Opera Mobile 10.1 beta for Google Android wasn’t supposed to be available until tomorrow, but it looks like the download link went live for a while today. I can’t find it at the moment, but the folks at Android Life snagged the installer and posted it online.
Update: Opera Mobile beta is now available as a free download from the Android Market.
The browser has a number of features that set it apart from the default Android browser, including:
- Quick switching between browser tabs without switching to a separate window
- Speed Dial feature which lets you customize a thumbnail list of favorite sites
- Opera Turbo mode feature which uses remote web servers to compress pages by up to 70%
- Opera Link for synchronizing bookmarks and other data between mobile and desktop versions of Opera
Opera Mobile 10.1 beta actually looks a lot like Opera Mini, which has been available for Android for months. The difference is that Opera Mini relies primarily on server-side compression while Opera Mobile uses your phone’s hardware to render web pages.
The new browser also supports pinch-to-zoom with hardware acceleration, which means you can zoom in and out with precision, while Opera Mini only has two zoom levels: in and out. Like Firefox Mobile though, Opera Mini seems to take a second to adjust to the new zoom level. Text tends to look fuzzy for a moment after you zoom before it clears up. Overall the browser loads pages much more quickly than Firefox at this point — especially with Turbo enabled. But both browsers are still in beta.
Overall Opera Mobile looks like a decent alternative for the default Android browser for existing Opera users or anyone looking for something a little different. It’s still clearly a work in progress though. When I tapped the browser button on my home screen, Opera didn’t show up as an option. There’s no support for Adobe Flash. And the app takes up quite a bit of storage space — about 20MB out of the box, and about 13 after “moving” the app to the SD card.