Opera Mini 5 for Android G1

Over the last two and a half weeks, I have packed up and cleaned out my old house and finished the move to Virginia Beach, Va., where spring is well under way. I’m ready to start paying attention to tech again.

Yesterday, I was mucking about in the Android Marketplace and discovered that Opera Mini 5 Beta was available for download, so I downloaded it immediately. It is much better that Mini 4 for , which I understand from the Opera newsgroups was as much a proof-of-concept version as anything else.

The new version includes tabbed browsing (which Opera invented) adapted to a mobile device, improved bookmark and settings management as compared to v. 4, and better responsiveness to the touch screen.

When you start Opera Mini, it opens the Speed Dial; the illustration shows my Speed Dial after I deleted the default items and started configuring it to my liking:

The menu at the bottom of the screen includes the following:

  • The left and right arrows allow navigation to next and previous tabs.
  • The circular arrow in the center means “reload the page”; while a page is loading, it turns into an “X” for “stop.”
  • The overlapping pages icon second from the right displays a menu of open tabs so you can jump directly to a different tab.
  • The wrench opens the “tools” menu.

Here is the tabs menu:

When it’s opened, an “X” will display in the upper right corner of the tab that is currently in focus. Tapping the X closes that tab. Tapping any of the other open tabs jumps to that tab. Tapping the tabs menu icon or the open page closes the menu.

You can open a page to the Speed Dial by tapping an item. To add an item, hold your finger on a blank spot until the “Add” dialog appears. Tapping add allows you to type in a URL or select from a list of recently-opened pages. In playing with it yesterday, it seemed to me that the updating of the list of recently-opened pages was a little slow.

To delete or change an existing item, hold your finger on the item until the “Clear/Edit” menu appears, then select the desired action.

The tools menu looks like this:

Here is the bookmarks display:

When you first open it, “Manage” appears in the dialog box in the bottom left; tapping “Manage” displays “New Folder” in the dialog box and places a trash can next to each item, as shown in the picture. Tapping “New Folder” displays a dialog and software keypad for naming the new folder. (Note: If the hardware keyboard is open, the software keyboard does not display.) You can see by the names of my folders some of my tastes in browsing.

Here is the “Settings” menu (the “Advanced” item at the bottom of the menu is scrolled below the screen):

Note that I have “Opera Link” on. I didn’t used to use it, but, these days, I’m hopping back and forth among my laptop, my netbook, a desktop, and the , so I turned it on the sync my bookmarks.

And here is the “Privacy” submenu:

You can type a URL into the address bar at the top of the screen. Opera will offer auto-completion items which you can select by tapping. This was the first time I visited Geekazine in Opera Mini 5 Beta, so it gave me a choice of dot something or others. The next time, I typed the letter “g” and the list of choices included “geekazine dot com.”

If you have more than one search engine configured, you can drag down on search window at the top right of the screen and choose a different search engine from the list.

The trackball works wherever tapping does, but tapping is much improved in v. 5 Beta. In v. 4, I frequently found myself using the trackball because tapping was not effective; I have rarely used the trackball in v. 5 Beta except at websites where links are so close together that selecting one with my big fat finger is difficult.

Here is a picture of the phone rotated with the hardware keyboard open:

Here is a short video showing navigation of Opera Mini 5 Beta (AVI 18 MB). It’s not very good–I am not a cinematographer and I don’t have a proper AV lab, but, if you are interested, it should give you a sense of what using Opera Mini 5 Beta is like. (You will notice a couple of breaks where I cobbled three videos together to make this one.)

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