I'm a big fan of the Opera browser, both in its grown-up desktop client and its mobile browser. It's my browser of choice on my Blackberry and it, along with Chrome and Firefox, are default options I offer to users. It's fast, pretty, and has useful features for developers. It works a treat on my kid's Nintendo DSi, too. Great. Today, the company released a significantly updated beta for Android and, despite my affection for the browser, I'm left scratching my head.
Android, like the iPhone, already has a great web browser built in based on the WebKit framework. It's fast, renders well, and integrates nicely with the rest of the phone's OS. Choice and competition, of course, are all well and good. One has to wonder, though, what incentives users might have to choose Opera Mini over the native Android browser (or over Safari on the iPhone, for that matter).
According to Opera's press release,
Opera Mini 5 beta for Android is finally here! Featuring all your favorite Opera features such as Speed Dial, tabbed browsing, compression, speed and a smooth design.
We know many of you have been waiting a long time to get Opera Mini for Android, so we're very excited to hear what you think of it!
True, the Android browser lacks true tabbed browsing (although one could argue that multiple switchable windows are actually a more useful paradigm on a small screen). Does the speed dial feature cut it? According to PCWorld, "There is also a password manager that can be used to store passwords for e-mail, social networking sites and online banking."
What am I missing here? Is it worth it to replace the native browser on Android like it is on a Blackberry?