There’s a new Opera Mini release, version 4.1, now available as public beta. Anyone can download it by pointing their phone browser at mini.opera.com/beta. BlackBerry and Palm versions and generic .jad and .jar files for side loading can be downloaded to your PC at www.operamini.com/beta
This release is pretty exciting as it adds a number of new features that users have been requesting on the Opera Mini Forum. The changes include:
- Search for text in the current page. Press #,* or go to Menu > Tools > Options > Find in Page
- URL auto-completion, When typing web address, Opera Mini will suggest completions based on your bookmarks and browser history.
- File download and upload. On supported phones. Opera Mini can browse the phone’s file system and do uploads and downloads. For this to work the phone must support the File connection API in JSR 75. Many recent phones support JSR 75.
- Save pages and off-line browsing: On phones with JSR 75, Opera Mini can save web pages locally and browse saved pages without using the network, great for reading on the subway!
- Signed versions: Opera Mini is now available in several different signed versions. Signing is needed on most phones in order to access the file system with JSR 75. There are three signed versions of the beta; Opera is asking beta testers to try the “Double signed” (it has both Thawte and VeriSign certificates) one first and if that doesn’t work to try the other two signed versions with an unsigned one as a last resort. On some phones and carriers, signing will also enable the “Always Allow” option for network access, eliminating the nagging prompts to allow access every time you start Opera Mini. It probably won’t help much with US carriers though: ATT, T-Mobile and Sprint have all crippled their branded phones to block blanket access to network and/or file system even for applications signed with industry standard VeriSign and Thawte certificates. The only certificates these phones recognize are manufacturer or carrier certificates which are almost impossible for 3rd party developers to obtain.
I’ve loaded the beta on all four of my phones. Installation went smoothly and so far the beta seems stable.
Find in Page works great, You hit #, * and enter your search string, press OK and the first match is highlighted with the soft keys mapped to Next and Stop. Searches wrap around which I like. It’s fast too.
The URL auto completion works a little differently than I expected. When you choose “Enter Address” from the menu or hit #,1 an inline edit box appears containing the current page’s URL. That’s nice if you want to edit that URL. If you want to enter a completely different URL you need to press the right soft key (labeled “Delete”) once to clear the field before moving the cursor. Otherwise you will have to delete the existing address one character at a time.
I had only moderate success with the functions requiring JSR 75. Of my four phones the only one where everything worked was an unbranded Nokia N95-3 which I only tried with the double signed version. Besides enabling the JSR 75 related functions signing also eliminates the prompt asking me to allow Opera Mini to use the network that I used to get every time I launched it.
File upload/download and saving pages did not work on a Sprint Samsung A920 with any of the signed and unsigned versions of the beta. The phone supports JSR 75 plus it’s has been hacked to allow even unsigned applications access to privileged API’s. I really expected it to work. At least the error I got, “String index out of range -6”, isn’t not a security exception. I suspect a bug or incompatibility in the Qualcom JVM is causing the error. Maybe Opera can devise a workaround. Incidentally, Sprint and Openwave have white listed mini.opera.com so it’s not transcoded anymore and the Samsung A920 is recognized properly.
On a unlocked unbranded Motorola Z8 all the signed versions gave the error “Component failed security check. Cannot install. Certificate information could not be understood.” The error message then proceeded to describe in great detail what it could not “understand”, details like “Issued to Opera Software ASA … VeriSign Class 3 Code … effective from 4/2/08 to 4/2/08 …Fingerprint: F1:37:F5…” Why is mobile security so screwed up? Opera is trying to play by the rules and still the phone barfs on the expensive VeriSign and Thawte certificates! The good news is that with the unsigned version everything works although you get nagged multiple times to grant permission every time you save a page or download a file.
A Boost Mobile branded Motorola i855 refused to install any of the signed editions. The unsigned version installed but saving pages and upload/download are not even available in the menus.
Opera Mini just keeps getting better and better. It amazes me that it can work so well on so many different phones. The new features are great. Being able to save pages and off-line browsing are things I’ve wanted for a long time. Find in page will save lots of time I used to spend scrolling back through 200KB of text to find a link or quote. The utility of auto-completion is obvious. Well done, Opera.