Category Archives: Browsers
Opera Software has released an upgraded version of Opera Mini 4.n, its lightweight Java ME proxy browser for older and low end feature phones that can't run Opera Mini 7.1. The new release is Opera Mini 4.5 and it replaces Opera Mini 4.4 in the company's lineup. Compared with its predecessor, Mini 4.5 adds:
- The download Manager from Opera Mini 7.1 which supports pausing and resuming downloads and downloading multiple files simultaneously.
- Better support for touchscreen devices including kinetic scrolling and increased spacing between tappable elements.
- New skins including a new light default skin
- Added a private browsing option which hides your activity from the browser history and download history and deletes, cookies, cache and passwords when you exit private browsing.
I tested the new version on an LG LN 272 QWERTY slider feature phone. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a long standing bug with all Mini 4.n versions that caused to "tear" and become corrupted and unreadable when scrolling on this device was fixed.
On Monday Opera Software released Opera Mobile 14. This is the first non-Beta Opera browser to be based on the open source WebKit layout engine rather than Opera's legacy in-house Presto engine. Opera Mobile 14 uses a very recent 537.71 version of WebKit. That's even newer than the WebKit version used by the Chrome browser for Android. And unlike Chrome, which requires Android 4.0 or later, Opera Mobile 14 runs on Android 2.3 and later bringing the benefits of the latest WebKit to millions of older phones that can't run Chrome.
Opera has announced its intention to use WebKit for all new releases going forward. While I think this is a smart move for Opera, I believe that they jumped the gun a bit with this release. Opera 14 replaced Opera 12.1 in the Android Play Store and when installed it replaces 12.1 on the phone. Some users with auto app update enabled likely got a bit of a shock when then opened Opera for the first time after the update. The new browser looks nothing like the old and has a completely different user interface.
I generally like the updated UI. It's cleaner and more modern looking, and switching tabs takes fewer clicks. I especially like how the top navigation toolbar scrolls off the screen for a true full screen view unmarred by the semi-transparent buttons of previous Opera versions. The navigation bar can be moved to the bottom of the screen as many users seem to prefer. However I like to keep it on the top as there's no full-screen option when it's on the bottom.
Unfortunately, Opera Mobile 14 is missing a number of its predecessor's features including;
- Opera Link bookmark and Speed Dial synchronization is gone, replaced by access to the read-only online version at link.opera.com.
- There's no tablet support, Opera Mobile has disappeared from the Play Store for tablet users
- There are no Bookmarks. There's a partial replacement in that it's now possible to create Speed Dial folders. However folders within folders are not supported.
- Speed Dial target URLs are no longer editable
- Bookmarklets don't work
- The ability to choose a folder when downloading is gone
- With the old Opera Mobile you could easily and extensively customize font sizes, folder locations, the browser user agent and much more using a hidden menu that was accessed by typing opera:config in the address bar. These types of customizations are either gone or relocated and undocumented in Opera Mobile 14.
The new Opera works well on my old by speedy dual-core Motorola Photon Android 2.3 phone with its gigabyte of RAM. Browser start-up takes a bit longer than I'd like but once launched Opera 14 seems snappy and does better with most of the poorly designed sites that don't render well or work properly in Opera Mobile 12.1. However on my wife's equally old but single core Nexus S with 512MB RAM, Opera 14 is quite sluggish. Chrome and Firefox Mobile perform better than Opera 14 on the Nexus S.
I like where Opera is going with WebKit. But, I wish they had kept the WebKit version a Beta at least until it was feature complete with Opera Link style synchronization, multi-level hierarchical bookmarks and tablet support. I doubt that Opera Webkit will ever be as fast on low end hardware as the lean and mean legacy Presto Opera. But I expect it will eventually be at least as performant as Android Chrome.
It you upgraded to Opera 14 and want to go back to Opera 12.1, the .apk download is available at opera.com/mobile/download/versions/. If you get an error installing, go to Settings > Applications settings and enable Unknown sources.
Update, Opera Mobile 12.1 is now available in the Play Store as Opera Mobile Classic. It installs alongside Opera Mobile 14 but doesn't import your Opera bookmarks and Speed Dials.
Latest UC Browser 9.0 (Signed Java Version) Modified to Remove the Virtual Keypad On Samsung, LG and Other Touchcreen Phones
I did a post a while ago explaining how to modify Opera Mini's jad file to hide the unneeded touch keypad that displays at the bottom of the screen on some touchscreen phones. The post included a link to the modified Opera Mini. I received a request asking for a copy of the latest signed Java version of UC Browser modified to hide the keypad.
The process for modifying the UC Browser or any other Java app is exactly the same as what was described in the original post:
1.Download the app's jad file to a PC. You can get UC Browser jad files (signed or unsigned ) at www.ucweb.com/English/UCbrowser/platform.html?platform=java
2. Open the downloaded mini.jad with a text editor or Windows Wordpad
3. Scroll to the bottom of the file and paste in the following lines:
4. Upload the file to Dropbox.com or another file sharing service that is easy to use in your phone browser. Click here to get a free 2GB Dropbox account (by using this referral link I get an extra 250 MB of storage in my Dropbox which I thank you for).
5. Visit Dropbox with your phone browser and click the modified mini.jad link to download it to your phone.
If that didn't work or you don't have a PC or are just in a hurry, here's are links to the latest signed version of the UC browser as well as some older versions.
UC Browser 9.0 (25-Apr-2013) The latest "full" (non-cloud) UC Browser release. According to UC, new features in it include:
- Fast Video and Audio Playing We have designed the Fast Video and Audio Playing feature to break through storage limitation and poor network connection. The new feature allows users to play video files that have been saved to UDisk directly, without having to download those big files to local phone storage. Enjoy the fluent videos watching on Java Phone.
- Account Information Saving To make logging-in to your favourite webpages more convenient, we’ve added the ability for you to save usernames and passwords on several websites, such as Facebook and GMail.
- Improved User Interface We’ve given our user interface a makeover, optimizing the design to provide an enhancement of user experience. The menus, night mode, operation in touch screen phones and more has been optimized.
- Bug Fixes The stability of this version has been increased and there have been numerous bug fixes, such as a solution to the missing Speed Dial issue.
Download the modified UC Browser 9.0 jad at:
Short Link: is.gd/uc90touch
To install, go to is.gd/uc90touch with your phone's browser.
UC Browser 8.9 (29-Jan-2012) A "full" (non-cloud) UC Browser release. New features include: Incognito Browsing, Improved Search Bar, Select and Copy and Optimized Text Input
Download the modified UC Browser 8.9 jad at: dl.dropbox.com/u/4637247/UCBrowser_V126.96.36.199_Java_pf70_%28Build13012415%29.jad
Short Link: is.gd/uc89touch To install, go to is.gd/uc89touch with your phone's browser.
UC Browser 8.8 (25-Dec-2012) Another "full" (non-cloud) UC Browser release. New features include: increased download speed, customizable shortcut keys and an improved File Manager.
Download the modified UC Browser 8.8 jad at: dl.dropbox.com/u/4637247/UCBrowser_V188.8.131.52_Java_pf70_%28Build12122410%29.jad
Short Link: is.gd/uc88touch To install it, go to is.gd/uc88touch with your phone's browser.
UC Browser 8.7 (7-Nov-2012) This is a "full" (non-cloud) UC Browser release. New features include: users can switch between multiple accounts when signing in to a website, long press the OK button to invoke the Actions menu, users can save pages directly without changing the page name.
Download the modified UC Browser 8.7 jad at:
Short Link: is.gd/uc87touch To install it, go to is.gd/uc87touch with your phone's browser.
UC Browser 8.6. (20-Sept-2012): This is a "full (non-cloud) UC Browser release. New features in this release are: full offline download support with synchronous status shown in the download manager, you can now preview the images before uploading, "clear all history" option before exiting UC Browser added, new options to disable the virtual keyboard, faster uploads and display of the upload speed in KB/sec while uploading. This version uses the new user interface from the cloud version with different menus for touch screen and non touch screen phones
Download the modified UC Browser 8.6 jad at: dl.dropbox.com/u/4637247/UCBrowser_V184.108.40.206_Java_pf70_%28Build12092011%29.jad
Short link: is.gd/uc860touch To install it, go to is.gd/uc860touch with your phone browser.
UC Cloud Browser 8.5 (6-Sept-2012): This is first non-Beta version of the UC Cloud Browser, a redesign of the original UC browser optimized for smaller download size and faster page loads. New features in this release are: new user interface with different menus for touch screen and non touch screen phones. Supports copy and paste in the URL bar and all input fields. New screen brightness setting. New share image on Facebook feature. New Game Center free game download store.
I've posted the modified UC Cloud Browser 8.5 jad at: dl.dropbox.com/u/4637247/UCBrowser_V220.127.116.11_Java_pf83_%28Build12082909%29.jad
Short link: is.gd/uc85touch. To install it, go to is.gd/uc85touch with your phone browser.
UC Browser 8.4 (23-Jul-2012):. Major changes are: simplified theme installation, the traffic statistics display is back, the link to browsing history has been moved to the top of the bookmarks page and a there's a new Tools > Phone menu option for making phone call or send a texts from within the browser. See my review for more about 8.4: UC Browser 8.4 for Java Released With Bug Fixes, New Features.
UC Browser 8.3 Alpha (7-Jun-2012): New features include; UDisk cloud based storage and the App Gallery, a new home screen tab providing quick access to UDisk, bookmark backup and restore and the Quick Reads news deader.
Short link: is.gd/uc83touch. To install it, go to db.tt/ajY88aHm with your phone browser.
UC Browser 8.2.1 Production (non-Beta) (20-Apr-2012): New features include a built in RSS reader and bookmark backup and restore. See my review for more details.
Short link: db.tt/ajY88aHm. To install it, go to db.tt/ajY88aHm with your phone browser.
UC Browser 8.2 Alpha (21-Mar-2012): It features many enhancements and bug fixes see my review for details. This is the latest patch release that adds swipe navigation and fixes a bug that made entering URLs on bada phones impossible:
Short link: is.gd/uc82touch. To install it, go to is.gd/uc82touch with your phone browser.
UC Browser 8.0 (1-Feb-2012):
Short link: is.gd/uc8touch. To install it, go to is.gd/uc8touch with your phone browser.
On Monday Opera Software released Opera Mini 7.5.2 for Android. It was mostly a bug fix release but also included font changes. I noticed that the fonts on many sites were smaller in the new release. The new fonts made text on the effected sites hard to read and I immediately went back to the previous 7.5.1 version. Play Store reviews of the new version were largely negative as were comments on Opera's own forums.
Today Opera released Opera Mini Android version 7.5.3 to address the font size issue. I upgraded to the new version and can confirm that font sizes are larger in 7.5.3 (third image, above) than they were in 7.5.2 (middle image) but are still a little smaller than in 7.5.1 (first image). Click the images to view them in their original size. I find the new fonts readable. According to a post on the Opera Mini Forum the changes in 7.5.3 are:
- Font size and page layout improvements
- Fixed crash on http://www.drudgereport.com/
The new version identifies itself as 7.5.33361 in the browser's Help > About Menu. It's available now from the Android Play Store. I wasn't able to find a direct apn download on opera.com. Users without Play Store access download a copy from WapReview here: Opera Mini_7.5.3.apk (7.5.33361)
Related Post: Opera Mini For Android Updated to Version 7.5.2