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.
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.