Mobile browsers are a dime a dozen on Android – not even that, since most are actually free. But outside Dolphin Browser HD and Mozilla’s Firefox Mobile, not many allow you to expand the browser’s capabilities with extensions like desktop browsers can. Browser old-timer Opera has just published an experimental release of Opera Mobile (not to be confused with Opera Mini) with support for browser extensions, as well as publishing APIs and guidelines for would-be developers. You can download the experimental build at Opera’s developer blog.
The most interesting thing about the extension support is that Opera’s claiming that extensions can run on both the desktop an Mobile versions of Opera with the same code. It’s not quite as simple as that – even Opera notes that extensions using Speed Dial and pop-up windows won’t work properly – but for developers who have put a year’s worth of work into their Opera desktop code, it’s a mighty tempting feature. For those devs who don’t have Android phones, Opera has kindly supplied an emulator specifically for the browser. Opera hasn’t committed to including extensions in the main release – this is just an experiment at the moment.
Below: a guy talking about mobile browser extensions with a Norwegian accent!
Will extension support help Opera rise above the crowd? Hard to say. A year ago the ability to add extensions to Dolphin was a major advantage, but these days most of the functions I used the extensions for are either built into the browser itself or part of Android. Firefox has never been fast enough on mobile for me to seriously consider it, and adding extensions would only slow it down. The most important aspect with any platform remains the software – let’s see what crops up for the browser in the next few months.[via Android Police]