There are those who believe that Web browsers on mobile phones should be almost carbon copy replicas of their muscular counterparts on PCs. And then there are those who insist that the twain should never meet, simply because, hey, you do not really use your handset the way you do your computer. Well, if you belong to the latter school of thought, the Opera Coast browser is right up your cellular alley.

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Brought to you by the folks who made Opera for desktops and Opera Mini and Mobile for mobile devices, Coast made its debut on the iPad last year and its latest avatar brings it to the iPhone as well. And honestly, we think that it is on the smallest iOS display that one sees it at its best. For, make no mistake about it, Coast is utterly unlike any Web browser you are likely to have tried out. There are zero navigation buttons and no menus. Heck, there is not even a URL address bar – you just pull down from anywhere on the display and type what you seek in the area marked by a blinking cursor (no, there’s not even a search ‘box’). And as you type, you will see cards appearing above your query, trying to guess what you are seeking. If any of them is the one you seek, tap on it to be taken to the site. Else simply tap the magnifying glass and be taken to a normal ‘results’ page where you can choose which result works best for you.

Navigation is button-free too – you just swipe ahead (to the right) to go to the next page and back (to the left) to go to the previous page. There are two onscreen icons on the browser – one in the form of a 3×3 grid and another in the form of a 3×1 one. Tapping on the former takes you back to the home page of the browser, which is basically nothing but a collection of cards, each representing your favorite websites (Coast’s very Palm iOS-like take on bookmarks and favorites); while tapping on the smaller grid gives you different options with regard to the page you are browsing – you can save it as a card on your homescreen, print it, mail or message it, or slap it onto Facebook or Twitter.

And really, that’s about it. You start the browser and either head to a site of your preference using the bookmark ‘cards’ you have placed on different homescreens (yes, there are those too, just swipe across them to access more saved cards), or pull down the “search” option and type what you are searching for. Swipe to the right to go ahead, swipe to the left to go to the previous page. Use the two icons on the bottom of the page to either go to the landing screen (with your bookmarked cards) or to do more with the existing Web page. We have not seen Web browsing on a handset get simpler than this. And yes, it all actually works pretty well too – pages are very well rendered, videos play well, and by and large, the browser operates at a decent clip. There’s also a sync built between the iPhone and iPad versions of the browser, letting you have the same cards on both devices.

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Yes, we know that there will be a ‘hardcore’ browser audience that will demand more – the anonymous browsing option, the ability to save pages for offline reading, the ability to turn off images and so on and so forth. Well, Opera Coast is not really for them. It is more for someone who simply wants to browse the Web on their handset with minimum fuss and without having to hit too many buttons. And there are plenty who want just that. We had not realized we were among them until we started using it. No, we are not uninstalling Chrome on our iPhone 5s yet, but when we just want to surf a bit to catch up on our online reading, we are going to be turning to Coast more often than not. Simplicity has its virtues. Definitely an app worth downloading – whether you choose to stick to it is going to depend on how much you are used to other browsers. Because as we said before, Coast is nothing like them!

Download from: iTunes App Store
Price: Free

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Associate Editor

Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.