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Opera Mobile hits Android

The mobile version of browser bit-player Opera, called for obvious reasons Opera Mobile, has been updated on Android devices and addresses some of the issues of its predecessor Opera Mini.

Opera Mobile 10.1, which is available as a free beta as of today, is designed to be a fully-functional equivalent to the desktop browser experience offered by Opera - unlike Opera Mini, which was released for Android some time ago and offers a cut-down browsing experience.

Powered by Opera's Presto rendering engine, the company promises a significantly-faster browsing experience than the default Android web browser. The two-stage limited zoom functionality of Opera Mini has been replaced with a fluid zoom system, and Opera promises a smooth zooming and panning experience even on slower Android devices.

If you're an Opera user on the desktop, the addition of Opera Link will likely fill you with joy - all bookmarks made on the desktop can be viewed and edited on the mobile, and vice-versa, giving you complete access to your favourite sites no matter what device you're using.

Another improvement over Opera Mini is the ability to be set as the default browser, meaning that all web links will open in Opera Mobile instead of the stock Android browser. While third-party solutions for setting Opera Mini as the default browser were available, they were never particularly convenient.

One feature that has come across from Opera Mini intact is Opera Turbo mode, which uses Opera's servers as a proxy that invisibly compresses the data sent to your mobile device - offering, in some cases, up to 80 per cent compression rates. If you're on a limited download cap - or worse, paying per megabyte - or can only get a GPRS connection, it's an option worth playing with.

"Android users now have a better choice when it comes to using a browser on their mobile devices," said Opera's chief executive Lars Boilesen of the beta launch. "With Opera’s new browser for Android, we give users the opportunity to access the Web, using the best tools available."

The beta is available for immediate, free, download from the Android Market, or for manual installation from Opera's mobile site.