Simon Willison’s Weblog


Opera Mini 2.0

11th May 2006

Just as I was getting thoroughly sick of the whole X-2.0 trend along comes a product I can really get excited about. Opera Mini 2.0 is a truly lovely piece of software. It’s a free web browser for your phone, accompanied by a free proxy:

When surfing with Opera Mini, Web pages are optimized and compressed before being sent to your phone. This means that even though your mobile provider may charge you for the data which is transferred to your phone, the amount of data transferred is significantly less than it would normally be, making mobile surfing cheaper.

Most UK mobile data plans are pretty extortionate. I was quoted over £500 a month for an unlimited plan recently; compare that to Leonard Lin who pays $15 a month in the US. Having a compressing proxy is essential.

In stark contrast to the desktop edition the user interface is beautifully simple, relying mostly on the joypad to navigate with a full-screen editor for entering URLs and filling in forms. Opera’s small screen rendering technology is used to linearise the page content while keeping background colours and images intact.

The one feature I’d love to see added is a “reload page with images” menu option. I generally browse with images turned off, and viewing a page with its images requires me to navigate to the settings screen, toggle images on, reload the page and then remember to turn images back off again afterwards.

Opera Mini doesn’t appear to support JavaScript, but despite that nearly all the sites I’ve visited have been perfectly usable. Even Gmail works, thanks to an automatic fallback to their plain-old-HTML interface. With any luck it will become part of the accepted accessibility benchmark—I know I’ll be testing sites with it in the future.

This is Opera Mini 2.0 by Simon Willison, posted on 11th May 2006.

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