Opera arguably reinvented the mobile browser with the original release of Opera Mini. The innovation of Opera Mini was to be able to fit four quarts into a one pint jug. By putting most of the guts of the browser into a smart proxy layer, they were able to create a smart browser that could be downloaded and installed on most phones, not just so-called smart phones.
Opera’s new Mini, announced this week, isn’t just an incremental upgrade. The new Opera Mini plugs directly in to the phone camera to allow photo blogging directly from within the browser environment. See here for an example of this (Charles McCathieNevile snapped this at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting here in Tokyo – I think he got my good side).
So why is this revolutionary? Of course, it allows users to bypass MMS and other operator-sanctioned photo sharing mechanisms, but that’s no big news. Other downloadable applications have enabled photo upload and mobile blogging, but in integrating this function into the browser, Opera has turned Mini into a read/write application. The browser, traditionally the tool used to consume information, becomes a sophisticated content creation mechanism as well. Users who otherwise might not go through the trouble to download and install a photo blogging application will suddenly find they have this capability.
Of course, desktop browser users already enjoy this kind of capability through Ajax applications and browser plug-ins but these capabilities have not been present on the mobile platform. And by the way, photo blogging isn’t the only new feature. The new Mini also allows users to directly access RSS feeds and enables secure Web site access.