Opera's Coast browser comes to the iPhone

After its release on the iPad last year, Opera has brought its touch-friendly browser to Apple smartphones too.

Opera announced today that its Coast by Opera web browser is available for iPhone.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor for the iPad, which was released last autumn , this browser is also free to download from Apple's App Store.

Back then, Coast garnered positive reviews as a result of its user interface being designed from the bottom up specifically for a touchscreen. It's regarded in some quarters as it as the first true touchscreen browser, with a clean UI that's been stripped of the traditional chrome associated with most web browsers.

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The browser operation is also much more swipe-based than most — and now this user experience is available for users of Apple's tablets as well as its smartphones.

Better looking on the iPhone

The homescreen on Opera Coast for iPhone has practically the same interface and layout we saw in the iPad version: a search and address field on top, nine shortcut tiles to user-selectable websites in centre — which Opera calls the 'speed dial'. On the bottom of the screen is a button for newly opened websites not saved to the speed dial, as well as a 'bar button' in the lower right corner of the screen, offering recently visited websites.

Opera says it has rethought the use of each pixel on the screen, instead of just scaling down the screen from a PC.

The 9x9 tile grid looks much more natural on an iPhone compared to the iPad version, because of the difference in screen size. On an iPad, the grid could have been much larger without sacrificing other screen elements, as there's lots of spare pixels on the tablet version (something Opera's CTO, Håkon Wium Lie, wanted the development team to look into when ZDNet caught up with him earlier this year ).

Better search, and iCloud sync

The search and address functionality has been improved in this version. Related words will appear below the search field as text is typed into it.

What Opera calls "quality website" suggestions will also be suggested as you type into the field, via a tile above the search field. To visit the suggested site, users just need to press the tile. There's also a letter G below the search box, to search from the Google home page.

Along with this release, there's a new version of the browser also available for iPad. When you’re using the new Coast on both iPad and iPhone, you can sync the speed dial tiles and the newly opened stack between the units, using your iCloud account.

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