Coast is a new designed-for-iPad browser from Opera. Videep Vijay Kumar has the details
The iPad is a great tablet, but does it have the browser it deserves in Safari? Opera Software, the guys who’ve been designing browsers for around 20 years, now don’t think so. But it’s not their main product Opera that’s throwing down the gauntlet to Apple. Instead, the challenge comes from Coast, a browser that has been designed from the ground up with the iPad in mind — complete with swipe controls and clean, clutter-free UI that is quite refreshing.
Easy on the eye
The browser weighs in at around 15 MB, which means you’re less than a minute away from firing it up once you tap the “download” button. On start you’re greeted with a quick video that walks you through the basic features, but what looks like limited functionality initially will reveal itself to be an incredibly quick and easy way to consume web content. The design itself feels influenced by apps and modern design principles rather than regular browser conventions. This is very apparent in Coast’s home screen, which is just a collection of tiles — webpage icons which Opera Software have taken the liberty of bookmarking on your behalf. Don’t like something? Just hold down on the tile, drag it to the top of the screen and it’s gone.
Another striking feature of the home screen is the lack of a traditional address/URL bar, which instead is replaced by a search bar that doubles as an address bar. As you access and discover new web content (which you will find yourself browsing exclusively in full-screen mode), you will be able to bookmark it by simply dragging and dropping — new pages “stack” at the bottom of the home screen, and can be saved as tiles. The tiles interestingly are the busiest elements in the otherwise modern-and-minimalist visual aesthetic of Coast.
Effectively, there are only two navigation icons on screen. One takes you to the home screen of Coast, while the other lets you access open tabs, which, incidentally, exist only as web page instances which can be closed with an upward swipe (both icons are unobtrusively tucked away at the bottom of the screen). Needless to say, closing tabs is a breeze, while swipe functions come into play when accessing pages as well. Swiping back and forward when on a page gets you the desired results sans buttons (moving backward and forward as you might expect), while swiping downwards on the tabs screen gives you the security rating of a particular page. Hold down on a particular word, link or image on screen and Coast will give you the option to open, copy or share — all without having to tap a bunch of menu icons needlessly. On the tabs page, there’s a nifty little share icon that lets you spam your friends and loved ones with stuff they’re not necessarily interested in as well. If there’s one complaint about the simplistic design, it’s that there’s no way of typing in a specific URL, but you’re only probably going to do that once a year on an iPad anyway.
While you wait for the inevitable release of iOS 7 and a gesture-filled Safari experience, Coast is a browser that you should be downloading if you’ve got an iPad or iPad mini. It’s tailor-made for those devices, it’s free, and while not a significant improvement per se over the alternatives, it makes consuming web content a simpler and more intuitive experience.