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Opera Delivers Web App for Google's Phone Platform

First released in January 2006, Opera Mini's become a widely popular alternative to bundled feature phone and smartphone browsers, having been downloaded more than 40 million times. Today, a preview version of this Web browser tailored to Google's Android platform has been made available to developers.

Opera made the Android version of Opera Mini available now, long before any so-called gPhone is supposed to become commercially available, so as to give developers time to test and share feedback with the company, which says a beta edition is forthcoming. Developers can obtain Opera Mini for Android at labs.opera.com.

Hundreds of thousands have downloaded the Android software developer kit (SDK) since its release last fall. In fact, Google is already bundling a mobile browser with the SDK. We saw it in action, albeit briefly, running on an Android-run prototype phone during a meeting with Qualcomm last week at the CTIA Wireless show.

Opera Mini works by compressing data at a remote server before sending content to the phone applet on a mobile handset for rendering. It promises to deliver desktop-like Web browsing, including Small Screen Rendering, Zoom, synced bookmarks and (yes) integrated Google search.

“Today we’re glad to deliver our mass-market mobile browser to the Android development groups,” said Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner in a statement. “Opera Mini will be able to empower users of Android-based handsets with access to all of their favorite Web sites with popular features for smooth effects and scalable, tailored viewing.”

A week ago, Opera rolled out a beta of the most recent edition, version 4.1, of the free Java-based browser. With version 4.1, Opera upgraded its servers to enable Opera Mini to receive requests for Web pages up to 50 percent faster, the company said. And when you type Web addresses, the Opera Mini will now recognize and suggest completions based on your Bookmarks and browsing history.

You can also now search for text within a Web page, download and upload files without being re-rerouted to your phone's native browser, attach files Web-based e-mail, and save pages for offline viewing.

Although Opera didn’t say so, we think it is likely any new features introduced for Opera Mini for Java should find their way to the edition for Android as well.

This article first appeared on PDAStreet.