Opera is a fast, innovative web browser that’s been popular on the desktop for a long time. When the Opera team released their browser for the iPhone, it instantly reached the position of most downloaded free app, showing that people really loved it.
The team is at it again, with the newest addition to the Opera suite of browsers. Opera Mini for iPad boasts a clean, simple user interface, with a really neat way of switching tabs. The desktop version of Opera has a feature that lets you drag the toolbar down to reveal a sliding track of tab thumbnails for each tab you have open. The iPad release keeps this feature, giving you instant access to a stack of thumbnails also, stacked and slightly offset, depending on how many you have open. It’s a really neat feature and one you’ll have to try and experience yourself. Throughout our testing, the whole app exhibited really smooth scrolling, and very slick, clean animations. Very nice. The only caveat we found was that the browser reports itself as a mobile browser, so sometimes you’ll need to tap the “Full Site,” “Classic Site,” or “Desktop Version” link on a site, which can get tiresome. It’s a minor issue, but one we wish they’d address in an update.
Opera’s biggest claim to fame has always been its “Turbo Mode,” which caches the pages you request on the Opera servers, sending you a compressed version of the page in real time. The company claims this reduces mobile data usage by over 90%. This is a really big deal, for those of us using 3G iPhones and iPads on our severely limited 250MB or 1GB per month data plans. In a nutshell, the company claims you can use a mere 10% of the amount of data you’d be consuming with other iPad browsers if you use Opera Mini. That’s a big claim, but the company has well over a decade of browser-engineering experience to back it up. Additionally, by using less data, your web pages should download significantly faster than they do in other browsers. We’ll have to see how this stacks up in real life, but the company does have a fairly solid track record.
Opera Mini is available now as a free download for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch in the iOS App Store. Give it a try, and you may just be impressed.