Opera revamps its browser for larger Android tablets

Opera version 18 is now out for Android tablets, making the Norwegian firm’s browser on such devices a bit more like its rivals.

Gone is the carousel interface for flicking through multiple pages, familiar to Opera’s many mobile users – it’s now a game of tabs instead, much as it is with Chrome(s goog) on Android tablets. This is only supposed to work on tablets with screen sizes above 7 inches, but it seems to work that way on my first-gen Nexus 7 too.

According to Johan Schön, Opera’s mobile browser chief:

“The size of devices and mindset of users make the tablet very different from its smaller cousin, the smartphone, and we have to respect that. In Opera 18 for Android, we have spent hours and hours tweaking, and fiddling with the placement of, even the most minute detail, just to get that top tablet feel.”

As I say, this is a similar feel as you’ll get through rival browsers, up to a certain point. Obviously you’ve also got Opera-specific features such as Speed Dial and that data-saving Off-Road facility (which Google clearly likes).

In any case, Android isn’t the platform where Opera is doing its really innovative stuff right now. For that, you need to look to the iPad(s aapl), where instead of a full version of its normal browser Opera has an experimental affair called Coast. Coast completely ditches generic elements such as tabs and forward and back buttons, opting instead for more intuitive swiping gestures that ultimately save on screen space.

A spokesman for Opera told me on Wednesday that Coast was “going well” after two months in the App Store, though he refused to say whether or not it would be making the jump to Android at some point.