Opera takes a jab at the iPhone

One of the selling points of Apple’s upcoming iPhone is the device’s built-in Safari web browser. Unlike other mobile browsers, which truncate pages to make them fit on their host devices’ tiny screens, the iPhone flavor of Safari renders full-sized versions of web pages and allows users to zoom in and out to read text or look at pictures. Well, ten days before the iPhone launch, Opera has made a preemptive strike against Apple’s device by introducing a new beta version of its Opera Mini browser that boasts similar functionality:

The Opera Mini 4 beta works with a wide range of smart phones and is freely available as a 117KB download from the WAP page mini.opera.com/beta. Of course, most smart phones lack a touch screen, a shortcoming for which Opera’s new software compensates by implementing a virtual cursor. Users can control the cursor with either their phone’s direction keys or with the numeric keypad, which allows for faster scrolling and zooming. It’s also possible to disable the new zoom mode and display pages in traditional, truncated fashion.

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    • Materiel
    • 14 years ago

    Doesn’t work very well on Blackberry Curve, the zooming feature doesn’t seem to be supported by the navigation device.

      • blastdoor
      • 14 years ago

      What?? How strange. I recently heard that installing third party apps on phones is as easy as copying mp3 files…

      • bhtooefr
      • 14 years ago

      Try hitting the 5 key to zoom. However, Blackberry support seems to be buggy.

    • gtoulouzas
    • 14 years ago

    Does this require an overwriting of the previous Opera Mini version? That’s a feature that has always bugged me about Opera’s excellent mobile browsers.

      • bhtooefr
      • 14 years ago

      No, actually – the name of this is “Opera Mini 4 beta,” whereas the old versions are all “Opera Mini.”

    • mikehodges2
    • 14 years ago

    Awesome. Works on my w900i! All it needs now is an ad-blocker, so I dont waste my precious free Megabyte a month on downloading ad’s ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Google Maps doesn’t work properly though ๐Ÿ™ Can anyone else get it? What phone are you using?

      • indeego
      • 14 years ago

      Works great on my treo 700wg{<.<}g Lots of other apps don't work right on it though, so it's a crapshootg{<.<}g Show me a stable mobile platform that supports Windows mobileg{<...<}g

      • Soul Colossus
      • 14 years ago

      i believe google has their own phone app for maps.. at least they do for WM5

        • mikehodges2
        • 14 years ago

        So they do. It works a treat! Good ol’ smart phones ๐Ÿ™‚

          • bhtooefr
          • 14 years ago

          Nope, these aren’t smart. These are “dumb” phones running J2ME software. My phone is barely even a mid-range phone, and it’s over a year old… and it runs this stuff quite nicely.

          Anyway, I do believe AJAX stuff isn’t supported by Opera Mini, and that’s why Google Maps breaks. But, there is always the app for that, and on a cell phone interface, I’d really rather use that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Severus
    • 14 years ago

    The Nokia E91 has had this built into it for about a year now. Its a great technology and makes browsing on the go substantially easier.

      • bhtooefr
      • 14 years ago

      You mean the N91?

      Actually, the N91 is a smartphone, and it’s running a WebKit-based browser, AFAICT.

      If you want the PROPER version of Opera for it, which has had similar features (IIRC) for years, that’s 1.5 MiB – it’s got the full Presto renderer and all.

      Opera Mini 4 is impressive because it does this in 90 kiB. Of course, it’s rendering OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language – proprietary, only used by Opera Mini) instead of HTML – the rendering is left up to the server.

        • Severus
        • 14 years ago

        Ooops sorry, I meant the E61 ยง[<http://www.nokia.com.hk/nokia/0,,93009,00.html<]ยง I own one, and got the model number wrong >_<

          • bhtooefr
          • 14 years ago

          Well, the same applies – the same version of Opera is what runs on this device.

            • Severus
            • 14 years ago

            Yeah fair enough. What I really meant was “I’ve been browsing this way for a year and you can take it away from me when you pry my E91 from my cold dead hands” ๐Ÿ™‚

            • bhtooefr
            • 14 years ago

            E61, right? ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Severus
      • 14 years ago

      lol yes :p I shouldnt post late at night!

    • crose
    • 14 years ago

    Nice feature but I just tried it on my Nokia N73 which has a fairly big screen for a regular candybar phone and the ‘fit to screen’ mode is still better.

    • droopy1592
    • 14 years ago

    I wonder if this will work on a w810i

    • LoneWolf15
    • 14 years ago

    Just put it on my Treo 700p (note: palm users need to install IBM’s Java first) . Note that if you have a page that’s full of text, it will likely show up as just small horizontal lines, so you’ll need to do a lot of zooming. It has already frozen my phone once, requiring a reboot. Difficult tell if that’s the fault of Java, the browser (or its relatively beta state), or the phone itself.

    I haven’t tested much yet, but when I’ve got a chance, I’ll put out a few more notes.

      • blastdoor
      • 14 years ago

      I have to say, i think this post validates Apple’s strategy with iPhone. I don’t think most people want a phone that freezes. My wife had a treo and finally junked it because it was so unstable.

      Again and again we see the huge disconnect between geeks who have a low opportunity cost of time and the rest of the world (I’m not referring now to this specific post, but to techno-geeks more broadly). The geeks just don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to install java on their phone in order to run a beta browser that crashes their phone. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is only vaguely aware that the geeks exist at all.

      I think MS’s business model is on much shakier ground on these “appliance” types of devices. The stability that comes from comrade Jobs’ iron grip might be more appealing to most users.

        • BabelHuber
        • 14 years ago

        Just tried it out on my Motorola V3X. Works nicely.

        I don’t think this is only for geeks. Everybody who can install a piece of Software on a computer can also download a JAR file.

        Lots of people already have MP3s on their phone. If they can send an MP3 to a phone, they can also send a JAR file.
        Then the phone asks ‘Do you want to download this?’ and afterwards ‘do you want to install this?’

        You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to do this, really! From there on it simply worked, without me requiring to set up anything on the phone.

        Claiming that Apple users are incapable of doing this is an insult, BTW ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • blastdoor
          • 14 years ago

          I never said they (myself included) are not *capable* of doing it. It’s an issue of whether it’s worth the effort. I think that it is hard for people on the geekier side of the fence to understand why it’s really not worth the effort for people on the non-geeky side of the fence. Anything is easy to do once you know how to do it and are confident that what you’re doing is right. But if you don’t know that, then the effort to find it out is non-trivial and just not worth the time for many people.

          I should also point out that I don’t mean the work “geek” to be either an insult or a compliment — just a rough descriptor. In many ways, I’m plenty geeky, but my geekiness is no longer quite as computer-centric as it used to be. I guess I’m a fence sitter between geekdom and normaldom.

            • BabelHuber
            • 14 years ago

            My point was that there was no effort involved whatsoever. It was just easy, and everything works flawlessly.

            Anybody can do this, except of some mentally handicapped…

            • blastdoor
            • 14 years ago

            And my point is that it’s easy because you knew how to do it, and because in some ways you got lucky.

            Most people don’t know how to do it, and they don’t know how to find out how to do it. They assume that it will be hard, and so they don’t try. And frankly, their assumption is a pretty safe bet in many cases. We’ve all had the unpleasant experience of trying to install a piece of software on a computer that goes terribly wrong. A priori, you don’t know which will work and which won’t.

            The average person who once ruined their PC by installing some third party (non-virus) program does not want to repeat that experience on their phone.

            So I’m not denying that it was easy. I’m making a broader point.

            • BabelHuber
            • 14 years ago

            As I already stated: Lots of people transmit MP3s from their PC to their phone. These people also can transmit a JAR-file and click on ‘OK’ twice.

            For the sake of the argument, you are right that some people are even too stupid to do this.

            But to point out that only geeks can do this goes *[

            • blastdoor
            • 14 years ago

            I’m sorry that you can’t understand this.

            But so long as you are not a marketing guy for Palm, I’m sure you’ll have a long and prosperous life.

            • BabelHuber
            • 14 years ago

            q[<'m sorry that you can't understand this.<]q I'm actually sorry that you can: I can't understand lots of people: I can't understand people who are too stupid to use a PC - I know a fair share of non-geeky people who can, to a certain extent at least. I can't understand people who have troubles driving in a parking garage. I can't understand people who stand in a queue at McDonald's for five minutes and then, when they are asked what they want, start thinking about it. In general I can't understand people who are constantly overstrained no matter what they do. Creating a product for such people means creating a product for idiots. I don't want such a thing. Period.

        • UberGerbil
        • 14 years ago

        It’s not like Apple is the only company that knows how to sell appliances. MS may not, but the other phone companies aren’t complete idiots. If a Nokia is available with this browser pre-installed (once it is out of beta and doesn’t crash), or a Samsung, or whatever, that particular part of the playing field is level again. It may not have the sex appeal (or then again it might ยง[<http://www.pradaphonebylg.com/<]ยง ), or the nifty commecials, but it may not cost $599 either.

          • blastdoor
          • 14 years ago

          I think that “pre-installed” is the key. If it’s pre-installed and the vendor stands behind the product and has done the testing to make sure it works, then that’s fine — that’s basically what Apple is doing.

          The problem comes when the average user tries to install 3rd party software on a phone themselves.

        • Namarrgon
        • 14 years ago

        Who’s to say the iPhone will never freeze? You’re assuming that the first version of a complex device with a lot of fancy software will be perfectly stable, just because it comes from Apple? ๐Ÿ™‚

        And nobody’s forcing anyone to install beta browsers on their phone. You’d only do that if you wanted to (and didn’t mind risking it freezing). Non-geeks can stick to the included/tested functions.

        At least most smartphones give geeks the option, unlike the iPhone, which apparently doesn’t even support Java.

          • blastdoor
          • 14 years ago

          I’m sure that someone somewhere will experience a freeze on their iPhone (i never said otherwise). However, it will most likely be much less common than on a phone that allows people to install 3rd party apps.

          I think it’s fine for their to be geek phones and non-geek phones. The iPhone is the latter.

        • nstuff
        • 14 years ago

        Solid Apple products?
        Well, my second gen ipod nano (black 8gb) freezes/reboots about once a week. And all this thing has to do is play mp3s. No video, no cell, no internet, just play mp3s. Hmm, music stopped. Oh, the apple logo, it’s rebooting again. It used to be a lot worse than now though after a firmware update completely corrupted it and I had to do a full re-sync again, it’s been better. I can tell you my Philips mp3/cd player (which the ipod replaced) never crashed and it (for it’s time) was an amazing piece of hardware with the tons of features built into the firmware.

        Quicktime and itunes are horrible resource hogs. I don’t recall itunes ever crashing, but quicktime has crashing down to a science and always has since the early version 3 and 4.

        Apple may be trying to say they are a software company now, but if they continue trying to write software for Windows, we are all in trouble. Safari for Windows is a prime example.

        Back to phones:
        I have the Windows Mobile 5 Cingular 8125 (same h/w as the HTC Wizard) smartphone. As long as I stay away from crappy 3rd party software, it’s pretty happy. I restart it once every few weeks if it starts getting a little slow, otherwise, it’s been doing pretty good. The treos are known to have some reliability issues, especially when first released on fresh firmware.

          • blastdoor
          • 14 years ago

          All I can say is that your experiences with Apple products are radically different from mine. If I ever encounter similar problems, i will certainly re-evaluate Apple.

      • adisor19
      • 14 years ago

      Err.., that’s SUN’s Java, not IBM’s ๐Ÿ™‚

      Adi

        • indeego
        • 14 years ago

        IBM has a popular Java VM called “J9 JVMg{<"<}g

    • lex-ington
    • 14 years ago

    /me try a little later this week.

    • UberGerbil
    • 14 years ago

    Love the TR screen shot.

      • Shinare
      • 14 years ago

      Is that the same “Andre the Giant” hand that was used in the iPone’s new marketing material??

      ๐Ÿ˜‰

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