When it comes to web browsers, we’ve all grown accustomed to the usual address bar, icons on either side and of course the lingering bookmarks.
The thing is though, as our web experiences have become more and more mobile – the browsers we use haven’t really followed suit. Chrome and Safari for example have been optimised to give us a great ecosystem for multi-device usage – but neither truly excels at mobile browsing and that’s something that Opera has tried to do with Coast for iPad.
A Beautiful Interface
What really makes Coast stand out is the minimalist, immersive and full-screen experience you get when you’re browsing the web. Rather than feeling like you’re visiting a website within a browser– Coast makes you feel like each website has it’s own dedicated app on your iPad. No toolbars and no distractions; just a rich browsing experience.
On the home screen, this app has a strong visual interface that includes tiled website bookmarks as opposed to text, and these bookmarks can be categorised in to various pages, very much like the iOS home screens themselves.
An Emphasis On Touch & Gestures
“Why is there a back button in iPad browsers? The iPad is, after all, designed for touch. You swipe, drag and use gestures to move around.”
Coast’s Project Leader, Huib Kleinhout
You won’t find endless options and drop-down menus in Coast, just two buttons located at the bottom of your screen. One allows you to return to the app’s home screen and the other opens up a multi-window screen that displays the websites you currently have open (very similar to the multi-tasking interface on iOS). Once you’re done with a particular website, swipe that window upwards and it closes.
Even when you’re immersed in a single webpage, going back no longer requires the push of a little button at the top of the browser; instead you simply swipe backwards (or forwards) to navigate. Even the page refresh function has been perfectly designed to work fluidly with iOS – all you have to do is swipe down.
Kleinhout and Opera have made it so that the gestures feel intuitive and fluid to use and for the first time in a while, I felt like browsing the web was actually fun again. Some may argue that Opera hasn’t done anything new, since Microsoft launched a similar thing with Internet Explorer for Windows 8, but I can’t help but feel that Coast is that much better.
It may not include multi-device browsing so that I can use it on my laptop and phone but even so, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for a superior web experience on my iPad. If I have to bookmark my favourite websites all over again – then so be it.