When faced with something that’s not a computer, nor a mobile phone, what must a web browser company do to innovate?
It forgets everything, and starts over.
The web has evolved exponentially from drab, grey webpages with blue, linked text to vivid, elegant pages with complex graphics, videos and other interactive information. Yet, so far, the web experience on tablets has been limited to browsers that are either scaled-up versions of mobile browsers or scaled-down desktop browsers. Opera wanted to do something about that.
Enter Coast by Opera, the browser that is so elegant, intuitive and refined that it should have come with the iPad.
This web-browsing app is the result of its designers tossing out 20 years of preconceptions about what a browser should be, locking themselves in a room and not coming out until they had answered the question, “What should a tablet browser be?”
We’ve cracked the code and have now launched a truly outstanding web experience on tablets. This is not a mere mobile browser tweak, nor a scaled-down PC browser. It is something new.
“Websites and apps today invite you to interact in new ways, but browser design for tablets has not pushed to liberate itself from the influence it has experienced from its computer and mobile phone cousins,” says Huib Kleinhout, Head of the Coast project at Opera Software. “On a tablet, browsers felt outdated, and that bothered me. Why? Because we make browsers for a living. We’re passionate about making the internet better.”
The result is a completely designed-for-iPad browser, subtly elegant, made to fit tablet users in every respect. Crafting Coast meant redesigning the complete experience. We focused on how iPad users actually interact with their tablets. Coast is the perfect companion for your iPad, allowing a more relaxing and lean-back browsing experience when you are on the go or just hanging out on the couch.
“I have a background in user experience and am in love with the thoroughly refined iPad, and we wanted to design an app targeting the devices of the future, not the past,” says Kleinhout. Old conventions are out with Coast: there is no URL field at the top of the screen, no back or forward buttons, no tabs and no bookmarks. Yet, it all flows naturally and blends into the use of the iPad.
Innovate and evolve
Tablets are a result of the computer’s evolution, and the web is evolving along with it. For Coast, it’s all about innovating instead of inheriting. Coast was handcrafted with the future web in mind, innovating in every corner of the tablet screen.
“The team behind Coast have truly outdone themselves in this project. Finally we have a browser your iPad deserves. I dare say that this is the best browsing experience on tablets anywhere,” says Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. “Coast started as an initiative from some of our most creative engineers and designers, which quickly turned into something unique and truly awesome. After today, tablet users will expect more from their web experience, and Coast will be the first to deliver.”
When creating Coast, the designers chose to put content, not the browser, front and center on the whole screen. Coast displays webpages the way they deserve to be shown.
Time to un-button
The iPad is nearly buttonless; why shouldn’t the apps for it be? Elements such as back and forward buttons are gone from Coast. All navigation is done by swiping the way you naturally would on an iPad – just like in a good iPad app. A single button takes you to the home screen, and another shows the sites you have recently visited – that’s about it for buttons in Coast.
When using touch-based navigation, small buttons that work on a regular computer don’t work well on a tablet. It’s not about just enlarging already existing elements; it’s about making the design interesting and uncluttered.
Essentials such as website security are handled in the background, with can’t-miss warnings when a suspicious site is accessed and extensive info on site reputation.
Go big or go home
Designing for iPad means rethinking everything. Tablets have a lot of screen real estate, and we thought it was about time to put it to good use. Coast does way more than merely migrating the lessons learned from desktop computers to a tablet.
Check it out for yourself. Grab your iPad and your refreshment of choice, lean back on a nice, comfy couch and discover the unique way of viewing the web with Coast. You’ll be amazed. If you’re at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, drop by the Coast by Opera booth and have a chat with some of the members from the Coast team.
Coast by Opera is available in the Apple App Store today, as a free download.