Opera Mini 5 Beta Available for Google Android

The release of Opera Mini 5 Beta for Google Android follows the March 4 release of Opera Mini 5 Beta for Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x devices. Opera Software says Opera Mini 5 Beta for Google Android includes such features as Speed Dial, tabbed browsing and boosted speed. Although Opera lags behind competitors Google and Microsoft in the traditional browser space, data suggests that it leads in the mobile browser space for smartphones.

Opera Software released a beta of Opera Mini 5, the next version of its mobile Web browser, for Google Android on March 11. The announcement comes exactly a week after Opera announced it would release the same application for Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x smartphones, indicating that the company is committed to maintaining its mobile-browser market share in the face of ever-increasing competition.

Opera Mini 5 Beta for Android includes features such as Speed Dial, tabbed browsing, compression and boosted speed. It can be downloaded from Android Market, the mobile-applications marketplace for Google Android, or from this Opera site.

Opera made similar speed claims for the version released for Windows Mobile devices, saying the application would compress data traffic by up to 90 percent, saving money in the case of devices roaming or locked in a pay-per-usage plan.

"Windows Mobile deserves a mobile browser that looks better, handles better and delivers better than the default browser," Dag Olav Norem, Opera's vice president of products, said in a March 4 statement. "We are pleased to offer the world's most popular mobile Web browser as a native Windows Mobile application."

The latest releases follow February's unveiling of Opera 10.50 for Windows, which the company touts as "the fastest browser ever." That version of the browser includes a Carakan JavaScript engine that supposedly runs applications up to eight times faster than the previous version, and a new Vega graphics library. It also includes private browsing, the ability to use the search engine of choice directly from the address field and, for developers, support for HTML5 and CSS 2.1 and a good portion of CSS 3. Opera is likely hoping that the newest browser will help it claim points from the products currently ahead in traditional browser market share, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

Opera's market-share picture is somewhat rosier, though, when it comes to mobile browsers. Opera has said the Opera Mini mobile browser has around 50 million active users, having hit that mark in January. That number represents a year-over-year increase of 150 percent. Opera Mini is currently the most-used smartphone browser, according to analytics company StatCounter, occupying 24.6 percent of the market in contrast to Apple's Safari browser for the iPhone, with 22.3 percent. If both the iPhone and the iPod Touch are included in those calculations, though, Apple claims a 37.2 percent market share.