Opera Mini 6 was released on Tuesday by the Norwegian company, offering what it describes on its website as “a different kind of browsing experience to complement the default iPad and iPhone browser.”
Speaking to the LA Times, Phillip Gronvold, a product manager at Opera, backed up the notion that Opera Mini 6 is less an enemy of Safari and more a friend. “We’re not trying to get people to choose Opera Mini over Safari, we want people to use it in addition to Safari,” said Gronvold. He explained how the latest version of the mobile browser will be particularly useful when, for example, Internet connectivity over a 3G network becomes unbearably slow, or when heavy use of Wi-Fi slows things down, at places like airports.
“The iOS platform does not handle well connecting on a crowded Wi-Fi network,” he told the Times. “But with Opera Mini 6, that is our strong suit. That is where we excel. So, in the case where you don’t get that quick page load on Safari as you might want, we can load pages for you faster than Safari can.”
Gronvold also explained how the navigation system for the latest version of Opera Mini has been overhauled to work in a similar way to how it does on Safari. “Opera Mini 5, sometimes it wouldn’t react how people expected because they were used to Safari and it didn’t feel like the same experience. We invested heavily to make the user experience the same, when you load a page, or pinch and zoom or interact with a page on Opera Mini 6, it’s the same way you’d do it with Safari.”
According to Opera’s website, other new features include:
- Much faster and smoother panning and zooming that lets the user get all the way into the details of every page, in one smooth motion
- Share buttons to share the love for a site to your friends on My Opera, Facebook, Twitter or vKontakte right from the Opera Mini 6 browser
- New jazzed-up skin and redesigned Opera menus
Regarding the reason for the timing of its release, coming some time after it appeared on other platforms, Gronvold commented, “We had to make sure Opera Mini 6 performed right, felt right, on every iOS device, going back to the original iPhone and the first iPod touch, and that just simply took time. But we think we’ve got it right.”
According to research by StatCounter, Opera Mini is the most widely used mobile browser in the world, holding a 21.9 percent share of the mobile market. When the Oslo-based company submitted the first version of the browser to the Cupertino company’s App Store, many thought it would be rejected by Apple on the basis of it duplicating the functionality of Apple’s built-in browser, Safari. However, the browser was approved by Apple in April 2010, making it the first third-party browser to get into the App Store and onto the iPhone.