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Opera launches 'Coast,' a new Web browser for Apple's iPad

Opera Software on Monday released a new WebKit-based web browser for Apple's iOS dubbed "Coast," which the company calls the "browser your iPad deserves."

Norwegian browser vendor Opera's newest entry into the tablet browser market represents a significant departure from the company's past efforts in both its interaction model and architecture. Huib Kleinhout, head of the Coast project, said that Opera designed the new browser to target "the devices of the future, not the past."

The browser features a primarily gesture-based user interface with minimal application chrome. There is no title bar, and the address and search fields are normally hidden from view. They can be revealed by a downward swipe.

A small "home" button that returns the user to a desktop Safari-like grid of the user's most visited websites and a "most recent" button that displays the user's recent browsing history are the only persistent interface elements. Navigating backward and forward is done by swiping in the appropriate direction.

Unlike previous efforts by Opera that utilized the company's in-house layout rendering engines, the new browser is built atop Apple's WebKit. Opera previously announced that they would be switching to Google's Blink fork of WebKit for desktop browsers, but Apple requires all browsers distributed through the iOS App Store to use Cupertino's built-in rendering engine.

Coast appears to be the final realization of the company's "Opera Ice" technical demonstration that was revealed in January of this year. At the time, Opera CEO Lars Boilesen was quoted as saying that Opera needs "to focus on getting strong products out on iOS and Android," though there is no word on when - or if - coast will make its way to Google's platform.