Feeds

Opera Mobile for Android: it's no Fatfox

Chunky Mozilla browser shamed

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Update: Opera now says that the install size of Opera for Android will be about 20MB and that the download size is 6.5MB. This story has been updated accordingly.

Opera Mobile won't show up on Android as fat as Firefox 4.

Late last week, Mozilla released an obese Firefox 4 beta that required about 40MB of storage space – no small thing when you consider that so many Android phones are limited to between 64 and 512MB of app storage.

Mozilla blames at least part of Firefox's fatness on the Android native development kit, which forces the open source outfit to save the browser's rendering files in two places: inside its Android package (APK) file and in a folder on the handset.

But according to Opera Mobile and Mini product manager Phillips Gronvold, Open Mobile for Android will have an install size of 20MB (after a 6.5MB download).

"We have fifteen years of experience putting browsers on small devices," he tells The Reg. As the company announced yesterday at a press event in Oslo, Norway, the browser will arrive in the Android app marketplace place within the month.

The Norwegians already offer an Android incarnation of their low-bandwidth Opera Mini browser, which taps into Opera proxy servers that intercept and compress web pages before sending them down to the handset. But it has yet to offer the more complete Opera Mobile browser on the Google operating system. Opera Mobile is capable of accessing the web through those same proxy servers, but it can also directly access the net, downloading pages in full.

Yes, Mozilla is working to shrink its fat Firefox. Developer Michael Wu is fashioning a dynamic linker that can load the rendering libraries from the APK without copying them to a folder. And according to Mozilla, this will cut the installation size by more than half. But it will increase startup time, and however small it gets, we still question Mozilla's position on mobiles.

The Firefox alpha for Android was practically unusable. Even if you can spare the space for the beta, its performance is still shockingly poor. The browser will never be available on the iPhone. And it has landed on only one other mobile platform: Nokia Maemo.

As difficult a time as Mozilla faces on the desktop with Google now playing the browser game, it's facing a far greater battle on mobiles. There was good reason to adopt Firefox on the desktop in the mid oughts. But the modern mobile browser market has panned out quite differently.

Mozilla's position is in stark contrast to the mobileness of Opera, which already has a strong foothold on handsets thanks in large part to the low-bandwidth Opera Mini, a browser that's right at home on good old fashioned feature phones.

On Thursday, in Oslo, the company laid claim to 71 million active Opera Mini users, and Gronvold tells us that this only includes those who've used the browser at least once in the past thirty days. Opera Mini is even available on the iPhone. Thanks to those proxy servers, it doesn't interpret code on the Jobsian holy handheld.

Since the Apple app police approved Opera Mini for the Jesus Phone in April, Jobs has "clarified" developer rules for the device, and among other things, the new laws say that: "Apps that browse the web must use the iOS WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript." Gronvold acknowledges the new phrase worries Opera a bit. But he contends that in a sense, Opera Mini isn't browsing the web. It's merely receiving compressed pages from a proxy server.

But even if the ever capricious Apple police bring the hammer on Mini, Opera is better placed on mobiles than a certain other browser maker. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.