Opera Previews Mobile Browser for Google Android

Opera on Thursday added Google's Android to the list of platforms that can run its mobile browser.

Opera released a technical preview of its Opera Mini browser for Google's mobile OS and middleware on its Web site, the company said Thursday. The company also released a software development kit for the platform.

Developers can test the browser and share feedback about it that will be considered before Opera releases a beta version, which it will do once it collects feedback from the community.

In a company blog posting, Opera's Developer Relationship Manager Chris Mills explained why the company decided to create a version of its mobile browser for Android and the particulars and challenges of writing the code.

According to the post, Opera considered the "cool factor" in providing a browser for Google's much-ballyhooed mobile platform, but also wanted to give users and developers the broadest possible choice for deploying its browser.

Because Android is so new and there is not yet hardware available for it, however, Opera developers ran into some challenges in creating the software, he said.

Mills said that because the platform is comprised of "a very fresh set of APIs," there is not much information available on the Web about it, and the community, while helpful, is still in its nascent stage of developing. "Sometimes it is difficult to find an answer if something during development is not going very well and you have questions," he wrote.

Not having access to hardware that will run the platform makes it "impossible to say how fast Opera Mini will run on real devices," Mills added.

Google introduced Android last November; it includes a mobile OS, middleware and applications for mobile devices. So far HTC, Motorola, Samsung and LG are among handset providers that have committed to building devices for Android, and Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and AT&T are among the carriers who will offer service on Android handsets.

According to Opera, more than 40 million people use Opera Mini. Other mobile platforms that can run the browser include Symbian OS, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, BlackBerry OS, Samsung's SHP and Motorola's P2K.

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