Venerable Norwegian browser maker Opera have just released a new product aimed at mobile users - Opera Mini. Whilst most recent smartphones (like my Nokia N70) generally ship with Opera Mobile installed, users will generally need an ‘all you can eat’ data plan in order to properly browse the internet.
Whilst Opera Mobile is a fully fledged browser with built-in page scaling functionality (called ‘Small Screen Rendering’), Opera Mini differs by hooking into Opera’s central servers and offloading all of the processing work usually required to be undertaken on your handset to convert and downscale a website to view on your mobile device. Not only does this cut the processing overheads, it also means that less data needs to travel across the network thus reducing download times, making browsing the internet via a WAP access point possible; whilst also reducing the incredible cost of packet data via mobile networks, making browsing via WAP almost affordable.
Although I’ve only had Opera Mini installed for a couple of hours, I used to use what I believe was the lead up beta-version of Opera Mini last year on my old Nokia 6600, via a service they called Opera Mobile Accelerator. This service, now discontinued, allowed me to connect my Opera Mobile browser to what I believe is the same service now in full-release as Opera Mini.
If you’re like me and are on a WAP or otherwise data-crippled pre-paid phone plan (even though I’m attached to a 3G network, ugh), Opera Mini is a godsend. Opera Mini can be downloaded by pointing your mobile to http://mini.opera.com/