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Apple does the unthinkable and approves Opera Mini for the iPhone, iPod touch

In what must be one of the most shocking developments in the whole Apple App Store versus the third-party app market comes news that Opera Mini has been approved by Apple for the iPhone and iPod touch. When Opera Software submitted the apps for Apple's prying eyes back in March, no one really took them seriously and thought that they were just showing off to drum up some press.

Well, Apple has shown Opera some leniency and Opera Mini will be available to U.S. iPhone and iPod touch users shortly. Here's the Opera press release in its entirety:

Opera today announced its popular mobile browser, Opera Mini has been approved for iPhone and iPod touch on the App Store. Opera Mini will be available as a free download within 24 hours, depending on market.

Opera Mini, with more than 50 million users worldwide, enables fast mobile Web browsing by compressing data by up to 90 percent before sending content to the device, resulting in significantly improved page loading. Users of the app will notice an uptake in speed, especially on slower networks such as the 2G Edge network. Surfing the Web with the Opera Mini App on iPhone and iPod touch will also help users save money because of its data compression capabilities. This will hold especially true while the user is incurring roaming charges.

"We are delighted to offer iPhone and iPod touch users a great browsing experience with the Opera Mini App," said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. "This app is another step toward Opera's goal of bringing the Web to more people in more places."

The Opera Mini App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at

Could the walls be crumbling in Apple's heavy-handed approach to App Store acceptance/rejection? Maybe Opera just caught Steve Jobs on a good day. Who knows, but this is at least a good step forward for Apple.

Updated 4/13/2010

It's now available in the iTunes Store.

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By AlterBridge86 on 4/12/2010 9:21:04 PM , Rating: 5
Apple probably figured if they didn't approve Opera then they might sue them and force them to put a browser ballot screen on the iPhone for a fair choice of mobile browser... :-)

RE: Well...
By cmdrdredd on 4/12/2010 9:31:34 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure if I should feel good about this or shouldn't care. Safari seemed ok, but AT&T's network was crap. I'm speaking in past tense because I have since switched to Verizon and use a Droid. I didn't see anything wrong with Safari when it worked, and I fail to see how another browser could offer anything compelling enough to use it instead on a mobile device. Even with some form of compression, AT&T either worked for me or didn't.

RE: Well...
By someguy123 on 4/12/2010 9:38:10 PM , Rating: 2
According to the article Opera mini should allow crappier connections (aka all AT&T connections) to load faster due to lower amounts of data transfer.

RE: Well...
By cmdrdredd on 4/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: Well...
By lecanard on 4/12/2010 10:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
Actually AT&T's 3G is faster if you live in cities that aren't NY or SF, so this would be even more useful if the iPhone was released on Verizon's slower 3G network. I know it's fun to mock AT&T, but let's not misinform people who live in places like LA and trick them into switching to Verizon, hoping for better service, only to be let down by the slower 3G.

If you live in a less populated area and are stuck on AT&T's Edge network, then yes, this will be a big help.

RE: Well...
By 67STANG on 4/12/2010 11:25:19 PM , Rating: 5
Har-har. Do you live under an AT&T tower?

The fact of the matter is, Verizon's "slower" 3G is actually faster in the real world because:

a) It's usually where you are.
b) If you have AT&T and Verizon 3G service in the area, Verizon almost always has a better connection.
c) I've noticed I almost always drop calls while indoors unless I turn 3G off on my AT&T phone.

After all, higher throughput speeds are only good if you can establish and retain a connection with a good S:N ratio.

I have both Verizon and AT&T and I travel all over. I'm speaking from experience-- not because I'm a fanboy of either carrier.

RE: Well...
By invidious on 4/13/2010 2:15:04 PM , Rating: 2
I have AT&T. My 3g is fine. I NEVER get dropped calls, neither does anyone I know who has AT&T. I have lived all over the state in CT, I travel to southern Mass very often and NYC every few months.

Why is it so hard to believe that AT&T is only bad in certain areas? You say yourself that it varies by area. I used to have terrible 3g reception on my iPhone but Apple released a software patch a long time ago to fix it. So it turned out not to be AT&T's fault.

In these cases the only news you hear about is bad news. People who are happy with their service rarely go online to forums ranting about how satisfied they are. You can't assume that because all you see is complaints that everyone's service is terrible. You are only seeing the loud minority. Clearly AT&T didn't get as large as they are by having terrible service.

I can't speak to the speed of AT&T vs speed of Verizon, but last time I checked I was getting 200 kpbs on my 3G.

RE: Well...
By icanhascpu on 4/17/2010 5:06:40 AM , Rating: 2
I get over 200kbps on EDGE.

RE: Well...
By omnicronx on 4/13/2010 11:33:59 AM , Rating: 4
FUD.. Anyone who really thinks GSM 3G is substantially faster than CDMA 3G is kidding themselves.. (especially when you consider how similar they are in nature when talking about 3g)

In real world scenarios, they are pretty much the same, with GSM networks usually having a better upload speed (but really who cares)..

It all depends on the area you live in, some areas where GSM networks are crammed, CDMA will be faster, the exact opposite is also true. Some areas one carrier has invested more money than the other etc etc.. but to say one network is 'slower than the other' in general is just plain incorrect..

FYI.. It does not matter where you live or what network you are accessing, Opera Mini will be sustancially faster on current hardware. Displaying a picture is much less CPU intensive than rendering a webpapge, not to mention the compression factor. I've been using it for a while, side by side with Opera Mobile, and its definitely a lot faster. Its also good for displaying webpages that your normal browser can't.

RE: Well...
By Chaser on 4/13/2010 2:26:40 PM , Rating: 2
I think what's more important here is actually having 3G coverage?

As a traveler on the road coast to coast you gotta have 3G for it to be slow or fast.

From personal experience of residing in urban and rural areas, Boston, San Francisco, Beaumont TX, Miami, Atlantic City, Petaluma, CA, Mobile Alabama, and a lot more AT&T's 3G coverage isn't even close to Verizon's. Another compelling reason why I switched from the iPhone to a Verizon (DROID). 3G.

The map doesn't lie.

RE: Well...
By lainofthewired on 4/12/2010 9:57:56 PM , Rating: 2
That would really set the flying pigs airborne.

RE: Well...
By rika13 on 4/13/10, Rating: -1
RE: Well...
By MadMan007 on 4/13/2010 2:27:31 AM , Rating: 1
They also don't make money on 'free' web-based flash content. I honestly think that's the overriding prime reason and all the other stuff is a semi-smokescreen.

RE: Well...
By Tony Swash on 4/13/10, Rating: -1
Opera Mini
By Dennis Travis on 4/13/2010 12:59:19 AM , Rating: 2
It's in the USA App Store right now. I just installed it and it's like that You Tube video demo. Very fast. Just a heads up. Give it a try.

RE: Opera Mini
By kmmatney on 4/13/2010 1:31:08 AM , Rating: 2
Just downloaded it - it must be very small, as it downloaded very quick through a 3G connection. It works pretty well, although I think it zooms in and out too fast - harder to control the zoom, compared to Safari. It does seem decently fast.

RE: Opera Mini
By kmmatney on 4/13/2010 1:41:38 AM , Rating: 2
It needs some work, or maybe I just don't get it. I tried to log into this site to see if I could post a message with it, but I can't figure out how to log in. The browser refreshes the page as soon as I put in my username, and before I can type in the password. I have no problem logging into DT with Safari. I was able to log onto a few other sites, but not DT.

RE: Opera Mini
By MonkeyPaw on 4/13/2010 3:52:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it won't let me post either. It also fails to load most mobile pages correctly. I don't care how fast it is if it can't render web pages right. Also, its zoom feature is pretty bad--you don't get many zoom options. Better get to work, Opera.

FYI, I like the Mercury browser. It's not perfect, but it has a full screen option that really makes mobile browsing better. Free to try even.

RE: Opera Mini
By Omega215D on 4/13/2010 4:18:35 AM , Rating: 2
I don't always browse the web on my phone, but when I do I prefer Opera Mini.

Stay geeky my friends.

*sorry, just had to. Besides Opera is quite good on my blackberry.

RE: Opera Mini
By Lord Zado on 4/13/2010 8:53:59 AM , Rating: 2
So I just downloaded it from the app store. It is a bit faster than Safari, which is nice. It doesn't give me the option to import my bookmarks from Safari though. That's pretty annoying!

They offer Opera Link which I guess syncs your mobile bookmarks with your Opera bookmarks on another PC, but I don't use Opera at home. I guess I could download it at home, import bookmarks, then link them to my phone, but that's a really roundabout way of having to do it.

RE: Opera Mini
By daveinternets on 4/13/2010 10:39:20 AM , Rating: 2
I did. The zooming with multi-touch is pretty bad. It zooms into 'sections' of web pages too well in fact. You can't really control the level of zoom. I'm still only 31 and my eyes aren't that bad so I don't need to zoom in that much.

Hard to read the WoW forums with it, so, that pretty much makes it DOA for me! :P

Keeping it on my phone for now, hopefully they will improve the zooming.

RE: Opera Mini
By Sazar on 4/13/2010 1:42:59 PM , Rating: 2
Through settings you can adjust pretty much whatever you want.

I am hoping for multi-touch support to be better in future iterations but, this things is just plain FAST and has awesome tabbed browsing :D

Plus, the return of the speed-dial to browsing.

Safari is no longer on my little launch-pad, but I still use it because some sites recognize and format differently for it than they do for Opera.

Not a complete home-run but, I think a lot of people will appreciate the pure speed-boost with Opera vice Safari.

Approved, yes.
By umop apisdn on 4/12/2010 9:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
...but for how long?

RE: Approved, yes.
By mmntech on 4/12/2010 10:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
Just what I was thinking. I'm going to grab this ASAP before they decide they want it off the App Store.

RE: Approved, yes.
By phatboye on 4/12/2010 10:52:19 PM , Rating: 3
it was my understanding though that Apple has the ability to remove any app from any un-jailbroken phone so if/when they decide to disallow Opera Mini it will be deleted from your phone anyways.

*I may be wrong about that though. I remember reading about that a while ago but I might be getting that confused with the Amazon Kindle.*

RE: Approved, yes.
By ltcommanderdata on 4/13/2010 8:19:48 AM , Rating: 2
I believe they have that ability although they've never actually used it. I thought Google also has a similar ability for apps in their app store so I don't think it's unique.

RE: Approved, yes.
By omnicronx on 4/13/2010 11:41:36 AM , Rating: 2
The kill switch has never been used by either I don't think, thought it definitely exists in both appstores.. It seems Apple just removes stuff from the store, they have never actually activated the kill switch for any app, (i.e if you downloaded it before they removed it, it will remain on your phone)

RE: Approved, yes.
By invidious on 4/13/2010 2:59:48 PM , Rating: 2
If they take it away I will finally have a reason to jailbreak.

By phatboye on 4/12/2010 10:19:04 PM , Rating: 2
With increased pressure from other players on the market including Microsoft, Google, RIM and Palm Apple will be forced to relax their rules governing Apple's application store acceptance policies. Especially at a time like this when developers are considering creating applications for other mobile devices.

Honestly I don't think that Apple's decision to disallow intermediate API's will stick. Their is way too much pressure on Apple to open up their platform and with the competition getting stronger as each day passes Apple may even start loosing quality developers or even worse market share.

By sapiens74 on 4/12/2010 10:29:39 PM , Rating: 1
Uh they are pushing for Open platform

Flash is not open, its an Adobe application

HTML 5 is open....

By phatboye on 4/12/2010 10:47:55 PM , Rating: 3
you took my usage of the word "open" of context. Yes they are pushing for the usage of HTML 5 but I wasn't exactly referring to that was I.

By phatboye on 4/12/2010 10:48:40 PM , Rating: 2
*out of context*

This site needs an edit button

Praise be to the flying pigs
By invidious on 4/13/2010 2:57:17 PM , Rating: 2
Safari was the worst part of the iPhone to me. So far Opera mini seems great. Pages load much faster especially those with images. I use Opera as my browser on my PC and have high hopes for Opera mini.

My only gripe is that the phone still associates Safari as the default browser, but I will take what I can get.

RE: Praise be to the flying pigs
By Sazar on 4/13/2010 5:11:06 PM , Rating: 2
In retrospect, after using Opera, I have to say that there were a lot of good things about Safari.

Yes, it was more feature-limited and is definitely slower than Opera, but the transitions, the multi-touch, zooming and form entry were very well handled and more polished than on Opera (current iteration).

Overall, it works relatively well, although I still have some quibbles about things, like the page reloading everytime you press the back button and the bookmarks being handled poorly, and lack of true tabs.

I have used Opera almost exclusively since downloading it late last night and I doubt I am switching back anytime soon, but for form-entry, I am sticking to Safari. It just has a more elegant/intuitive design for it.

By eddieroolz on 4/13/2010 1:54:48 AM , Rating: 2
Could the walls be crumbling in Apple's heavy-handed approach to App Store acceptance/rejection?


Call me a pessimist, but I don't think so. This is just one of those things that had many mobile analysts watching, so Apple couldn't reject it without causing an uproar.

That's my take.

RE: Pessimistic
By MadMan007 on 4/13/2010 2:31:06 AM , Rating: 1
Maybe they are throwing a bone to the smallest marketshare but still known browser to look like they're being somewhat open. Now if the heir-apparent arch enemy Google got a browser approved that would make me think Apple is actually being more open to high profile third-party apps.

By SurreDeth on 4/13/2010 9:55:28 AM , Rating: 3
that hide my porn browsing automatically when I close them.

Maybe AT&T told them to accept it
By lecanard on 4/12/2010 10:29:57 PM , Rating: 2
This will hopefully decrease network data traffic, which has been something AT&T blames for its difficulty in keeping up.

By PrinceGaz on 4/13/2010 10:26:42 AM , Rating: 2
...but it turns out Apple Mini really has been approved. It has its flaws, for instance (and quite importantly) Opera Link fails to transfer bookmarks so you have to add those manually very tediously, though it does import the speed-dial links (effectively a top-9 list of favourites). It also always sends a mobile browser string meaning you often get the stripped-down mobile version of websites you visit, unless the site offers an alternative link to force the desktop version to be displayed instead (which can mean changing the bookmark). Zooming is limited to a fixed two-option fully-in or fully-out (unreadable whole-width preview), unlike the far more intuitive and superior smooth any-zoom level of Safari.

Having said that, it loads websites much quicker even on WiFi as much of the work is being done on Opera's servers, so as well as cutting down on network traffic, it is presumably also cutting down on battery usage when loading sites. Despite being version 5.0 of Opera Mini generally, it feels very much like a v1.0 iPhone app in terms of user-experience.

One to watch, and hopefully an update fixing the main problems is on its way, as if the above problems were fixed, Opera Mini could well be a superior alternative to Safari (at present I feel it isn't, despite my using Opera as my preferred desktop browser).

"When pigs fly?" Puh-leeze.
By CZroe on 4/13/2010 1:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
I wish folks would stop treating this like a "pigs fly" situation. We all knew that there was a lot of pressure on Apple and that that is why Opera even bothered to submit it. Concern over past litigation over similar things caused this and that's exactly what Opera was hoping for. Apple thought better of fighting for their right to exclude from their controlled market because this one fight could have resulted in them legally losing control. Apple may have user agreements that differentiate this from open-platform browser wars, but why test them? They called it a "smartphone" back when the very definition meant having the ability to run and execute *arbitrary* software. People who bought under that pretense and fought legally could bring down "The House that Apple Built."

It was either "fight it" or "allow it," with either being a distinct possibility due to the difficulty of the fight. Though it didn't seem likely (Apple often brings the fight), it wasn't totally unexpected. We should stop behaving that way.

By eirruby on 4/17/2010 2:58:23 PM , Rating: 2
No wonder Apple approve this mobile browser they are more experienced than any other browsers.

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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