Opera releases beta of Android browser

The Norweigian browser developer hopes its product will be faster than the competition

Opera Software has released its Mobile 10.1 beta for Android, joining the battle for browser supremacy on Android-based smartphones.

The software can be downloaded from the Android Market and will be made available for download on Opera's website, the company said Tuesday. It works on Android version 1.6 or later, and is available in 18 different languages.

The company is hoping speed and ease-of-use will help set it apart from the competition, which includes Mozilla's Firefox 4, the Skyfire browser, Dolphin Browser HD and Android's standard browser.

Opera Mobile boasts faster page loading than other browsers, helped by its Turbo feature, which compresses data, according to the company. The feature is especially helpful on slow or congested networks, it said. Future versions of the browser will also use hardware acceleration to speed up panning and zooming on websites, according to a spokesman.

Features include Opera's Speed Dial, a password manager, and Link, which synchronizes bookmarks and other user data among phones and computers. The Speed Dial feature arranges nine favorite sites in a grid of thumbnails, one for each site.

Opera Mobile 10.1 for Android will also take advantage of touchscreens. The browser comes with a new pinch-to-zoom feature, which will zoom from page-width down to the text you want to focus on in one fluid motion, according to Opera. Users can also long-press -- instead of just touching a link, users keeps their finger in place on the screen a bit longer -- to open a link in a new tab.

Tabs along with bookmarks, settings, history and the Speed Dial start page are all accessed via a menu bar at the bottom of the screen. At the top of the screen the browser has an address field and a search field placed next to each other.

The browser will get Flash support, according to the spokesman. It will not work in this beta release, but will be included in a future release, he said via e-mail without elaborating.

Opera isn't ready to say when the final version will ship.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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