AUSTIN, Texas — Opera Software has a version of its Mini browser prepped and ready for the iPhone. Opera Mini 5 for the iPhone will be available in the App Store in a matter of weeks, but the company is demoing a beta version of the tiny mobile browser here at South by Southwest Interactive.
We got to see a live demo of the app in action, but we weren’t allowed to photograph it due to the company’s agreement with Apple. The screenshot at left is all that’s been approved for distribution.
Opera Mini 5 has the same features as all other implementations of Opera Mini for other mobiles. It syncs history and preferences data (like Speed Dial), it has a customizable search field, and it can discover and subscribe to RSS feeds. It also has an elegant tab switcher that lets you browse your open tabs like you’re shuffling a stack of cards.
All versions of Opera Mini use proxy servers to squish pages and images before they’re delivered to your phone, greatly speeding up page loads over slower connections. Opera claims a 90% compression rate, which is impressive, but the trade off is that you lose one of the iPhone’s special features. There’s no multi-touch on the iPhone version of Opera Mini. You can double-tap to zoom, but not pinch to zoom. Even so, it’s nice to have the option to load an alternative browser onto the iPhone, which right now only has Mobile Safari.
Look for it in the App Store some time in the next few weeks. An Android version was recently released as well. Try it out at Opera’s site.