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Opera Mini for the iPhone

Opera announced that they ported their Opera Mini browser to the iPhone and will be submitting it to the App Store. It isn’t the first third-party browser for the iPhone but all others were based on the standard Webkit component that is available in the SDK. Opera Mini is unique in this regard because it doesn’t use Webkit, but has its own renderer.

There is one potential problem though; Apple refuses to approve applications that have an interpreter or virtual machine that can run arbitrary code. This is exactly what you need if you have built your own renderer and want to render pages that contain JavaScript. The interesting part is that Opera did not port Opera Mobile, but Opera Mini. The latter doesn’t actually contain a full brown renderer.

It uses Opera’s servers to render the HTML pages and sends the result in a proprietary compressed binary format to the relatively light-weight client. This is exactly why Opera Mini works so well on all of those older mobile phones which don’t really have the speed to power a full brown renderer like their Opera Mobile product. Is it enough to bypass the SDK rules? Maybe, I’m quite curious how Apple is going to handle this.