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Opera Coast offers alternate browser for iPhone

Following last year’s iPad release, Coast is now available for the iOS 7, and its design is quite something

Long standing Norwegian company Opera has just released its Coast browser for the iPhone, offering another alternative to the native Safari. Following its release on iPad last year, users were treated to a fresh browser experience, compared to the Chrome and Safari stalwarts.

Opera has designed the browser from the bottom up to sit comfortably within iOS 7 as opposed to trying to produce a browser that desktop users will be familiar with, recognizing that smartphones are now so ubiquitous that a browser that behaves like an app is a much more comfortable experience – and it could go someway to upset the balance in browser proliferation between platforms.

As this CNET report states, Google’s unbranded Android browser gets the most mobile web usage at 26 percent, with Safari at 22 percent. Behind are Opera’s browsers at 13 percent and only slightly ahead, Google Chrome at 14 percent.

The story is of course much different on the desktop, where according to StatCounter, Chrome is running ahead with just under 47 percent, while Opera only manages 1.33%.

Back to the Coast

Opera Coast Screengrab

Coast presents frequently visited sites in a grid formation

The Coast browser uses a grid design, with recommended and frequently used sites making up the patchwork, while swipe gestures are used to navigate. It also acknowledges the increasing archaism in simply inputting a http:// web address. The search and address bar are one and the same, much in the way that typical browsers work, but the priority, and design is purely directed towards search.

On webpages themselves, swipe gestures continue to take charge, allowing webpages to fit in with the functionality of much of the rest of iOS apps and Newsstand content.

Third-party browsers

Opera has remained a niche player since the 1990s and has never really gained much ground when it comes to its desktop browser, but Coast’s arrival on iOS certainly highlights its increasing attention to mobile, and could in fact put them in a better position within a trend that shows no sign of slowing down for the foreseeable future. It’s also worth noting its sync capabilities with Coast for iPad.

Of course, Coast’s very app-like design may not even be entirely down to Opera. Apple doesn’t actually allow third-party browser engines on iOS. Coast had to be built on an Apple-supplied WebKit browser engine – meaning that Coast is all about design.

But when it comes to apps, and mobile friendly functionality – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Opera Coast is available to download for free on the App Store.

App Store Download button