First Look at Coast: Opera’s Browser for the iPad

iPad: No True Native Browser, Until Now

Most iOS browsers are just ports. Besides the multitouch gestures, they're basically identical to their PC/Mac counterparts. I use Chrome and Safari primarily, and neither really offers anything beyond a PC experience on a tablet computer. While familiarity is good, it stands to reason that no browser is really utilizing the tablet interface to its full potential. No browser, that is, except for Coast.

Coast is Opera's latest offering for the iPad, and it is a breath of fresh air. Its interface is incredibly simple, and even a bit intimidating at first. There are only two touch buttons – one that pulls up a search/URL entry box, and the other allows for fast visual browsing of your web history. The main search/URL screen is where you'll access your bookmarks, which stand head-and-shoulders above any bookmark/favorite system I have seen in other so-called mobile browsers.

Polygon as seen in the Coast browser

Here's a screeny of Polygon.com in the Coast browser. Note how it's truly full-screen, with only two buttons at the bottom. Beautifully simple, and simply beautiful.

The bookmarks are square tiles that portray the website's favicon (that tiny icon that appears next to the URL). You can arrange the bookmarks in several custom groups, and browse them from the search/URL screen. Adding a bookmark is easy; whenever you hit the home button from a site, its icon appears on the very bottom of the page. Just drag it into the group of bookmark tiles where you feel it belongs, and you're set. Compared to the nightmare of wading through Chrome's wall of text and generic page icons, this is not only a walk in the park, it feels very natural and easy.

I haven't used Coast enough to make a full-on, unqualified recommendation yet, but I plan to use it exclusively through the rest of this week and see how it goes. I'll update next Tuesday, along with more recommendations about how to get the most out of the web with an iPad. Try Coast yourself – it's free, after all. Leave your impressions, thoughts, feelings, non sequiturs, and amusing anecdotes in the comments below. Happy browsing!

 

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