Opera has been in the browser business for some time, though they have always trailed other options. Their offerings have always been fast, and they have also had certain distinct features that differentiate their products from that of Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, or Apple.
Coast is something different. It isn’t a traditional web browser — instead, it focuses on the touch interactions offered by a large-screen device like the iPad to remove UI elements like the URL bar, tabs, and other controls.
After spending some time with Coast, Opera has my attention. They are on to something, but I’m not quite sure what it is yet. Coast works great as a browser dedicated to casual browsing. The gestures and swipes make navigation feel effortless. Everything is smooth — it’s obvious that the developers that worked on this value a finished product.
However, it doesn’t work as well as Safari or Chrome when you have a specific website or topic to research in mind. The lack of tabbed browsing means that you have a few more swipes and gestures to perform to go from one browsing session to the next. That’s a problem — I hope that Opera can find a way to fix this issue, as it really is the only problem stopping me from using Coast full-time.
I also hope to see an iPhone version soon. Coast’s simple interface and speedy performance would make it a great fit for the smaller screen, even if several gestures have to be sacrificed due to the lack of screen space.
Opera’s Coast is available on the App Store for free.