Popular desktop web browser replacement gurus Opera Software have released their latest masterpiece for Android phones, Opera 10.1 Beta. I wont sit here and tell you that there is anything wrong with the native Android web browser, because I don’t think that is true, especially since the native browser has full flash support now. Still, sometimes it is nice to try something different, and competition is always good for the consumer.
Opera mobile 10.1 offers some features that are actually very cool. One of the most important features is the browser’s Turbo Mode. Turbo Mode significantly speeds up web page loading by compressing data to make the overall load smaller. For example, with Turbo Mode enabled (it’s able to be toggled on and off through the settings button on the browser’s main page) Opera will compress (decrease) the quality of any images on the website, as well as taking all formatting off the text. So basically, the page loads up with semi-blurry pictures, and all the text looks like it’s all in Times New Roman font. That may not sound very desirable, but it actually works great. During times when there is significant network congestion, this really comes in handy for continued speedy browsing, and even with normal network speeds, it makes navigation even faster than the native Android browser.
Another big feature is the ability to synchronize your bookmarks with Opera on your PC via Opera Link. I probably ask myself every week why Android can’t update their browser to sync with the bookmarks on my PC. Apparently the programmers of Opera Mobile felt my pain. In order to use this feature, you need to sign up for an Opera link account. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, because you can use the Opera link account to access your favorite bookmarks from any computer as well.
Mobile View (also a toggle option within the settings) will render a webpage into one column the width of your screen, that way you won’t have to do any sideways scrolling. I personally don’t see much use for this, as I familiarize myself with most sites by their layout on a full computer screen, but I can see where it might be useful for reading a page that is very text-heavy.
Overall, I think Opera makes for an excellent native browser replacement, and with its exclusive features, such as Turbo Mode, and Opera Link, I may just make it my daily driver. Oh, and don’t worry, Opera Mobile supports Flash too!
Opera Mobile is available in the Android Market. It is a free app. Enjoy!