Android will see a new challenger in the browser space soon with the upcoming release of Opera Ice.
You may be familiar with Opera Mini, the browser that utilizes the company’s Presto Engine, pushing all content through a server optimizing mobile websites for users. Although not abandoning Opera Mini entirely, chief executive Lars Boilesen acknowledged in a sneak-peak video on Pocket-lint that Mini isn’t a “fully-fledged offering” like competitor mobile browsers since it still doesn’t work properly with many websites.
But Boilesen sees a problem with the current major players in the mobile browser scene, “Most are taking a PC browser and squishing [it] into a tablet, or they are taking a mobile browser and blowing it up to fill the space.” Boilesen thinks his company can do better with Opera Ice.
The company has decided to focus on a rethought browsing experience with WebKit, the same framework used by Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari. You may be wondering what Opera has in store to make users want to give their new browser a try. Well, to start with, the browser is doing away with almost all buttons, tabs, or menus. Ice will employ a mainly gesture-based experience.
So how does this work? Ice will make use of a home screen where buttons that lead to websites are displayed. When on a site, tapping a small icon at the bottom of the screen will return you to your homescreen. The web page you were on will turn into an icon that you can then touch to resume viewing or drag to add to your collection of web page icons. There will be no back and forward navigation buttons, but instead require users to swipe left and right.
Search on Ice is also going to work a bit differently as well. Instead of users choosing one search service to use, when searching for a term, Ice will gather a bunch of different engines and display information from several services, like Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Bing, etc..
Opera will be officially announcing the mobile browser next month at Mobile World Congress. Look for an official release on Play in February along with an updated desktop browser in March.
Check out Boilesen’s presentation below to get more info about how Opera Ice works.