Opera Mini, the little brother to Opera’s regular mobile browser, is getting a major makeover on Android today. The company says the new design, which is pretty much in line with the regular Opera mobile browser, is meant to give the browser a more native look and feel.
If you’re confused about why Opera offers both its regular mobile browser and Opera Mini on Android, you’re probably not alone. The major difference between the two is that Opera Mini features an always-on data saving mode that compresses data very aggressively. For the most part, Opera Mini manages to do so without breaking the layout of most sites, but sites will look a little bit sparser than usual because Opera’s proxies strips out some design elements and web fonts to save bandwidth. The regular Opera browser for Android also features a similar “turbo” mode, but it’s quite a bit more conservative in its approach.
Opera Mini, the company says, can compress sites to up to 10 percent of their original size. I used the latest beta of Opera Mini — which has now become the stable release — for a while today and the browser tells me my data savings were 88%.
The new Android version also features a redesigned Speed Dial, support for private browsing and the ability to customize the browser’s layout for what Opera describes as “more thumb-friendly surfing” (though as far as I can see, this only means you can choose between three different layout modes). The browser now also features Opera’s Discover feed, which highlights popular stories around the web.
Opera CEO Lars Boilesen says he aims to bring Opera’s reach on Android to 275 million users by 2017, up from about 130 million today. That’s pretty aggressive, especially given the competition from Chrome, which also recently added a similar data saving mode.