Opera Mobile for Android Updated

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There's a new version of Opera Mobile available in the Android Market and from Opera's download page. It's dubbed Opera Mobile 11.1 update 2 and according to a changelog posted on the Opera Mobile Blog it includes the following updates and fixes:

  • Added support for Honeycomb large screen compatibility mode
  • Added support for font styles on Samsung Galaxy devices
  • Fix for problem with text disappearing in text fields
  • Fix for HTML5 <audio> tag auto-play
  • Fix for mismatched RGB colors on some devices
  • Fix for black screen when starting Opera Mobile on some devices
  • Fix for various stability issues on certain devices
  • Fix for various font issues on certain devices
  • Security update fix (see below)
  • Permissions: See bit.ly/opera_permissions

Security Update Fix:
This update contains a fix for a security issue, with thanks for Roee Hay of IBM Rational Application Security Research Group for reporting it to us; Apps on Android are supposed to be isolated, so that in general, they cannot access files belonging to other apps. This is a security feature of Android that is intended to provide some level of protection against malicious apps, preventing them from being able to modify the behavior of other apps. Before this release, Opera created cache files with permissions that were not restrictive enough. This allowed other installed apps to read and modify Opera's cache files, potentially gaining access to sensitive information, or performing cross site scripting against target sites.

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I tried the latest Opera Mobile on the only Android phone I had at hand, an old HTC Magic running Android 2.2. Opera ran pretty well, which is no small feat given that phone's slow processer and very limited RAM (about 30 MB free RAM at startup).  Because the built-in browser is so good, there's less need for Opera on Android than on Symbian. But even on Android, Opera has some unique advantages including:

  • Opera Link which syncronizes your browser bookmarks betwen multiple instances of Opera om mobile and desktop.
  • The ability to switch between a mobile or desktop user agent, which is a life saver for those sites, that insist on showing a broken page or excessively dumbed down page to mobile browser. The Android browser has a similar option on some devices but not others like the Magic. The user agents are:

Opera/9.80 (Android 2.2.1; Linux; Opera Mobi/ADR-1109081720; U; en) Presto/2.8.149 Version/11.10

Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux zbov; U; en) Presto/2.8.149 Version/11.10

  • You can save the current page as a standard .mhtml file for offline viewing in Opera Mobile. Saved pages are stored in the \download directory on the sd card and can also be viewed with desktop browsers including Opera, IE and Chrome.
  • An exit button. Google claims that an exit button is unnecessary  in Android and discourages developers from providing one. But many users like to be able to shut down apps to free resourses. Opera's exit button is hidden by default but can be enabled in the Advanced settings menu.

Opera Mobile is a great alternative non-WebKit based browser on Symbian and Android. It has excellent JavaScript and rendering performance and HTML5 support.
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