Wow. We knew that Opera had submitted a version of its Opera Mini web browser to the iPhone App Store for approval. But smart money was against Apple actually approving the app. After all, it’s a web browser. And the iPhone already has one of those: It’s called Safari. Apple has a long and steady history of rejecting apps duplicate the functionality of core iPhone apps… like the browser. But for some reason, Apple decided to let this one slide… probably just to mess with us or something.
Of course, Opera has its own theory. Since the Opera Mini browser uses server-side compression to render some web content much more quickly on mobile devices, Opera suggested that the browser is actually different enough from Safari to warrant its approval. At the very least, it should make surfing over a 2G connection with a first generation iPhone a whole lot more bearable.
Whatever the reason, the folks at Opera have sent out a note letting the world know that Apple has approved Opera Mini for the iPhone, and the app should be available as a free download from the App Store within the next 24 hours.
That means you can now use Opera Mini on Windows Mobile, Google Android, Symbian, the iPhone, and pretty much any Java-based phone. In addition to using remote servers to compress data and cut down on the bandwidth used by your phone, Opera Mini has some other nice features including a customizable start page with thumbnail shortcuts for your frequently visited sites, a rather elegant browser tab-switching scheme, and the ability to synchronize your preferences with the Opera Link web service — so you can share your bookmarks and other preferences with the desktop version of Opera.
You can check out a demo video of Opera Mini for the iPhone after the break.