The browser wars have long been waged, leaving behind casualties like Netscape. With the emergence of mobile devices, this fight has been given a new battlefield. Apple and Google have been consistently trying to outplay each other, providing ways for users to seamlessly bring their browsing activities across all devices. Meanwhile, other players, like Dolphin, are hoping to serve different user demands.
Opera, the company behind the Opera and Opera Mini browser, has just launched a new mobile browser for the iPad called Coast. The project first started off when Huib Kleinhout, an engineer and team manager at Opera, proposed to the president of engineering to build a browser specifically for mobile devices. He believed that browsers brought too much of their desktop legacy to the mobile, from the back and forward buttons to the URL search bar.
Huib comes from a village called Varik, in the Netherlands that has a population of about 2,000. Built a hundred meters from a river, the village had to be evacuated when waters threatened to wipe out the area in 1995. Huib studied at Eindhoven and graduated with a masters in technology and society, a hybrid between social and technical sciences, completing his thesis at Philips Research. His design-focused time at Eindhoven and Philips Research inspired him.
“In this environment, thousands of engineers are working on R&D projects and it was all about inventing new stuff.”
Huib is also a co-inventor of some patents for Philips Research that formed the basis of multi-touch.
At Opera, Huib set out to design a browser for tablets. From the design, Coast looks like a browser designed for a mobile-first user. Using Opera’s and Google’s search, websites are displayed as “apps” instead of just pages.The browser uses the Speed Dial feature, a set of visual bookmarks that provides quick access to favorite websites. The app boasts easy sharing features, be it web links or photos and is highly reliant on gestures to navigate the World Wide Web instead of the usual back and forward buttons. Mobile users will find the whole user experience akin to that of any mobile operating system.
Coast was launched for iPad about two weeks ago and Senior Communications Manager for Asia Pacific, Peko Wan, shared that it hit the top lifestyle app spot for key markets in Southeast Asia such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Will Coast take over the mobile browser space? Huib believes this new approach to mobile Internet browsing is the way forward.
“In Opera, we can make this shit happen.”
Download Coast by Opera for iPad here.