Social goes big on Opera Mini
Advanced social-networking tools arrive in a new preview build of Opera's most popular browser, while its full-featured sibling Opera Mobile powers up with WebGL.
BARCELONA, Spain--The maker of the second-most popular mobile browser in the world has given its feature-phone fans something to tweet about, as Opera Mini Next debuted and brought several smartphone features to "dumb" phones.The big new feature that's kicking off the inaugural build of Opera Mini Next, the developer's preview of the browser, is "smart" page called Home. Home will live next to Opera's Speed Dial, its customizable collection of regularly visited Web sites that occupies top billing across all Opera browsers, and it serves a similar function. It will let you bookmark regularly visited, regularly updated sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail, so that you can quickly check for updates without having to load the site in full. In an interview last week, Phillip Gronvold, Opera's product manager for mobile, said that because of the Turbo feature's data compression the automatic updates only cost 1 KB of data per update. The feature is on by default but can be turned off in the browser's settings. He also clarified that Turbo works slightly differently on different versions of Opera. On Opera Mini, which has more than 160 million users worldwide, can compress Web traffic up to 90 percent. That compression, Gronvold said, can come at a high cost sometimes: occasionally, a site will break. Opera Mobile and Opera for PCs use a slightly different compression methodology that doesn't compress the data quite as much, he explained, but it also doesn't bork sites. Those huge bandwidth savings are must for many people on rate-limited plans. Gronvold also said that despite the in-development designation, he expected most people who installed Opera Mini Next to find it to be stable. "It's not fully ready because we haven't finished yet setting up local content in all the different markets," he said. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test out Opera Mini Next before this story was written.