It’s fair to say since the introduction of the iPhone, mobile Safari has had a tough time with users. From the intermittent crashing issues back on firmware 1.1.3 to lack of caching of pages in tab view, people quickly felt that they needed a replacement, one which would more over mirror that of their desktop browser on their Mac or PC. Up until now though, these replacement browsers, on the iPhone at least, have come in the form of existing independent developers looking to make the odd quick buck trying to flog different overall browsing experiences to the App Store crowd. Whether this be by promising to offer up that “full-screen” browsing experience everyone seems to crave, or simply by adding the features mobile Safari currently lacks, like for example, page bookmarks in the form of icons themselves, offering the ability to clear previous browsing history on closing the application, or simply by claiming to offer more web viewing space.
Although these developers have provided a slurry of alternatives, we haven’t yet really to see a major “browser” player target the iPhone. Sure there were talks about Mozilla brings Firefox, but as of yet, these wide-spread rumors have been both highly unsubstantiated and have (so far) proven to be false. As part of the 2010 Mobile World Congress taking place next week, Norwegian based software development company Opera, creators of the Opera web browser available on a bunch of platforms worldwide today, have announced that they are set to show off a working version of their Opera Mini browser for multiple platforms and handsets, including that of the iPhone. This is huge. But, on this same level, don’t get too excited just yet. As I’m sure you’re all aware by now Apple’s App Store approval process is far from a walk in the park for developers. In fact, remember the rejection of Google Voice? .. This was due to a small App Store policy which stated:
“Applications which are deemed by Apple to duplicate existing functionality of the iPhone, may be rejected without reason or notice.”
Now, I don’t know about you but I can see at least 6 apps in that screenshot above alone, which violates this policy, yet those apps are still on the store and available for purchase (presumably) with Apple’s full knowledge. So, it’s pretty clear there are now exceptions regarding this. It’s worth noting though that even Opera themselves aren’t putting all their faith in Apple’s App Store submission process just yet, stating that Opera Mini won’t be publicly available next week, they’ll just be showing off a rough demo which will demonstrate to both the press and various industry types, what the browser will or could potentially look like on the iPhone.
Could Opera provide the future alternative to browsing on the iPhone, and more importantly the iPad?