to continue using Opera and see if as I learnt more whether my opinion would change.

Zooming - I've found that zoom in Opera Mini works differently. If you slide you fingers on a screen you zoom in. There is only a single level. Zoom or normal.

I didn't previously find the zoom feature. One reason is different pages act in different ways and this is true for Safari as well.

Now that I've found the zoom feature, my first impression was I didn't like it. It lacked the fine level of control of the Safari browser. But then after a while I found I really only needed to single zoom or normal view. Once zoomed I could pan around the screen. Reading is easier and it is less fiddly than Safari's finely controlled zooming. For certain things I'd prefer Safari, but in general Opera zoom work well for me.

Passwords - I have a site I visit every day (sometimes multiple times a day)that requires a username and password. Opera enables me to save the username and password making this much easier. This is better for me than Safari.

Search Engine - Most people just use Google, but I tend to want to change search engines or additional settings. I can't add a new search engine in Opera, but I can hijack one of the search engine and enter my own settings. For those who want to use Bing or Yahoo as your default search now you can. I will be able to use my own search engine. That's handy for me.

General readability - I often find reading web pages on Safari to be difficult. My eyes are good for a notebook or netbook, but for the tiny iPhone screen I have some trouble reading some pages. With Opera I found the pages a little easier to read. The zooming seemed to make it easier to read as well and was less fiddly than Safari.

Tabs and Speed Dial - The Tabs feature of Opera Mini feels easier to use than Safari's approach. With Speed Dial I can very quickly get to my often used pages. I felt this approach was better than Safari's approach.

Layout - In one test I the first day I found the layout of at least one page wasn't very good. I expect layout to be out and accept it occurs. But today I found the layout of one of the pages to be fine. That was a bit weird.

I don't yet know if Opera Mini will become my preferred browser, or whether I'll just resort to using Safari. I suspect I'll end up using both for different aspect of browsing the internet. Right now I'm fence sitting, but leaning towards using Opera Mini.

Overall I'm glad I've persisted with Opera Mini.

- Kelvin