Opera Ice makes mobile web browsing ultra-minimalistic

This week the folks at Opera Software have given the world a glimpse of their next big (and yet tiny) production: Opera Ice, a mobile web browser to out-simplify every competitor. The mobile version of this browser is the first in a set of browsers that'll also be out for desktop machines and – if you're lucky – in-between machines as well. The aim of this browser is to take what Opera has learned over the past few years about the tendencies of the public to do only a limited number of tasks in a web browser on a mobile device and turn those tendencies into efficiency.

What you're going to be seeing here is a demonstration filmed by Opera in their own den of developers and passed on to the folks at Pocket Lint. The demonstration of this Webkit-based browsser is done on an iPad, but the Opera team promises it'll be revealed for iOS, Android, and desktop machines in the near future. It is at Mobile World Congress 2013 that we'll get our chance to work with the mobile version first – tablets and smartphones all at once.

The first major difference between this web browser and the whole rest of the universe is the ability to swipe back and forth instead of tapping or clicking back and forward buttons. While we've got similar functionality with gestures in some environments, no browser until now takes out the buttons from the onset – Opera is confident that you'll get used to swiping right out of the box.

This environment uses a collection of apps (or shortcuts to webpages) right at the start not unlike Chrome and Chrome OS. One big difference is the tiny bar at the bottom of your page wherever you roam inside an app, this button bringing you back out to the main collection of apps. At the moment we're not sure if this button is meant to remain in every app or if it's just being used as a demonstration.

You'll be working with a set of apps right from the outset, searching then for additional apps with the front and center search bar at the top of your display when you want more. Searching brings up a "visual experience" not unlike instantly appearing app icons, but here you're seeing sized-down previews of webpages the same aspect ratio as the iPad (or perhaps whatever device you happen to be using.) Each of these icons leads to a webpage or, eventually, an app associated with a webpage.

Once you've visited a webpage this way and you want to back out, you hit the bar at the bottom of the page and it'll minimize, turning then into an icon which you can then add to your collection. Simple and smooth! Can't wait to see the real deal up close and personal at Barcelona's own MWC 2013!