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You still can't run Opera on the iPhone. But Opera-loving Apple fanbois can take some comfort from the fact that a beta version of the Norwegian browser maker's latest desktop creation is now available for the Mac.

The company released its Opera 10.5 Mac beta Thursday morning. The new build runs on Mac OS 10.4 - Tiger - as well as newer versions of Apple's desktop operating system.

Opera 10.5 includes the company's revamped JavaScript engine, dubbed Carakan - the new Opera Widgets for desktop, which lets those third-party mini-apps run on the desktop even when the browser is closed - and support for the still-gestating HTML5 video standard. Like Mozilla's Firefox, Opera uses the free and open Ogg Theora video codec with the HTML5 video tag.

Built with Apple's Cocoa framework, the browser also offers what Opera calls "better integration" with the Mac OS. This includes support for Growl, which can serve up desktop notifications from the app.

What's more, there's a unified toolbar, support for multi-touch gestures on compatible MacBooks and MacBook Pros, and private tabs and windows that anonymize data sent over the wire.

Though the beta supports Mac OS 10.4, it won't run on PowerPC-based Tiger machines. And Opera acknowledges that the beta has "minimal Java support" and "some Widget keyboard and window issues."

You can download the new build here.

Earlier this month, Opera demoed a version of its Opera Mini mobile browser for the iPhone, but it has yet to actually submit the browser to the iPhone App Store, a company representative confirmed Thursday. Currently, Apple does allow third-party browsers into the App Store, but only if they use the same WebKit rendering engine as its own Safari browser.

Apple's SDK forbids applications from executing their own code unless they use Apple's APIs or interpreters. But Opera Mini does not appear to violate this rule.

Opera Mini is typically a Java application. But the iPhone incarnation is a native app, and like other versions of Opera Mini, it taps into proxy servers that intercept and compress webpages before sending them down to the client. This speeds download times, but it also means that client browser does not run its own webcode. ®

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