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Apple approves Opera Mini app for iPhone

Opera has announced Apple's approval of the company's Opera Mini browser in the iPhone App Store.

The new browser should become available in the App Store within the next day, and will be a free download. It will work on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad as a classic app that can be pixel doubled.

Opera submitted the app March 23, and observers have waited to see whether Apple would ultimately approve or deny the alternative web browser.

Back in October 2008, Opera co-founder Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner told the New York Times that his company had ported the Mini browser to the iPhone, but had assumed that it would not be approved because of Apple's policies.

Mozilla, the developer of Firefox, had similarly complained that Apple would probably not approve of its alternative web browser on the iPhone, so it simply did not try to submit one.

The Mini in Opera Mini

Opera Mini is unique both in that it does not use the WebKit browser engine, and that it uses a proxy compression scheme to greatly reduce web traffic. All the pages a user browses in Opera Mini are relayed through Opera's servers, which reduce the size of content by as much as 90%.

This design results in speedy browsing, which is specifically useful to mobile users with limited network access. Opera Mini claims page loading speeds up to six times faster than Apple's Mobile Safari when using a mobile 3G network. However, the features also bypasses SSL security, making it undesirable for accessing banking information.

Opera Mini also offers other features Safari doesn't, including the ability to search the contents of web pages. It does not include a pinch to zoom feature, which is something that Apple has insisted on reserving for its own bundled apps.

In a press release, Opera chief executive Lars Boilesen said, "We are delighted to offer iPhone and iPod touch users a great browsing experience with the Opera Mini app. This app is another step toward Opera's goal of bringing the Web to more people in more places."