Coast by Opera is a truly innovative new Web browser designed exclusively for the iPad. It features swipe-gesture controls, which its developers contend allows you to focus on the web, not how you navigate it…a claim that is open to debate.
“Why is there a back button in iPad browsers?” Opera queries. “The iPad is, after all, designed for touch. You swipe, drag and use gestures to move around. Websites and apps today invite you to interact in new ways, but browsers have been stuck in a keyboard-and-mouse world. They felt outdated, and that bothered us. Why? Because we make browsers for a living. We are passionate about making the internet better.” I agree with the objective, and Opera has certainly broken new ground with Coast.
They thought they could do better. A lot better, which meant rethinking what a browser should be, and say they saw a great opportunity to build something from scratch. The result is Coast, a completely new browser, made simple and elegant and designed exclusively for the iPad. Opera says every design element in Coast has been carefully crafted for iPad. It’s not just a mobile interface scaled up to fit a touchscreen, and there’s a lot of stuff you don’t see—technology that works under the hood, keeping you safe and secure.
Powerful, Different, Visual Search
Coast by Opera has no conventional Bookmarks menu, the function of which has been replaced with iOS home screen type icons. You can easily add or delete icons without leaving the page. New icons show up at the bottom sector of the screen as pages are are visited. You can drag them to the upper sector to make them bookmarks.
You can tap-and-hold to rearrange icons, and create an unlimited number of multiple icon “pages” to organize groups or sets of bookmarks, although each set can have a maximum of 12 icons. To delete an icon, just drag it to the top area of the screen.
There’s no also Return button—just swipe back to where you were. On the home screen is an omnibar field where you can type or paste URLs, or enter search keywords. Three possible results are displayed as you type, and a thumbnail of a Google search page appears in which the text you’re typing is entered in the Google search field, and there are shortcut buttons for .com and .net to speed up typing URLs.
To return from open Web pages to the home screen, tap the small grid icon at the bottom center of the screen. Pages stay open and update silently in the background. You can easily swipe between sites and stay on top of their latest updates. To toggle between most recently visited sites, tap the three bar button at the bottom right. You can press and hold images to summon a dialog with options to copy, share save or set a background image.
I’ve been using Coast for several days now, and it does take some getting used to. It really is different from any other browser in a constellation of ways that span a range from great to not so hot. What I like most about Coast is its elegant simplicity. It reminds me in a way of the iPad itself in that regard. It’s also the prettiest Web browser I’ve used on any platform, and satisfyingly speedy.
Things I don’t like include no progress bar for page loads, and especially that there is no provision (at least that I can find) to view and copy the URL for the page you’re on, which renders Coast essentially useless for doing research. You can also have only seven different Web pages open at a time, and when you want to open a new page, you must return to the home screen and enter a new auto or search to open a new window.
Consequently, Coast is not going to become a workhorse browser for me in the same way that Safari, Chrome, and Sleipnir serve. However, for simple Web surfing or one-off quick lookups, I’m already finding it my default choice, so it’s going to become part of my core app suite on the iPad.
I’ll give Coast by Opera a 5 out of 5 for elegance of execution and aesthetic appeal, a 3 out of 5 for feel and ease/convenience of use, but only a 2 out of 5 for practical general do-all utility.
Download the Coast by Opera Web browser
Seller: Opera Software ASA
Requirements: iOS 6.0 or later
File Size: 14.8MB
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Age Rating: 17+ (because of the naughty stuff you can find on the Internet)