After launching the Coast browser for iPads back in September of last year, Opera today launched Coast for iPhones and iPod touch. The browser carries over the minimalistic design and gesture-based controls from the iPad version and now offers them in a more compact package. So how does Coast perform on the iPhones, and is it good enough to make users shift from other browsers like Safari or Google Chrome? Read on to find out.
Let’s start with the good bits first. The browser is great for users who don’t need a myriad of settings, menus or buttons and just want to surf the Internet without any hassle. At a time when going flat and minimalistic is the trend, Coast’s design feels right at home. When you fire up the app for the first time you are greeted with square icons of Opera’s recommended websites. The grid design is something similar to the homescreen on iOS. If you want to delete any of these icons, all you need to do is long press an icon and swipe them up. To add new icons/bookmark a website, you have to visit the website and the browser automatically creates a new icon for it.
The gesture based controls too are quite savvy and you really don’t miss the buttons we are normally used to. To search the web, just swipe down or to go back or forward we can swipe across the screen. Instead of tabs, you have an iOS 7 multitasking window inspired UI. When you press the three square buttons on the bottom right of the screen, all the open websites are listed like the apps are on iOS 7 and you can click on them to go to that website, or swipe to close them. This is also where you can share a particular page with others. By clicking on the share button, you can print, message, tweet, email or share it on Facebook.
As far as performance is concerned, there is nothing to complain about. The in-app animations are smooth and websites open without any lag.
Until now the browser does look like a very good option and seems like it could easily take on the likes of Safari or Chrome. But the one complaint I had about the browser — and it is a big one — is the lack of settings. While I appreciate Opera’s efforts to keep things simple and not confuse users with a myriad of options, I wish there was an “Advanced Mode” of sorts, which would give me access to settings that I generally use on other browsers. For example, there are no options to read a webpage later, something Safari offers, surf in Incognito Mode or an option to switch to the “Desktop Mode”. Another example of this lack of options is Opera Coast in the iOS Settings Menu, which only offers a switch to clear the browser history.
Opera Coast for iPhone then is a sleek web browser with a beautiful design and smooth gesture controls, but lacks some essential options that would have made it a complete browser for everyone. The gesture-based controls are a boon for iPad users where it is not easy to use both the hands, but on an iPhone these controls end up being a gimmick, you can maybe do without. The browser almost calls out for an “Advanced Mode”, which will keep power users happy, while the basic mode keeps others happy.
Photos: Paranjay Dutt