Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Mobile Browsers: Increased innovation?

Category: Browsers, Mobile

Opera Mini made it into the Apple Store yesterday. People weren’t sure if it would make it in (as it duplicates functionality from Apple) but it did. This is good news. From playing with it myself, I feel a little like @gruber but what is more interesting to me is that there is room for innovation on the iPhone platform for browsers.

Firefox Mobile was exciting to me from a “what can a mobile browser do” perspective more than a “I get to use it” due to N900 and WinMo being the first platforms. I was excited to see that Dave Townsend grabbed the webOS PDK and started to play with a port:


The desktop has seen a rich space for innovation of browsing. By contrast we have seen awful browsers on mobile, and only recently have we seen quality on that side of the house. There has been innovation in the touch experience etc, but it feels like there is so much that we could do.

The richer UI of Firefox Mobile, plus Weave support, plus add-on support in general is fantastic.

Opera being smart about downscaling assets is fantastic.

But, there is more to be done, and hopefully we see Firefox on iPhone too!

Oh, and letting me set my own darn cache size would be nice too :)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 11:32 am

3.8 rating from 13 votes


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I’m probably just being paranoid here, but is there any chance that Opera Mini won’t be allowed on 4.0? I mean, it DOES have a JavaScript interpreter right? And it’s not using WebKit, is it? On those two grounds alone I’m surprised it got accepted at all!! I mean hasn’t Apple always disallowed interpreted code being downloaded and executed?

Comment by TooTallNate — April 13, 2010


I believe the JS is running on the server side which should get around the issue.

Comment by Dion Almaer — April 13, 2010

Is that seriously what mobile FF looks like? Terrible.

Comment by okonomiyaki3000 — April 13, 2010

Are you saying that mobile Opera sends all js to a server somewhere to be executed rather than executing in browser? Are you possibly drunk?

Comment by okonomiyaki3000 — April 13, 2010


You can take your foot out of your mouth now.

Comment by doublerebel — April 13, 2010

To some extent, that’s exactly what Opera Mini does. Unlike Opera Mobile, Opera Mini offloads a lot of the processing to an intermediate server:

“Opera Mini requests web pages through the Opera Software company’s servers, which process and compress them before relaying the pages back to the mobile phone. This compression process makes transfer time about two to three times faster, and the pre-processing smooths compatibility with web pages not designed for mobile phones.”

Comment by leonsp — April 13, 2010

As @doublerebel says….. this was Firefox up and running on a few hours work. It isn’t “done” by any measure :)

Comment by Dion Almaer — April 13, 2010

The “render full YUI sites server-side in nodejs” thing from a few days back looks a whole lot like an open source stack example of opera’s “preemptively execute the javascript server-side for crippled clients” pattern:

Comment by rdza — April 13, 2010

Opera Mini can be seen as a “TV”. Instead of downloading the page and the JS etc to the browser, it pre-process the content at a server and sends over “images” with “image maps”…
… “kind of”. Conceptually it explains it relatively OK. This means that there’s no JavaScript executed on the client at all.

Comment by ThomasHansen — April 14, 2010

The security implications for opera mini are no worse than for opera desktop. In both cases you have a bunch of proprietary inscrutable code running between you and your “secure” partner. It all comes down to whether you trust opera or not. Admittedly in the past they’ve had issues with people accidentally seeing other people’s sessions, but if you look around that problem is quite common in the web space (I’ve personally seen it happen with gmail, in the early days).

Comment by Joeri — April 14, 2010

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