Best iPad App for Browsing the Web (other than Safari!) – Opera Mini
The Opera web browser has a bit of a cult following on the web. Opera is known as one of the more stable, and usually one of the fastest browsers available for the PC. While Opera’s popularity as a desktop browser was modest, its mobile browser is clearly a market leader. As former Blackberry adopters know, Opera Mini was the one app that made browsing manageable. Opera Mini is slimmer version of the two mobile opera browsers, and currently the only Opera version available for the iPad. Those who are not satisfied with Safari as a browser, should strongly try out Opera Mini for iPad.
Much like Safari, Opera offers tabbed browsing. One of the reasons I switched over to Opera instead of Safari is how much quicker it was to go from one tab to the next. Safari brings up an entire new screen to switch tabs. Opera Mini’s tabbed browsing is far more elegant in usability and design. To the immediate left of the address bar on Opera, you will see the tabbed browsing icon. The icon looks like 2 sheets of paper, one laid on top of the other. What’s great about this icon is that it will tell you how many tabs you have opened in the Opera browser. For example, if there is a number 3 on top of main sheet of paper, that means you have 3 tabs currently opened. Once you tap on the tabbed browser icon, a drop down menu roughly 1/5 the vertical height of iPad screen appears, overlaying your current page appears. You now see a small screenshot of every page you have opened with a blank grey page with a “+”. Simply click the grey “+” to open a new black page. Tabbed pages are navigated by simply flicking a page either to the left, or right, to bring up a new tabbed screenshot. Tap on the tab you want to bring it up in your browser screen. If you want to close a tab, simply exit out by tapping the familiar “x” icon on the upper right hand corner of each tab.
Speed Dial – Speed Dial is a feature lacking on Safari for iPad. Opera Mini Speed dial allows you to have up to 9 websites saved as large buttons. The speed dial is quickly accessed through the tabbed screen icon as well as the Opera icon drop down menu.
Long-click menus – To enhance navigability, you can press and hold to bring down an Opera long click menu. This is similar to right click on a desktop browser, allow much more power and flexibility in web navigation.
Passwords – Opera saves your username and passwords for your favorite sites.
Flash – Opera developed two mobile browsers. Opera Mini does not support flash, but Opera Mobile does. However, Opera can only support what the iPad allows. Since Apple will not allow a flash plug-in to be installed on the iPad, Opera will not develop a browser for the iPad with a flash player.
Opera Link – You can synchronize your bookmarks and Speed Dial across your mobile phone and desktop or laptop, Opera browsers.