All posts tagged ‘Opera Mobile’

Mobile Browsers Help Users Avoid Bloated Webpages

Stop feeding your website donuts. Image: D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr.

Websites are getting fatter, dramatically fatter, with the average page size of sites tracked by the HTTPArchive now nearly 1.3 MB. If the current rate of page size increase continues, that number will reach 2MB sometime early next year.

That’s bad for pretty much everyone, but doubly so for mobile users with constrained bandwidth.

Fortunately for mobile users, the network increasingly seems to see large page sizes as damage to route around.

Services like Instapaper, Pocket or Safari’s Reader have long offered an easy way to strip out extraneous content. Now mobile web browsers are increasingly taking it upon themselves to speed up the bloated web.

The recently unveiled WebKit-based Opera Mobile borrows Opera Mini’s proxy-based Turbo Mode, or “Off Road” mode as it’s known now. Once only deemed necessary for feature phones (Opera Mini’s primary market) proxy-based browsing will soon be available in all Opera browsers.

Google’s Chrome for Android browser is getting ready to follow suit.

The beta channel release of Chrome for Android recently introduced an experimental data compression feature which Google says will “yield substantial bandwidth savings.” Chrome’s compression is nowhere near the level of Opera’s, but it does roughly the same thing — puts a proxy server between the user and the bloated site in question and then applies various speed improvements like using the SPDY protocol and compressing images with WebP.

To turn on the compression head to chrome:flags and look for the “enable experimental data compression” option.

Here’s Google’s description of the various optimizations:

For an average web page, over 60% of the transferred bytes are images. The proxy optimizes and transcodes all images to the WebP format, which requires fewer bytes than other popular formats, such as JPEG and PNG. The proxy also performs intelligent compression and minification of HTML, JavaScript and CSS resources, which removes unnecessary whitespace, comments, and other metadata which are not essential to render the page. These optimizations, combined with mandatory gzip compression for all resources, can result in substantial bandwidth savings.

In other words, Google and Opera are doing what web developers ought to be doing but aren’t. Just like developers should have been making reader-friendly pages, but weren’t, so “reader” modes were born.

It works too. In the video embedded below Google’s Pete Le Page shows how Chrome’s new proxy options take a page from The Verge and reduce it from a husky 1.9MB to a still fat, but somewhat better 1.2MB.

Want to make sure the internet doesn’t see your site as damage it needs to route around? Check out developer Brad Frost’s article Prioritizing Performance in Responsive Design, which has a ton of great advice and links, including what I think is the most important thing developers can do: Treat Performance As Design. In other words, if your site isn’t svelte and fast, it’s not well designed no matter how pretty it might look.

[Note: It is not ironic to post about web page bloat on a page that is, arguably, pretty bloated.]

File Under: Browsers, HTML5, Mobile

Opera Updates Opera Mini for iPhone, Opera Mobile for Android

Opera Mini 7 on the iPhone

Opera Software has announced a slew of updates for its various mobile web browsers, including a new Opera Mini for the iPhone and Opera Mobile 12 for Android phones.

Contrary to what many may think, the real race in mobile web browsers is not between Mobile Safari and Android’s web browser, but between Mobile Safari and Opera Mobile/Mini. As we’ve mentioned before, actual mobile traffic data puts Opera just a touch ahead of Mobile Safari in the race for most-used mobile web browser.

To get the latest version of Opera Mini for the iPhone, head to the Apple App Store. The Android version of Opera Mobile 12 is available in the Android Market Place. If you’re using another platform, or have a feature phone, head to m.opera.com to download the latest release for your phone.

The latest release of the iPhone variant of Opera Mini adds several useful new features, including support for more than nine items on the Speed Dial page, support for the iPhone’s native dictionary and improved traffic compression on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Other changes include fixing a bug that prevented session restore from working properly when your battery died. For full details on everything that’s new in Opera Mini 7 for iOS, check out the release notes.

There’s also a new preview version of Opera Mini available, with support for what Opera calls “Smart Page.” Smart Page takes the idea of Opera’s Speed Dial — the “new tab” screen with your favorite sites just a click away, which has since made its way into all the major desktop browsers — and applies it to the social web. Smart Page gives feature phone users one-click access to social networks and news sites like Twitter and Facebook. For now Smart Page is only available on the feature phone version of Opera Mini Next, though the company plans to eventually include it on other phones as well.

If you’d like to take Opera Mini Next for a spin on older feature phones, point your phone to m.opera.com/next. Keep in mind that this a preview release and there may be bugs.

In addition to Opera Mini and Opera Mini Next, Opera has also released Opera Mobile 12 for Android, Symbian and other mobile platforms. This release brings WebGL support to Opera Mobile 12 on Android, which means better support for 3D and other complex web graphics. Opera’s new HTML5 parser — which we looked at in our review of Opera 11.60 for the desktop — is also included in Opera Mobile 12.

Other new features include support for the Media Capture API, which means websites can access your phone’s camera, and more options for customizing the Speed Dial (including the same increased number of Speed Dial items found in the other releases).

File Under: Browsers

Opera’s Next Act: Add-ons, Hardware Acceleration, Android

Opera Software has announced that the next version of its desktop web browser, Opera 11, will include support for hardware acceleration and browser extensions. The company also has plans to port its popular Opera Mobile browser to Android phones.

It’s the next version of Opera for the desktop that will see the most enhancements. The first Opera 11 alpha will be available soon, but the company already showcased the new extensions framework in a demo at its Up North Web event in Oslo, Norway. Opera’s new extensions framework is much like those pioneered by Chrome and Firefox, and later by Safari — using HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create lightweight add-ons.

When Safari jumped on the bandwagon and offered extensions earlier this year, Opera was the last browser that did not have a system in place for third-party add-ons. While Opera has long been a major source of browser innovation — it was the first browser to offer tabbed browsing, visual tab navigation, mouse gestures, SVG graphics and page zooming, all since copied by other browsers — add-ons were one place Opera trailed the browser pack. But not any more.

Opera’s extensions will be based on the W3C Widget specification (which defines a “widget” as a downloadable and locally stored web application) and, according to the company, it should be relatively easy to port existing Chrome and Safari extensions to Opera’s platform.

Also coming in Opera 11 is hardware acceleration. Hardware acceleration allows the browser to offload intensive tasks like image scaling, rendering complex text or displaying scripted animations to your PC’s graphics card. It has the benefit of freeing up the PC’s main processor and speeding up page load times.

Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome will all add varying degrees of hardware acceleration to their next versions, and with Opera joining in, that means only Apple’s Safari will be missing GPU capabilities.

Opera’s hardware acceleration won’t be limited to the desktop version of Opera either. The company has announced plans to build Opera Mobile for Android. The mobile version of Opera is a full-fledged web browser (unlike Opera Mini, which is available for the iPhone and countless other mobile devices) and will feature hardware acceleration and pinch-to-zoom support for Android.

Opera hasn’t set a date for the release of either Opera 11 or Opera Mobile for Android, though the company did say the latter will available within a month.

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