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Apple Approves Opera Browser For iPhone

Apple has approved Opera Software's Mini mobile Web browser for the iPhone and iPod Touch and will offer the application on the App Store.

Opera made the announcement Monday, saying the Mini would be available within 24 hours for free. Reviewers have praised the browser for its speed in loading Web pages.

"We are delighted to offer iPhone and iPod touch users a great browsing experience with the Opera Mini App," Lars Boilesen, chief executive of Opera, said in a statement. "This app is another step toward Opera's goal of bringing the Web to more people in more places."

In submitting the iPhone version of the Mini to Apple last month, Opera had argued that it should be approved in order to give users of the smartphone a faster option to Apple's native Safari. Opera showed how much faster the Mini was then Safari in February during demonstrations at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Mini in later tests has also been shown to be faster than the native browser on Google's Android platform.

The Mini's speed is due to its use of a proxy server. Run by Opera, the server first compresses and reformats Web pages before sending them to the Mini. A hands-on review by InformationWeek found that Mini "beats the pants off iPhone's Safari browser by a wide margin."

However, Opera's software doesn't beat Safari in all features. The browser does not offer pinch-to-zoom like Safari. Instead, the browser zooms in and out by double-tapping the iPhone screen. Opera claims it can't offer pinch-to-zoom because of limitations imposed by Apple on its software development kit.

Among the best features in Opera is the tabs tool that shows open tabs along the bottom in what looks like a deck of cards. A user can shuffle through the open tabs without leaving a Web page.

The company claims the browser has been installed onto more than 50 million mobile phones worldwide.