Opera mini on desktop

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More Mobile/Opera related page here: Category:Mobile

During a recent trip to Zambia, I was very impressed with how easily Opera Mini worked on my Sony Ericsson W810i phone. Opera mini is a cool mobile phone browser, not least because traffic goes via a (proxy) server at opera to reduce page sizes. Most of the time web pages coming through opera mini are about 20-40KB, which is nicely in line with recommendations. Also, Opera Mini can synchronise information with Opera on your desktop, so it's a quick way of getting useful links on and off your phone.

This made me think that it would be cool if the standard opera browser could somehow work in low-bandwidth mode, by sending traffic via the same proxy server. Unfortunately, this functionality doesn't seem to be built into Opera (although there is a low bandwidth email mode in Opera 9, see here). (Addendum, April 2009: Opera Turbo brings compression technology to the desktop.)

However, it is possible to run opera mini as a desktop application, see here http://my.opera.com/larskl/blog/2008/03/29/opera-mini-in-1280-1024?cid=4986133. Essentially this means having a mobile phone like browser (i.e. a slightly simpler browser, than handles differently from a normal web browser), in return for much optimised browsing.

To install Opera mini on your desktop, you need to do this:

  • Download the files you need. Basically you need to download the latest release of microemu, http://microemu.org/, as well as download the Opera Mini .jar and .jad files from http://operamini.com.
  • To get started, run the "microemulator.jar" (either double click or go the command line and run "java -jar microemulator.jar"). You'll see a phone mockup, and the screen says "Launcher / no midlets".
  • Select "File", then "Open JAD". Choose the opera mini jad file downloaded earlier (e.g. "opera-mini-4.2.13337-advanced-en-gb.jad"). The screen now says "Launcher / Opera mini" with "Opera mini" highlighted. Click start.
  • You now have Opera mini running on your desktop. This is already pretty cool for trying out opera mini. Of course, there is always the simulator, so that we've done so far is really just to run the similator locally. However, now the fun starts.
  • Within microemu, go to "Options" and the "Select device". In the dialog box, click "Add" and select (e.g. for the 2.0.3 release) "microemulator-2.0.3/devices/microemu-device-resizable.jar" from the downloaded microemu package.
  • Back in the "Select device list", you then select the "resizable device" you have just added and click OK. (Or click "set as default" first). (Microemu offered to restart, but Opera seemed to crash during reload, so you might have to start from the beginning, selecting the "Resizable device first".)

You should now be able to resize the window and enjoy opera mini in a larger screen. Note that if you make the device large enough, opera mini will adapt it's layout, so that you have read web pages without needing to zoom, as you need to do on small deviced. However, the page loading is the same as it's on a mobile phone, and it's very fast.

Unfortunately there are also some issues, and you can read more in the discussion here http://my.opera.com/larskl/blog/2008/03/29/opera-mini-in-1280-1024?cid=4986133.

(For instance, when using the resizable device, the two 'mobile' buttons cannot be used, and thus you cannot navigate away from text boxes provided by the mobile. If you choose one of the other devices, this all works.) UPDATE: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies-archive.cfm/1138294.html mentiones that F1 and F2 work to emulate left and right "soft" buttons. The forum states that this works for Windows, and it works for Mac also.

Overall, it would be great if opera built those low bandwidth features into desktop opera too! (Opera 9 does have a low bandwidth email mode, and also, on the right of the bottom bar, an image selector for: load images, cached images only, no images.)

You may also want to have a look at this: Client side bandwidth optimisation

More links:

News:

  • March 2009: Opera compression technology comes to the Desktop, see Opera Turbo