Norwegian software company Opera Software ASA has released a brand-new WebKit-based browser named Coast for the iPad. The browser, which comes with the tagline "the browser that should have come with the iPad", is the product of one and a half years of software development at the company's headquarters in Oslo.
Coast is Opera's attempt to build a browser actually optimized for a touchscreen interface, such as the one on the iPad, and dispenses away with the traditional toolbar seen in most internet browsers. Instead, users swipe back and forth to navigate between pages and, in order to keep the interface as clean as possible and to help users focus on the web page they are currently viewing, the URL box is missing. There are no tabs for individual pages; users can switch back and forth using thumbnails, much like switching applications in iOS 7, and close down pages by swiping upwards.
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.
The home screen of Coast displays a number of common websites, such as YouTube, Google+ and Vice, which can be shuffled around and deleted if necessary. Commonly-viewed pages will also start appearing over time. Unlike Opera's previous browser, Opera Mini, Coast now relies on WebKit, the default engine built into iOS to render pages, rather than its own. The project is simply an attempt by Opera to try and redesign the browsing experience on a tablet device, and the company plans to release it to the iPhone and other devices such as Android soon.