How did they do it: Opera Mini on iPhone

12 Apr

Apple’s inclusion of Opera Mini 5 browser in their App Store is raising quite a few eyebrows. When Opera Software had announced last month that they had submitted Opera Mini 5 for iPhone to the App Store and waiting for Apple’s stamp of approval, many industry observers (Yours Truly included) perceived them as being arrogant and the whole excercise to be a PR stunt. How wrong we were…

But Apple doesn’t allow third party web browsers on its platform. App Store’s rules only allow those browsers that use the same Webkit renderings as the Safari browser and doesn’t allow developers to tweak the code. In other words, those are nothing more than browser skins. But Opera Mini certainly does things differently than Safari and at a faster clip too. So how did they do it? This is what we think probably must have happened.

We all know that Opera Mini has a server in between that compresses and resizes pages to suit the cellphone screen. Basically what happens is you enter a URL, Opera’s server fetches it, compresses it and then serves it to the phone. Which means that all the code execution and scripting happens on the server in between the World Wide Web. The server then sends a single static page, which shows up on the screen. In other words, Opera Mini doesn’t break any of Apple’s rules and hence, can be made available on the App Store.

Now it makes us wonder, if that was the case all along, then why didn’t Opera submit the app much earlier? This also answers why Opera submitted the Mini version of their browser and not the full-fledged version called Opera Mobile.

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