updated 12:18 pm EST, Mon January 21, 2013
Moves to WebKit as core, will debut at Mobile World Congress
After 19 years, the alternative browser known as Opera has capitulated and will move to the WebKit core used by most other browsers for their latest mobile offering, known as "Ice." The new browser, which will likely debut for iOS and Android at the upcoming Mobile World Congress next month, features an overhauled design that emphasizes simplicity and gestures over buttons. The Norwegian company will continue to offer its Opera Mini for Android and feature phones, but needed to "up its game" in mobile, reports Pocket-lint.
The new browser will treat bookmarks as app-like icons, but also retains a search and URL bar. In the video demonstration seen below, Opera CEO Lars Boilesen shows off some of the new interface and features and mentions that a new desktop browser version is coming in March. The Opera Ice browser, like all other mobile browsers on both iOS and Android, will use WebKit as its engine -- a change from Opera's Presto rendering engine currently used in the Android version of Opera Mobile, which will likely be retired.
The move to WebKit will enable Opera to compete on a level playing field with other browsers, and further standardize website rendering on mobile devices. The Ice browser is specifically aimed at tablets, and aims to help the company remain relevant in a market that mostly belongs to Mobile Safari (on the iOS platform) and Google's default browser for Android. Alternative browsers for both platforms exist -- including Google's Chrome for both platforms -- are have cultivated small but loyal cadres of users who appreciate the differentiation of specific features.
Boilesen mentioned that the company will also consider a version of the browser for Windows Phone, but will delay development until sales of handsets running that OS pick up. For now, however, efforts will be focused on getting the iOS and Android versions out by the time the Mobile World Congress begins in Barcelona, Spain in late February.