Opera, the Norwegian web browser company that announced earlier this year that it was throwing in the towel on its own web-rendering technology and shifting to WebKit across all products has just released a new iPad browser: Coast.
According to Opera, Coast is “the browser your iPad deserves.”
The base principle of Coast is simple: it’s not trying to translate a traditional PC browsing paradigm on a tocuh interface. Instead, Opera is trying to rebuild browsing on tablets from the ground up, targeting “devices of the future, not the past.”
One of Opera’s big strengths as a company has always been robust gesture-support, and Coast is built from the ground up to feature a primarily gesture-based interface, while featuring a fullscreen look and minimal application chrome. Open up Coast and you won’t see a title bar, a web address, or a search view, although you can reveal these elements by swiping down from the top, similar to the way you find Spotlight on iOS 7. Other interface elements include a small home button that returns users to a grid of most visited websites, and a most recent button to display recent browsing history. Otherwise, it’s very slick.
I like it, although unfortunately, Coast is working at the same disadvantages as other browsers on iOS: forced to use Apple’s in-app WebKit rendering engine instead of super-fast Nitro, Chrome is slower than Mobile Safari at most tasks. Otherwise, though, this is a browser to check out..