Since Torch Mobile got bought over by RIM, their mobile browser Iris is no linger being distributed or the older versions updated. This was a browser that I really liked since it was light aand ran quick on my imate KJam. Its ironic that imate has also shut down their operations and now only the brand remains. I had tried Opera Mobile earlier but earlier releases did not launch as fast as Iris and certainly did not run as quickly as Iris on my WM5 device. Having seen the swift development of other mobile browsers and the discontinuation of the Iris browser prompted me to try Opera Mobile once again. This time, I was quite surprised, after a small initial hiccup.
I installed the latest beta release (9.7) and started it up for the first time. It didn’t start. Thats quite alright with me. With the KJam some of the more recent applications sometimes do not launch the first time generally owing to low memory or the relatively slow processor. In fact I generally overclock the OMAP 195 to about 300mhz when I try new applications. After a quick reboot, I ran Opera again. It started up and showed me a much cleaner interface than the last time that I used it almost a year ago.
The interface is definitely a lot slicker and more polished than Iris. The address bar, search bar and the dialogue boxes are all very nice to look at. The browsing itself is also fast. I have now used the browser both on my GPRS connection and also with Wifi. I am quite happy with this release and am quite certain that I will be using it going forward. Opera is definitely better than Iris and a lot better than Skyfire which is just bloatware. However I will look at that later, maybe.
The other really nice thing to have are the Opera Widgets. This is something that I used to spend a lot of my free time on even in the desktop version. It is loads of fun and the widgets available are both for entertainment and information. I have spent a lot of time playing Ninja Ropes and the Daily Crossword on the desktop Opera browser. I am really excited to try more of the widgets on the mobile platform.
To go through the main features of Opera Mobile 9.7, I have the always popular screenshots from my imate KJam.
The main page with and without the address bar and the navigation buttons. The text renders very well
Reading is very non-stressful and the text on the pages is very clear and zooming and panning is also effortless
The settings menu has a nice clean interface and all the options are easily configurable
The context menus are intuitive and the option of opening a link in a new tab is something that I missed in Iris
Tabs can be selected from the navigation bar at the bottom and the search option is available when you select the address bar
Opera widgets are something that I really liked even in the desktop version and you have the same feature available on the mobile platform as a seperate application. Loads of fun in my opinion, and all delivered through the browser
Just as examples, the Facebook and Twitter widgets. They werent as fast as I hoped that they would be. In fact the mobile sites of both these services work a lot faster directly in the browser