Unlike the on-board browser, Opera Mini is a Java ME-based browser that works by rendering pages on an Opera server, and the data is then sent to the handset. This is designed to ease the connectivity demands of the phone to provide faster access to the Internet no matter what devices or network speed the user has.
Opera Mini for Android has a host of improvements over the beta version that was released late last year. The finalized version enables users to access an SD card for uploading, downloading, and saving pages and to double tap to zoom in and out of pages. The browser also can hand off video playback to the operating system, and Opera has fixed problems with the "back" function.
"Our support of the Android platform helps fulfill our mission to be available on more platforms, for more devices, and reach more users, anywhere in the world," Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner said in a statement.
Opera Mini continues to grow, and the company said there were 21 million unique Mini users in October, a 490% increase from the year before. Many users are drawn to the browser because it's available on a wide variety of handsets, including Java-enabled handsets, Windows Mobile devices, and BlackBerry handsets. The browser can be downloaded onto Android devices from the Android Market.
But don't look for an Opera browser on Apple's iPhone 3G any time soon because Apple has been wary of allowing programs in the App Store that duplicate existing functionality. Although it has allowed a few third-party browsers in, these merely use a different user interface on top of the iPhone's WebKit rendering engine.