Beyond Opera Mini

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{…Today the mobile web is almost synonymous with Opera Mini. That however does not make it the best mobile browser out there. In fact with social media today being “the way of the web” other technologies that are built around social media might be the way of the future…}

Before Opera Mini, mobile browsing was way uncomfortable since we had to rely on the default phone browser. Using the default browser you find that pages are too large for the screen, and the data extensivity makes it very expensive. Hell, sometimes the process is too slow it times out and the page completely refuses to load. And for high traffic sites without local mirrors like yahoo, despite having a lighter mobile version of their site, its impossible to get beyond the log in page.

Opera Mini changed that. By optimizing web pages for the phone it made surfing faster, browsing easy and it completely slashed browsing costs. It changed the way we interact with the web on our phones. And because of it, you can almost entirely rely on your phone for normal surfing needs. Today the mobile web is almost synonymous with Opera Mini. That however does not make it the best mobile browser out there. In fact with social media today being “the way of the web” other technologies that are built around it might be the way of the future.

Opera Mini 4.2 is currently the most widely popular stable version of the application. But if you use it enough times, you will realize it has to reinstall every other time you open it. Well, this probably has to do with the amount of memory it can handle, or the way it is terminated. Apparently, the problem can be dealt with by clearing history and using the exit button to terminate it. Besides that, Opera Mini4.2 has other bugs. But once it starts reinstalling, you have to delete it and download it afresh.

Opera Mini 5 beta 2 is the latest release. It is a great improvement to 4.2. It comes with new stunning features but with a shit-load of bugs. Opera Mini 5 beta 2 has the following prominent features: download manager, multiple tabs, speed dial, copy pasting and so much more. But then again youd need a decent phone with good RAM to try it out. Its also so much slower than 4.2 and worst of all, it does not support QWERTY keyboards unless on a Blackberry. Dont get me started on battery consumption.

Well, what are the possible alternatives to Opera Mini?

UCweb
If ever wanted a browser that comes with almost all the settings you ever thought they should add on Opera Mini then you need to try the UCweb browser. UCweb has the following prominent features: – Multiple windows similar to the tabs in Opera Mini 5.2
– Download manager
– Boomarking with folders
– Offline skins
– Data transferred stats.
– Copy pasting
– File attributes: name, location, size, date modified, readability, writability, hidden or not
– You can set the maximum size a page can load: this is very useful since some times while using opera mini, you might find yourself opening pages as big as 300kb. Unless you are on an unlimited data plan, this becomes really annoying.

You are probably wondering why UCweb hasnt become mainstream, with all the cool features it boasts. UCweb was created by a Chinese company for a Chinese clientele in Chinese. The English versions are created by third party developers. It can be a headache to use at times. Some of the text is not translated. Instead you see block symbols. To make it worse, some pages completely fail to open, instead you are directed a Google china search results in Chinese. When all is said and done, UCweb is the fastest mobile browser Ive ever used.

Snaptu
Snaptu is built mainly with social media in mind. It uses socket connection to connect to the internet unlike Opera Mini that uses both socket and HTTP. It is a lite application, never overheats your system but you will still need a decent phone to run it.
Snaptu is a cloud computing product. If you are looking for the best tweeting experience, face booking, news sharing, and photo sharing then this is it. It is the ultimate mobile social media application. You can add any blog RSS feed URL to get you daily read.
It also comes with other applications like Live Scores, Accuweather, Picasa, Flickr, Dictionary and more.

However, am still waiting on them to add location apps like foursquare. Perhaps they should also open their API so that third party developers can add applications. That way, Snaptu will probably overtake Opera Mini. There are some things that are still impossible to do on Snaptu. For example uploading, downloading photos without the default browser and viewing non RSS feed pages. The moment they make such possible, people will find very little use for Opera Mini.

Minuet Browser
Minuet browser is a very interesting browser. It is a standalone HTML browser. Unlike Opera Mini and UCweb, it does not use a server side proxy to access the internet. In fact if you are logged on to a website using the default browser, Minuet browser uses the same cookies to log you in.
Minuet browser loads pages as they are. That means it is very expensive. However you can deactivate pictures to reduce the cost. And whats more, you can load a specific picture if you want to view it instead of reloading the whole page. Besides, version 3.1.3 adds data compression thus reducing data traffic.
You will also notice that minuet browser saves pages as .html, .php, .xml etc instead of the .obml in Opera Mini. That means you can use the pages offline, on a computer.

Bolt
Now the moment you try out this browser for the first time, you will probably want to stick to it for all the good reasons. It has very flashy buttons and a pleasant homepage that makes the whole experience retaining.
Bolt renders pages a little differently from Opera Mini with sharper texts and photos and all the time bypassing browser detection functions thus loading a page as is without redirecting to the mobile version.
It includes a video manager that selects the best of three delivery mechanisms for streaming video on your device, including triggering your media player if the phone isnt well equipped for playback.
The browser has support for XML, ATOM and RDF formats of RSS feeds and support for Javascript and Ajax. Bolt also claims to consume one-third of the battery power of other mobile browsers
As the name suggests, this is an above average speedy browser. They probably achieve this by the 23:1 over-the-air data reduction that they claim. I dont know if this is true because I still find it expensive to use.

Firefox Mobile
Those so far are the mobile browsers Ive extensively tested. The real bomb however, a platform Ive not had a chance to use, is the Firefox mobile
Thats right. Firefox is working on a Mozilla browser for mobile. So far it can only run on the Maemo platform in N900 and N810
The most striking feature is that developers can create add-ons in HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. Other features include – syncing the desktop history, bookmarks passwords and open tabs to your mobile,
– a friendly touch interface> You can access your tabs and browser controls with the swipe of your finger. – Location aware: Access to maps and info relevant to your location.

As you can see, there are many mobile browsing options out there. Not surprising at all. According to research done by some American IT firm, mobile web users will outnumber PC web users by 2015. There is every reason for companies to compete for this market. Opera Mini however still remains the favorite because of the early entry into the market and the reliability of its browsers. But we are yet to know who the winner will be as more companies aim higher and social media takes shape in the web industry.

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