We admit it: when we first heard that Opera was creating a browser for iPhone, we wondered if the browser company was bluffing to prove a point, namely, to pressure Apple into accepting a browser to compete with Safari. Yet Opera followed through on Tuesday, submitting Opera Mini 5 to the iPhone App Store. Before Opera submitted, we got a chance to play with the final version of Opera Mini on one of Opera's iPhones.
Opera Mini 5 running on an iPhone looks and behaves almost identically to Opera Mini 5 on other mobile browsers, like Java and BlackBerry. The one major exception is the addition of session restore for iPhone, which will reload browsers from the previous session if you need to close and restart the browser. This is an important feature for a platform that runs only one third-party application at a time. Page caching was also notable on the demo version of Opera Mini for iPhone. Pressing the back arrow quickly surfaced the previous page without reloading it from scratch.
As interesting as these details might be, the real elephant in the room--the question perhaps being asked by those who follow Apple's submissions and rejections--is why Opera would go to lengths to submit a browser that has a high chance of never making it into the app store. Apple isn't known for approving browsers that aren't based on Webkit, which Opera Mini absolutely is not. Like many other iPhone apps, Opera wrote the back end of Mini using the Objective C programming language, Opera's founder and former CEO Jon von Tetzchner told CNET, and developed the front end "in our own little language." … Read more