After debuting on iPads in 2013, Opera Software's Coast browser is now available for iPhones as well.
The Norwegian company sees Coast as a fresh start, an browser designed to give those using Apple's iOS mobile operating system a cleaner user interface and features to help people with some time to kill when out and about. Now with the iPhone version, Opera said Coast is thumb-friendly, too.
"Getting an iPhone version is the first thing that people ask us," said Huib Kleinhout, Coast's creator. "I believe it will be used more on iPhone than on iPad because there are more iPhones."
That could help Opera, which derives revenue from search ads people see when the browser uses Google or other search engines to fulfill their search requests. Opera has been a leader in mobile browsing, but faces major competitive pressure in the mobile browser market from Apple's Safari and the browsers Google offers for its Android operating system.
According to StatCounter's analytics software, Opera browsers account for 13 percent of mobile Web usage, with Google's Chrome just surpassing it at 14 percent. Safari for iPhone accounts for 22 percent, and Google's unbranded Android browser is at 26 percent right now.
Opera has remained a browser underdog since the 1990s but has made dramatic changes in recent years. First, its business increasingly is delivering mobile ads through its AdMarvel network, and second, it scrapped its own Presto browser engine in favor of the open-source Blink engine that powers Google's Chrome. Despite being the fifth-place PC browser and seeing major new mobile competition, the company has kept its business mostly healthy.
Coast relies on gestures for much of its interface, which means only two buttons occlude the view of an open Web page, Opera said.
Coast for iPhone, like Opera Mini and Opera's other browsers, includes a version of the Speed Dial grid of icons to quickly get to frequently used websites. People also can set the wallpaper behind the grid, follow Opera's suggestions of interesting sites to visit, sync settings with Coast for iPad, and autocomplete Web addresses for faster navigation.