Sep 16 2013

Opera Builds a Web Browser for Tablets

The new Coast browser offers a web browsing experience that puts tablets first.

As the transition to a mobile-first computing world marches on, many companies and experts tout a mobile-first mindset. But in many ways, the tools and user interfaces that mobile devices operate on are really mobile-second.

And the web browser is a perfect example of just how desktop influenced mobile user interfaces still are. While it’s true that the browser has been touch-enabled, the URL bar and all of the menus are still clearly meant for mouse-and-click interactions.

Sensing an opportunity to reinvent the web experience for the tablet, Opera took on the challenge of building a tablet-focused web browser with Coast, an iPad app that users can download to experience the web in a mobile-friendly way.

Huib Kleinhout, the designer behind Coast, spoke with PSFK about he and the Opera team’s thought processes behind reimagining the web browser for tablets.

This frustration with the old baggage of desktop browsers was a driving point in Kleinhout’s decision making:

The user experience today is so focused on this old technology. The fact that the user has tabs and bookmarks and Internet addresses — all these technical details are not important takes away from the overall browsing experience. The only thing the user want to do is to check his or her Facebook status, or check the weather, or see what’s on TV. The user is not interested in managing technology. We have solved all that by putting technology in the background.

I think that from a designer’s point of view the biggest achievement that you can have when tackling an already existing product is to make it simpler.

Kleinhout elaborated a little more in this official video from Opera.

This video review from Today's iPhone should give you a good overview of what Coast is and how it works on the iPad.

Do you think a tablet-optimized web browser is long overdue? Let us know in the Comments.