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back to article Opera for iPhone: The review

At last. Apple approved Opera's Mini browser for the iPhone overnight, and in in a few hours it's already attracted over 150 reviews. They're not all positive, and not all accurate, but it's an indication of how much interest there is in a better browser. While Safari was the jewel in the crown of the iPhone user interface, it …

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Proof of concept.

As a proof of concept it's excellent, and I have no doubt that this is exactly what it is. It's got a long way to go before it can be considered a finished product. I'd like to see the UI made more iPhone-like. Other than that, good V1.0 effort. Can we have a finished 10.50 for Mac and Linux now, please!

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Gates Halo

@sbuk

"It's got a long way to go before it can be considered a finished product."

Err, well it is a finished product because it's released and available for everyone's iPhone from the appStore now!

I'm sure you'd like to see improvement in subsequent versions, and I'm certain they shall come. But the 'proof of concept' mantra makes you look like a devout Safari user chewing on a wasp!

It can't be a good V1.0 *and* a proof of concept. That precedes a prototype, let alone a beta version.

Anyway, there's *always* more to be done on all mobile browsers, be it Opera 3 for the Psion 5 in 2000 or Opera Mini for the iPhone a decade later.

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Anonymous Coward

I here what you are saying...

Not sure if it warranted that level of pedantry though! I wasn't having a go, merely calling it as I saw it. The release feels very beta. That's all. How is what I said an mantra given that Opera themselves have said this was about testing the water with Apple? How does my wishing it felt more iPhone-like make me a "Safari user chewing on a wasp!" Maybe I wasn't particularly clear, but that was a bit harsh.

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Boffin

Just a thought...

...but I imagine that many of the glitches that you raise will be addressed by the Opera boffins in their usual fashion (i.e. they actually listen to their users) but I imagine that with no guarantee that it would be accepted given the precedents and constraints on such an app there had to come a point where they stopped polishing it because there was no guarantee that the work would be worth it. Now that it's live and working (and yes, I downloaded it this morning and so far I do like it, but then I don't do a massive amount of mobile browsing except idle Google searches, rugby/cricket/golf commentaries/scores, news etc etc etc, the issues with things like Slashdot won't bother me. Speed is phenomenal compared to Safari which is the most important aspect for me).

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Happy

so does that mean

opera will be shouting at the EU for apple to require a 'which browser' button?

Still 10/10 for opera actually getting this onto the iphone, well done :)

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WTF?

Why?

Why would Opera be shouting at the EU?

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Speed Dial

The speed dial doesn't actually load all the pages whenever you view it. When you add a page to speed dial, it simply goes to the url to get and image of the website and then caches it. But it only does this when you add a new a page and never again.

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Umm..

------

And what's a web browser supposed to do, other than get you to some web pages fast? (Er... web and Flash developers: please post your thoughtful essays in the bin.)

------

Ummm - I am a web developer and my thoughtful essay about what web browsers are supposed to do is simply: agreed - that's what a web browser IS supposed to do - anything else is extra (including Flash, JavaScript and so on).

So there :P

I guess that's what makes me a developer rather than a designer maybe.

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Default search sucks

Because it goes through operas proxy page cruncher Google thinks you're in a nordic country or something..

So a search for "bbc" (for example) results in this: http://imgur.com/pCkZ0.png

You can't change the default away from Google.com so if you want relevant searches by going to say google.co.uk you have to:

1. Press the search box

2. Press the down arrow

3. Scroll down to your manually added Google UK

4. Enter what you want to search for etc.

After a very short amount of time this gets really annoying.

Also, Googles cool iphone type pages don't work on opera mini.

I am referring to this: http://imgur.com/hJ38U.png

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Workaround

Could you work around this with a custom search? So appending any search with a string for google.co.uk?

I've not downloaded it yet, so haven't tried - just a thought, that's all.

I expect that now Opera know that their browser is actually allowed on the iPhone, we'll see some good further efforts to refine the product.

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Google's fault

"Also, Googles cool iphone type pages don't work on opera mini."

That's Google's fault for not sending the right page to Opera.

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Security?

(How) does security and animation work when everything is done on Opera's servers?

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Security

All communication between the client and server is encrypted.

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FAIL

re: Security

No it bloody isn't. There are a multitude of commentards on here who believe that security means "it's encrypted".

Let's get it straight. Data is encrypted between https://www.mybank.com and Opera. IT IS THEN DECRYPTED. Opera then render, compress and encrypt the data stream, and send it to your iPhone. I've put the flaw in block capitals so that you might spot it. It really saddens me that my assumptions tell me the people reading these articles are IT folk and think that chain represents a secure connection.

You're having to trust a third party you have no connection or involvement with. To put it another way, what would the reaction be if it were Google doing it.

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Stop

"Pinch-to-zoom isn't implemented, and after a while you start to miss it."

Isn't it? It works for me. Wonder what's wrong there - is it different on disparate devices? 3gs certainly does have it.

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agreed - pinch-zoom works on my iPod touch 3rd gen

so I don't know what the reviewer is talking about

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Pleasing all round

I can't blame Opera for not going to too much trouble to customise it to the iPhone just yet, given that they did not know whether Apple would accept it or not. Now that they know they are not wasting my time, I suspect that they probably will, or at least I hope they will.

My thoughts using it are similar to yours - it is really fast, and I missed pinch to zoom.

The real thing is that we now have browser competition on the iPhone. This is great. Some praise is due to Apple for allowing it.

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Judging by their desktop browser...

... they're running around now half-implementing controls that look a little like the OS's built in ones and writing their own duplicates of any OS-wide services that people find helpful, so that they can claim full integration in whatever press release space they have spare between their ongoing complete reinventions of the web.

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" ... so some choice is long overdue"

And has been available for well over a year, if the author of the article could have been bothered to look. Other than the proxy compression, many browsers on the iPhone have offered one or more of all the other features that the article mentions.

iCab mobile in particular has offered them all and a lot, lot more:

Optional site compression? Yes (via Google in this case).

Disable images? Yes.

Offline browsing? Yes.

Session saving? Yes.

Downloads? Yes.

Private browsing? Yes.

Ad blocking? Yes.

Browser spoofing? Yes.

Orientation lock? Yes.

Kiosk (fullscreen) mode? Yes.

Password protected form auto-fill? Yes.

Controlled tabbed browsing (i.e. prompts to open links in fore or background, etc.)? Yes.

Domain specific tabbed browsing (i.e. open links from same domain in a different way to those from other domains, such as in tab versus new tab)? Yes.

Default search engine choice? Yes.

Ability to add other search engines? Yes.

Cookie editing? Yes.

Modules to add JS functionality? Yes.

Bookmark export and synching? Yes.

The majority of those options were present in version 1.0. A few have been added since the initial release. Opera Mini offers nothing new other than poor rendering and a loss of your browsing privacy to Opera.

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iCab...

Unfortunately, iCab is horrible and slow. Opera Mini is MUCH faster.

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FAIL

Privacy?

"iCab mobile in particular has offered them all and a lot, lot more:

Optional site compression? Yes (via Google in this case).

Opera Mini offers nothing new other than ... a loss of your browsing privacy to Opera."

Are you actually saying that you'd prefer to give a list of all of the pages you visit to Google rather than to Opera?

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Anonymous Coward

**Optional**

Personally, no I wouldn't, which is why I don't use this **optional** feature.

However, for those who are happy to let Opera invade their privacy, I assume they would also have no problems with Google.

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Anonymous Coward

iCab yes

iCab is excellent.

Proxy compression? No thanks.

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Orientation lock

Missing a soft-orientation lock for browsing in bed. Other than that, a pretty good effort given they couldn't easily do a public beta process like most modern-day developments.

Not keen on the zooming yet - single tap for zoom is just bound to have problems.

How much I trust Opera to potentially hold all my browsing history - I don't know

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Yes, but is it secure?

Can a knowledgeable person comment on the security aspects of Opera Mini and its proxy servers?

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, Opera Mini is secure

Why not go to Opera's website and get your answer directly from the moose's mouth? It'll be quicker and more reliable than waiting for another commenter to post a reply:

http://www.opera.com/mobile/help/faq/#security

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WTF?

Strange definition of "secure"

From the FAQ:

"Q: Can I browse securely with Opera Mini?

A: Yes.

[...]

Q: Is there any end-to-end security between my handset and — for example — paypal.com or my bank?

A: No. If you need full end-to-end encryption, you should use a full Web browser such as Opera Mobile."

Oh. So Opera Mini is secure, but only if you don't use it. That's the strangest definition of security I've read for some time...

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Anonymous Coward

FUD

You curiously edited out just one FAQ:

Q: Does Opera Mini support encrypted connections?

A: Yes. Information sent between your handset and the Web site is encrypted in the advanced version of Opera Mini 3.0 and newer versions.

There then follows a link to "Why does the page information say that the connection is not secure when you said all traffic is encrypted?"

http://www.opera.com/mobile/help/faq/#encryption

The last poster couldn't be bothered to look at the FAQ. But you went there, copied & pasted selected snippets and *still* came away asking questions that were already answered.

I take it you're not so keen on Opera Mini then?

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Re: Yes, Opera Mini is secure

That FAQ seems quite out of date as it refers to Opera Mini 3. Version 5 is the one released for the iPhone. Also, on the wiki page about Opera Mini it states this:

"Privacy and security

When using Opera Mini 4.0 or 3.0 Advanced, the connection between the mobile device and the proxy server is always encrypted for privacy and security. The encryption key is obtained on the first start by requesting that the user press random keys a certain number of times."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_Mini#Privacy_and_security

However, on the iPhone you are *not* prompted to enter any random keys when first starting. This still leaves a few open questions...

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Alert

Speaking of FUD

You missed a passage yourself...

"Yes. Information sent between your handset and the Web site is encry"pted in the advanced version of Opera Mini 3.0 and newer versions.

In the basic version of Opera Mini 3.0, and in older versions, there is no encryption between your handset and the Opera Mini servers. See a more detailed explanation"

So what's the iPhone? Basic or Advanced? (it's version 5.0.0176 whatever that's worth)

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Boffin

re: FUD

Nope, I don't think the edited out FAQ was misleading. There is no secure end-to-end connection available via Opera Mini. End-to-end means there should be no gap between the end user and the hosting server. You are trusting a 3rd party (Opera Software in this case) where normally no 3rd party exists.

At the end of the day, it's a choice you make. I for one would hesitate to use Opera Mini on any platform for on-line banking. Think about it, you're effectively asking someone you don't know to enter your security details and tell you the result.

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Black Helicopters

FUD indeed

I didn't miss any passage. I provided the link to the full FAQ. The other poster then selectively read and snipped to cause FUD.

In one sentence, you quote "advanced version of Opera Mini 3.0 and newer versions".

Then you seem puzzled as to what the iPhone version is and state it as being "version 5.0.0176".

Do you really need to be led by the hand and have it explained that "version 5.0.0176" comes under the "and newer versions" bit after "version 3.0"? Your spelling and punctuation suggest otherwise, which raises the question of why some people are pursuing a matter that's so clearly laid to rest in Opera's own documentation. Make your own choices about the validity of Wikipedia, but it concurs.

The advanced release of Opera Mini 3.0 was simply a special edition inbetween V3 and V4. It was essentially made to bring some of the forthcoming V4 features to version 3 for the benefit of its licensees. Version 3.5 may have been a more logical name, but who knows what goes through the minds of the marketing people and the sales people doing deals with handset manufacturers and carriers, whose contracts are very specific about upgrade entitlements.

Besides, do you really think Apple would approve an app that left its users so exposed to danger? Would they honestly treat their customers that appallingly? And I suspect, given the events leading up to its release, Opera has been scrutinised more than most.

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Love it already

Like it ALOT. Seems alot faster than Safari, renders very well, and on metered connections can save MASSIVE amounts of money in data charges.

I've already been converted to Opera Desktop 10.51, as it's also very quick, looks great and is fully loaded with features, without looking and feeling like it's loaded with features.. (I got sick of Firefox's bloat at turns up every time you want something trivial added), Opera seems to have it built in, for free and without the bloat.

I've hapilly moved from Firefox to Opera in the desktop, and I can see myself moving from Safari to Opera in my iPhone too...

Happy Days...

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Re: Rendering Glitches & Security

As Opera proxy's the pages through their servers updates to the way the pages are rendered is done centrally meaning that the browsing experience can go through many versions without have to get the end user to upgrade. As Opera uses the same servers for all their Opera Mini clients (J2ME, Blackberry, Android & iPhone) those changes will be made just as soon as the team port over the core rendering engine from the desktop browser.

Opera Mini 5 has been more of a cosmetic upgrade as the fullpage browsing experience that has been present on devices running Opera Mini 4 since late 2007, has remained largely unchanged.

Re: Security

On first load Opera Mini prompts the user for some random input inorder to salt key generation, which is used to encrypt the communication between the Opera Mini client and the Opera servers. Therefore between you and Opera the pipe is encrypted. When browsing public sites, the connection between Opera and that site can then be protected by SSL if the HTTPS version of the public site is being used.

Therefore the only potential break in end-to-end encryption is when the page is rendered by Opera on their servers, and Opera have a great security/privacy record.

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WTF?

Re: Security

"On first load Opera Mini prompts the user for some random input inorder to salt key generation.."

Errr... I wasn't prompted to provide any random input when I installed the app.

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@AC 12.59

"Opera Mini offers nothing new other than poor rendering and a loss of your browsing privacy to Opera."

Speed. It offers faster speeds than any other iPhone browser. Did you read the article? It's basically Opera's USP. It's right here, the first feature that's mentioned on the opera mini homepage:

http://www.opera.com/mobile/

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Anonymous Coward

Did you read mine?

Site compression has been possible in iCab mobile for months now (as long as you were willing to sacrifice your privacy to Google - not for me, but nor is Opera mini, regardless of speed gains). Blockable images have been in iCab mobile for well over a year now.

Opera mini offers nothing *new* to the iPhone platform. It has no USPs. The author of the article was too damned lazy to find this out and report it.

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FAIL

Not site compression

Opera Mini doesn't do site compression, it does remote rendering and compresses the result. This makes a vast difference to both the size of data, and the type of data, meaning that the true bandwidth possibilities of 3G can be used, rather than the latency wrecked http transmissions usual with the iPhone. It might be that iCab also does remote rendering and compression of the result - but you definitely didn't say that in your marketing spiel further up the thread.

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Import bookmarks from Safari..

A tip in how to get your Bookmarks from Safari into Opera.

http://my.opera.com/chooseopera/blog/2010/04/13/how-to-import-your-bookmarks-to-opera

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Anonymous Coward

Flash?

No mention that flash sites now appear correctly. Is this because they don't/can't as they're interactive and the remote rendering breaks them? Want to understand as this could be a good app to get certain fun sites to work properly on my Touch.

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Big Brother

Fear of Flash

You won't hear any love for Flash from these fake-geeks, these guys are all non-programmers ("web developers") who fear Flash (and therefore hate it) because they realize they're incapable of learning a true OOP language (AS3) and they fear for their jobs as HTML jockeys.

That's the ENTIRE reason for all the Flash hate - fear of losing their jobs. And you know what?They're right.

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Troll

As an OOP programmer...

...I can tell you that people hate flash because it is shit.

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Stop

re: Fear of Flash

Ming the Merciless certainly fears Flash.

Flash is an abomination to web standards. Effectively you're downloading a browser with each website when you've got a perfectly good one already running. Search engines fail to penetrate it, screen readers don't stand a chance and suddenly every page is 10x the size. It is absolutely the worst idea since the "web developers" came up with the idea of using tables as a layout tool.

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Re: Fear of Flash

I program in C, C++ and Java for a living. I have no fear of Flash. I do have a laugh at the ActionScript though - it's a piss poor programming language. As for losing my job, I know the feature set of Flash very well, and there's no way it's can replace what I, or many other like me, do for a living.

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It's replaced Safari on my dock...

...so so fast, especially as I'm on the original iPhone it was a no-brainer! Now, if only they'd implement a proper autocomplete feature on their desktop browser as well...

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RE: "Did you read mine?"

Do a side-by-side comparison of opera mini and ical with google site compression.

Load up news.bbc.co.uk.

Tell me which browser loads it faster, which browser loads it better (as compared to a desktop browser) and which combines both best.

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Close...

...but no cigar.

I'm on GPRS (thanks, bloody crappy o2 3G service), and can't see the supposed speed increases, on the sites I visit. Wifi speed is as good as identical too. If speed is it's USP, it's not a good one based on my personal experiences.

And when I do get there, the rendering is poorer than Safari - text & layout especially. And I just don't get on with the interface and the crude zooming.

It's staying on the phone, but it's not replacing Safari on the dock just yet.

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Got the cigar!

Opera Mini is MUCH faster on anything but WiFi. On WiFi it's just modestly faster than Safari.

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Anonymous Coward

Cigars

...it's faster for you. But not me.

I've done the bbc comparison, and saw a neglible improvement - it was small enough to question how accurately I had timed it.

I've also tried this site too. This site appeared crudely laid out faster than safari, but by the time the page was fully loaded, I'd only say it was 2 second faster at best. On the 3 attempts I tried, that varies from 0-10% faster only.

I was on GPRS(E) at the time (16:00 UK)

More importantly, due to the clunky zooming and navigation, I was actually slower getting to the content I wanted, compared to Safari.

All I'm saying is...People here are saying it's faster, with slightly evangelical overtones - the implication is that people who don't see it being faster are obviously doing something wrong. Just because Opera say it's faster, doesn't make it so. Just check out the weaseling that goes on in the graphics market, to see where this sort of marketing can lead in the wrong hands.

Don't get me wrong - while my 10% *is* faster, it's not FASTER...not fast enough for me to say "bloody hell that was quick". And given GPRS, 10% is small varience, given the range of signal quality you can receive anyway. I could hold my phone above my head, and get a 10% improvement. Or degredation.

If you're genuinely getting faster browsing...good on ya. I'm not.

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Searching a site

"Custom searches are a real time-saver on Opera desktop: with one click you can set up, say, a search for The Register (or any site with an externally-accessible search field)"

You do know that typing "site:theregister.co.uk keyword" into google does the same thing, I hope? What's more, the site doesn't need to have any search functionality at all, never mind externally-accessable...

Guess what, you can bookmark the search too...

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