Opera Mini, Mobile get data usage counter

Browser maker Opera has announced a new release of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile, its mobile- and tablet-centric offerings, which come with an interesting feature: a display of exactly how much it's saving you.

Since their inception, the Opera Mini and Opera Mobile browsers have included a clever feature designed to improve performance and save money: all traffic is, by default, received via Opera's own servers.

As the pages hit Opera's servers, the graphics are compressed to a smaller size and HTML, CSS and JavaScript compressed - meaning that the page that hits your phone is significantly smaller than the page that originated on the remote server.

The result: faster page loads on slow GPRS connections, and - potentially more importantly - reduced monthly data usage.

Although many smartphone contracts offer 500MB or 1GB of download allowance per month, usage outside this limit is often expensive - and pay-as-you-go users or those on cheaper contracts often find themselves paying significant amounts of money for bundles as small as 10MB.

By compressing the data sent to the phone, Opera Mobile and Opera Mini help keep this usage down - saving both time and money.

It's a solution that has since been adopted by other browser makers, with Amazon introducing a similar feature into the Silk browser for its Kindle Fire Android tablet. While it comes with privacy implications - as all traffic is routed through a third party server, there's the potential for man-in-the-middle attacks - many users decide the pros outweigh the cons.

The new releases - Opera Mini 6.5 and Opera Mobile 11.5, plus a special Opera Labs build for MeeGo users - introduce a neat way to demonstrate to users just what a difference the technology makes: Data Usage view.

By going to Help and Data Usage, users are able to see a counter which shows the total amount of data that would have been transferred if a different browser was used, compared to the data transferred thanks to Opera's compression technology.

Additionally, both browsers get a 'star' button in the URL field for quick bookmarking of the current site, while Opera Mobile now includes improved Opera Turbo technology and support for additional video codecs.

All versions are available to download now directly from Opera.