Opera is said to be bringing a new WebKit based browser to Android and iOS. Named "Ice", it presents a radical departure from what we're used to seeing with the stock Android Browser, Chrome, or even Safari. Shown off in an internal meeting right before Christmas, the folks at Pocket-lint got their hands on a copy and now we all can have a look.

Besides the UI, which we'll get back to in a moment, it's important to recognize that "Ice" won;t be using the same Presto rendering platform that Opera's current Android apps use. With Ice, Opera has moved to WebKit, the same engine that Chrome and Safari, as well as the stock Android browser and all the custom browsers in Google Play, are using. This should give Ice an edge, as most mobile pages and web apps are designed with WebKit in mind.

The new Opera Ice browser will be based around hiding the technology as much as possible and embracing rich applications. It will ditch all buttons and instead use gestures to control key elements like forwards and backwards. "This is a full touch and tablet-focused browser," said the product manager in the video we've seen. "Most are taking a PC browser and squishing [it] into a tablet, or they are taking a mobile browser and blowing it up to fill the space."

Yes, the UI looks very different. I'm not sure how I feel about "hiding technology" from the end user in favor of gestures and big icons, but I'll have to give the finished product a look before a final judgment.

Ice is not set to replace Opera mini, the small browser that compresses data to save time and bandwidth, but we expect that it may push the standard Opera Mobile for Android browser into retirement. Word is we'll know more at Mobile World Congress, which is coming right around the corner. We'll be there, and keep an eye out.

Source: Pocket-lint


Reader comments

Opera bringing the Ice browser to Android and iOS


I agree, I look forward to Opera Ice. Opera is one of my favorite browsers but their browser speeds have been waning.

Whether it be Presto or Webkit, I don't really much care. I just hope the don't take a step backward with what they've done so far. What they've done is much better than the competition (on android).

I am a big fan of the current Opera Mobile (the heavy one). I've been using it as my primary browser for a long time. On my dated hardware (orginal htc incredible), it by far the best browser experience. My hardware and gingerbread ROM (custom everything) are old enough that the speed isn't really great with any browser.

But what makes Opera Mobile so good is the awesome zooming, panning, and text re-flow/re-size. Absolutely nothing compares to speed, rendering quality, and smooth operation when interacting with web pages. The text-reflow/resize is perfect and instaneous. BANG! ... after every zoom, and always perfectly aligned to the margins.

Every other android browser I found to be just awful compared to it. And after using Opera for a while, and then giving other browsers a trial run, simply made Opera seem light years better than the others.

My wife has a Nexus 4, I hate chrome on it. Some of the UI is nice, but without text re-flow/re-size like I've become accustomed to with Opera, I would never use it on a phone (I do use Chrome on my desktop PC). I think it is beyond absurd to have a mobile phone browser without "functional" zooming (text-reflow) working, and working well. It's like using wooden wagon wheels on a modern car.

I see the options for "like it" and "not" but where is the option for "completely don't care."

Gee, if only there were links to places where they talked about the apps available for blackberry around here...


From what I have seen of the browser in BB10 this is very similar, in fact my first thoughts while watching the video was how it reminds me of the ideas driving BB10.

One of reason they went with Webkit is its the only way to be able to be accepted in to the Apple Store. Apple don't allow full fledge browsers with their own engine. The Chrome browser for iOS use Apple's Webkit stacks. Opera is doing the samething here.

I'll be happy that they keep Presto for their desktop version, side by side test Opera for desktop still use less memory than any other major browsers and I like that.

The more the world shifts towards gestures and 'hiding the technology', the more we become like the hi-tech aliens in scifi movies.

I really hope they dont retire their presto engine on Android... all these different web browsers are nice, but IMO having a different rendering engine really sets Opera apart. While most sites work better in webkit, I still come across the occasional site that works better in Opera's presto engine. Not being a fan of Android's firefox port and its horribly inconsistant font size rendering, I cant think of any other options now for those sites.