Coast by Opera is a bold attempt at shaking up the browsing experience on tablets. Let’s admit the traditional browsers are not really tailor-made for tablets and Coast by Opera breaks our per-conceived notion of standard browsers by coming up with a minimalistic and laid back approach to browsing while shedding away much of the bells and whistles of traditional browsers we are used to. Unfortunately, its made only for iPad as of now. How I wish it also existed for Android. If you are iPad user there is yet another reason to say ‘Android envy’s iPad’s pride’.
When Mrunmaiy Abroal,Corporate Communication Head at Opera Software for India chose a poolside table for demonstrating the Coast by Opera for me, its not for no reason. It reflected how most of us use tablets for browsing.
While the Internet has transformed phenomenally along with the medium with which we access it from bulky computer to portable laptop to touch-screen smartphones and tablets, the web browsers looks largely more or the same. While on tablet, the way we mostly interact is vastly different and most likely to be a leisure browsing. Opera feels it’s Coast can be the answer for the ‘true immersive browsing experience’.
Opting for a clean, lean look and dumping features like bookmarks, back and front buttons and tabs, Coast re-imagines browser and optimizes it for touch.
What is conspicously missing is the standard URL address bar. Instead there is just a search bar on Coast’s home screen. As you type, Coast offers autocomplete suggestions via Google or let you search for your term on Google itself, and it will present a handful of clickable tiles for websites it thinks you may want to visit.
Talking of tiles, Coasts reinvents the browser into an home-screen app template. The ‘ homescreen’ of the browser can have a grid of 3×3 or 3×4 tiles where you can list your favourite websites. The tiles picks a default image from the website and list them as neat square.
Additionally, Coast creates a different icon from each website you visit, adding it to a stack at the bottom on the home screen. These icons can be dragged up and placed in the grid.
Why need a back or forward buttons when you can simply swipe to the right or left. Smart and sweet. Taking the clean look seriously, Coast hides the page-sharing features under an icon on the bottom right of the screen. Also, while browsing, a tap and hold on any link presents a trio of options for Open, Copy, and Share, which bend ever so slightly around selected text. The third button offers a way to share links via Facebook, Twitter, iMessage, or email, but a print option is also available while navigating open pages.
I was not too impressed by the default city-at-night background but luckily Coast gives us the option to change the background. So while browsing, if you come across any image you like, you can tap and open the option to turn the image to be the new background. Still, I feel the default background is shame for an otherwise elegant browser app.
The bottom line, Coast by Opera leaves out many of the conventional features to dustbin. With minimal distractions, it offers a fresh, enjoyable browsing experience which you will probably love when you have all the time at your disposal and you are in a very laidback, casual mode making best of swipe-based, intuitive gestures.