Wowser! Opera Software released a second Beta of both Opera Mobile 10 and Opera Mini 5 today. I really didn’t expect a new release until after the holidays. I’ve been playing with the new versions for about an hour now and I like what I see. Here are my impressions.
The big changes are the addition of some of the most requested features that were missing from the first Beta
- Opera Link which synchronizes bookmarks, speed dial shortcuts and custom search shortcuts between multiple copies of Opera Mini, Mobile and Desktop.
- A Download Manager that lets you download in the background and view a list of completed and in process downloads with options to Pause, Open, Delete or Clear any of the downloads.
- Pressing # or * now brings up a list of available shortcuts as it does in Opera Mini 3.1 and 4.2. And there is a “Cancel” option now that lets you escape from accidental presses of # and *.
- You can switch from inline to full-screen editing on a field by field basis without going into the settings menu. When you are in an edit field in inline mode a long press on the “OK” button (or screen on touchscreen phones) brings up a context menu (image, bottom right) with the “Fullscreen Edit” option. Both input methods have their advantages. With Inline mode you can see the rest of the screen – especially handy when entering Captchas. Fullscreen editing enables t-9 and symbol mode and allows copy and pasting to and from the system clipboard.
- On touchscreen devices, the virtual keyboard now offers an “Enter” key when editing multi-line fields (image, bottom left).
I suspect that there are a lot of bug fixes in the new releases as well. I noticed a couple in Opera Mobile 10.
- Opening Google Groups or vBulletin sites like HowardForums in mobile view no longer causes Opera Mobile 10 to hang. However switching from mobile to desktop view in Google Groups now crashes Opera Mobile 10 on my Nokia N95-3.
- Opera Mobile 10 seems to shut down more cleanly. When I exited Beta 1 the Opera Mobile process would appear keep running in the Task manager for a minute or two and attempting to restart Opera while it was in that state would fail. I’m able to close and immediately reopen Beta 2.
Opera 10’s memory footprint is noticeably smaller in Beta 2. I repeated the memory tests that I ran on Beta 1 with new release. Results are summarized in the table below. The first number represents the amount of free memory on the device after loading the browser and each of 3 large pages in separate tabs. The second number is the amount of memory consumed by the browser at that point. While Opera still uses a lot of memory and will probably never work very well on phones with very limited memory like the original N95-1, it’s really no worse in memory consumption than the Nokia Webkit browser when browsing large pages.
|Opera Mobile 10 Beta 1||Opera Mobile 10 Beta 2||Nokia Browser|
|GoMo News 2.3 MB||56/37||72/21||71/21|
|BBC Homepage 455 KB||52/41||67/26||65/28 *|
|Wikipedia USA 1.7 MB||38/55||50/43||43/50|
* The Nokia Browser was unable to display the BBC homepage, only showing the top header.
The new Beta is a huge step forward. Opera Link and easy switching between inline and full-screen editing are two things I really missed in the first Beta. But I still have a short wish list of items that I hope to see fixed or changed in the final release of both browsers. Most of these are features that were present in previous Opera Mini versions but are missing in Mobile 10 and Mini 5
- Fix Mobile View so that it works properly on all pages. The Mobile View setting still seems to be ignored and horizontal scrolling is necessary on many pages including Yelp.com, all Blogger sites and dabr.co.uk.
- I’d really like to see an option to open a link in a new tab in the background without switching to that tab.
- Bring back the shortcut (#3 in Mini 3 and 4) to jump to the top and bottom of long pages.
- Make scrolling in Mobile View on non-touch devices work like it does in Opera Mini 4.2 where left and right keys scroll up and down a page at a time and the up and down keys jump between links. The fussy mouse cursor adds no value and makes it unnecessary difficult to click links and check-boxes.
- Bring back all the options that were in the “1” key context menu in Min 4.2; especially the mobile view toggle, and the “link information” option.
- Support for more devices would be nice. Of the three phones I currently use only one, a Nokia N95-3, can run Opera Mini 5 Beta 2. The others, a new but low end Motorola i776 and an old but relatively powerful BlackBerry 7100i both work very well with Opera Mini 4.2 but fail to install the new version. I’m not a Windows Mobile user but I know a lot of you would like to see Opera Mobile 10 running on Windows Mobile Standard (non-touch) devices which are still being manufactured and seem quite popular.
Read more about the new features in Opera Mini 4 Beta 2 at: www.opera.com/mini/next/
For Opera Mobile Mobile 10 Beta 2 visit: www.opera.com/mobile/
To download either version directly to your phone go to: m.opera.com/next/