Opera to reveal alternative iPhone browser next week

Opera Software plans to demo a version of its Opera Mini browser for the iPhone at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona next week. Opera Mini will offer faster browsing than the Safari browser built into the iPhone, Opera said Wednesday.

Internal testing shows that Opera Mini will be up to six times faster than Apple’s Safari browser, according to Katrin Jaakson, communications manager at Opera. The increased speed is in large part down to the browser’s use of a proxy server to compress and reformat web pages before they are transmitted to the phone. Using compression also helps consume less data, which is a good thing when you are abroad and mobile data costs more, she said.

Other features Opera hopes will attract iPhone owners are support for tabs and speed dial, a feature that provides direct access to favorites via thumbnail images on the start page.

Opera hasn’t yet submitted the browser for approval by Apple, and won’t say when it will. However, the company is convinced that the application will be approved, according to Jaakson.

Not everyone is as confident, though.

“I think it is highly unlikely that Opera Mini will be approved,“ said Paolo Pescatore, analyst at CCS Insight. Apple’s policy is quite clear, according to Pescatore: it won’t approve applications that duplicate a feature already offered by the iPhone’s software. However, many third-party browsers are already available on the App Store.

Besides Opera Mini for iPhone, Opera will also demo beta versions of Opera Mobile 10 on Symbian S60, Windows Mobile and Android at the Barcelona show.

Mobile World Congress runs from Feb. 15 to 18 at the Fira showground in Barcelona.

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