updated 09:35 am EST, Tue February 28, 2012
Browser brings optimizations for feature phones
Opera brought its latest mobile browsers to Mobile World Congress, including Opera Mobile 12 and the Opera Mini Next beta that serves as a preview for what the company is working to add in the future. We were able to take a look at both editions running on Android devices and a feature phone, with new optimizations geared for both device categories.
The Android version brings only slight outward differences from the current Opera Mini 12 release that arrived on Monday. The Speed Dial shortcut interface has been slightly tweaked, enabling users to add an unlimited number of shortcuts. We found the interface changes to be marginal but headed in the right direction, while the under-the-hood performance improvements are also beneficial to the experience.
Opera Mobile Next for feature phones brings even more changes, adding a new Smart Page that aggregates social networking feeds. We tried out the feature on a Nokia phone, and it was surprisingly smooth for the simple hardware and basic browser. The browser may be significant only in a limited number of markets where smartphones are prohibitively expensive, but it does bring a significant leap in the social experience for phones that have not been directly optimized for Facebook and Twitter. Users can avoid the time-consuming and cumbersome process of manually logging into each separate site on the mobile browser.
Opera Mobile 12 has been finalized and released for a number of different platforms. The update brings WebGL support for Android phones, along with improvements to HTML5 support and camera use from the browser. Users can also now customize the Speed Dial, adding and rearranging as many dials as needed.
We tried out Mobile 12 on an Android phone, running it through a few WebGL tests that are available on the Khronos Group site. Performance on a single-core phone was a bit choppy for certain tests, though the demos are designed for desktop computers. We expect the WebGL feature to be particularly significant for the latest dual- and quad-core handsets.
We were generally impressed with Opera's latest software, as the company continues to add features for the entire range of mobile devices.