Opera unveils Coast, a new web browser purpose-built for iPad and iPad mini

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Michael Gorman
September 9, 2013 9:00 AM
In this article: browser, coast, ipad, ipadmini, opera, webbrowser
Opera unveils Coast, a new web browser purpose-built for iPad and iPad mini

Opera's no stranger to the mobile web, as it's been building browsers for phones and tablets for years. Today, however, it's revealing an all-new window to the web called Coast. Coast's been constructed specifically for the iPad and seeks to make browsing the internet feel the same as using an app. What's that mean? Well, for starters, a series of swipe-able home screens and a tile-based UI that makes all your favorite websites look like icons. Also, Coast wholly does away with browser chrome, instead showing just content, with only small home and history buttons residing beneath whatever page you're viewing. Navigation forward and back's accomplished by swiping, and a customizable search bar sits atop your favorites. Essentially, Coast aims to be simple to use and to deliver web content in an unobtrusive, elegant way.

When launched, Coast shows you a tiled grid of favorites, and you can set the number of tiles you see per screen (the default is nine). Adding a new site's as easy as dragging and dropping it onto one of the home screens. Upon returning to home from a site, the icon tile of that last-visited page shows up beneath your favorites, so you can make it stick around permanently by sliding it up to join your other bookmarks. Coast also takes a page from the webOS playbook by providing your browsing history as a series of panes that are tapped for access or swiped upwards to be deleted. And, Opera has, of course, thought to secure the browser, too. Coast is backed by a security engine that constantly consults an online database of unsafe sites -- stray into a nasty corner of the internet, and Coast strings police tape across the page and warns you of the danger. You can also view the security and reputation of any given site by tapping the history button, then swiping down from the bottom of the webpage to reveal such info. Want to know how Coast came to be? Join us after the break to find out.

Gallery: Opera Coast browser for iPad | 7 Photos


Opera unveils Coast, a new web browser purposebuilt for iPad and iPad mini

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Coast began as a pet project of Opera Project Manager Huib Kleinhout. Kleinhout has worked at Opera for seven years, and in his time with the company, he saw that existing browsers were too cluttered with chrome and buttons. Plus, they didn't feel like they were built for the modern web nor tailored to the tablet form factor. As the iPad grew in popularity, Kleinhout became determined to build a mobile browser that could take full advantage of its touch-based UI and large screen. It took Kleinhout and a team of 15 designers and engineers to get it done, but Coast is now complete and ready for public consumption. So, if you're an iPad or iPad mini owner, head on over to the App Store and start Coasting, not surfing, the world wide web.

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Coast by Opera – iPad gets the browser it deserves
San Francisco and Oslo, Norway – September 9, 2013
When faced with something that's not a computer, nor a mobile phone, what must a web browser
company do to innovate? It forgets everything, and starts over.

The web has evolved exponentially from drab, grey webpages with blue, linked text to vivid, elegant pages with complex graphics, videos and other interactive information. Yet, so far, the web experience on tablets has been limited to browsers that are either scaled-up versions of mobile browsers or scaled-down desktop browsers. Opera wanted to do something about that.

Enter Coast by Opera, the browser that is so elegant, intuitive and refined that it should have come with the iPad. This web-browsing app is the result of its designers tossing out 20 years of preconceptions about what a browser should be, locking themselves in a room and not coming out until they had answered the question, "What should a tablet browser be?"

We've cracked the code and have now launched a truly outstanding web experience on tablets. This is not a mere mobile browser tweak, nor a scaled-down PC browser. It is something new. "Websites and apps today invite you to interact in new ways, but browser design for tablets has not
pushed to liberate itself from the influence it has experienced from its computer and mobile phone cousins," says Huib Kleinhout, Head of the Coast project at Opera Software. "On a tablet, browsers felt outdated, and that bothered me. Why? Because we make browsers for a living. We're passionate about making the internet better."

The result is a completely designed-for-iPad browser, subtly elegant, made to fit tablet users in every respect. Crafting Coast meant redesigning the complete experience. We focused on how iPad users actually interact with their tablets. Coast is the perfect companion for your iPad, allowing a more relaxing and lean-back browsing experience when you are on the go or just hanging out on the couch. "I have a background in user experience and am in love with the thoroughly refined iPad, and we wanted to design an app targeting the devices of the future, not the past," says Kleinhout.

Old conventions are out with Coast: there is no URL field at the top of the screen, no back or forward buttons, no tabs and no bookmarks. Yet, it all flows naturally and blends into the use of the iPad.

Innovate and evolve

Tablets are a result of the computer's evolution, and the web is evolving along with it. For Coast, it's all about innovating instead of inheriting. Coast was handcrafted with the future web in mind, innovating in every corner of the tablet screen. "The team behind Coast have truly outdone themselves in this project. Finally we have a browser your iPad deserves. I dare say that this is the best browsing experience on tablets anywhere," says Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. "Coast started as an initiative from some of our most creative engineers
and designers, which quickly turned into something unique and truly awesome. After today, tablet users will expect more from their web experience, and Coast will be the first to deliver."

Content first

When creating Coast, the designers chose to put content, not the browser, front and center on the whole screen. Coast displays webpages the way they deserve to be shown.

Time to un-button

The iPad is nearly buttonless; why shouldn't the apps for it be? Elements such as back and forward buttons are gone from Coast. All navigation is done by swiping the way you naturally would on an iPad – just like in a good iPad app. A single button takes you to the home screen, and another shows the sites you have recently visited – that's about it for buttons in Coast.
When using touch-based navigation, small buttons that work on a regular computer don't work well on a tablet. It's not about just enlarging already existing elements; it's about making the design interesting and uncluttered. Essentials such as website security are handled in the background, with can't-miss warnings when a suspicious site is accessed and extensive info on site reputation.

Go big or go home

Designing for iPad means rethinking everything. Tablets have a lot of screen real estate, and we thought it was about time to put it to good use. Coast does way more than merely migrating the lessons learned from desktop computers to a tablet. Check it out for yourself. Grab your iPad and your refreshment of choice, lean back on a nice, comfy couch and discover the unique way of viewing the web with Coast. You'll be amazed. If you're at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, drop by the Coast by Opera booth and have a chat with some of the members from the Coast team.

Coast by Opera is available in the Apple App Store today, as a free download

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