It's finally available ; I'm currently testing it. I'll post more about it later in the day. Mucho congrats to all our friends at Opera !


So it's finally over. Another browser, not based on WebKit, is available for the iPhone. Yes, I am perfectly aware of the fact it's not a "browser" but a only a rendering engine for a server-side browser. But from a user's perspective, it makes strictly no difference : it's another browser.

Still, what Opera just achieved is an important milestone for the iPhone because, as I just said above, it's a browser from a user's point of view. Let's suppose you have no idea on how a browser works, the fact browsing can be done server-side is totally out of your understanding, then Opera Mini for the iPhone is a browser. Just like Safari. If you consider that fact, refusing in the App Store another browser based on a real client-side rendering engine should be now harder for Apple. But Apple is Apple, id est a company that rather strictly controls your telephone. Granted, Google is even more evil with what you do on a Nexus One since everything is done using your google id, but there's almost no restriction on what you can do with or can put on the phone you own.

As a browser, Opera Mini for the iPhone is an excellent experience I must say. Really really fast. Much faster than Safari. Loading a page from Le Monde's web site is now faster on my iPhone than on my MacBookPro using same internet connectivity !!! Scrolling and zoom are fast too, but a little bit different from Safari's. Zooming and unzooming can behave strangely if you're using your left hand to do it instead of the right one (minor issue, really, I'm sure it will be fixed). Opera is localized in french on my phone. Sites implementing CSS Media Queries work like a charm (yay !). Only the UI can be a bit disruptive: the Settings panel for instance does not follow the iPhone UI rules.

Overall, wow. I think Opera Mini for the iPhone is the live proof that Apple constraints on what can live inside your own iPhone are counter-productive. The ban on browsers and third-party programming languages is pure non-sense at too many levels.

Congrats Opera !!! Well done !