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Jewish World Review
June 26, 2009
/ 4 Tamuz 5769
New Opera browser's OK, but new iPhone OS sings
Sometimes, publishing and releasing software is a roll of the dice: it can come up
snake eyes or double sixes. Last week's release of a new Web browser from Opera
Software N.V., the Norwegian firm nipping at the heels of Microsoft's Internet
Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox, is very good, but I don't hear any angelic
By contrast, the new operating system for Apple Inc.'s iPhone, OS 3.0, certainly
hits all the right notes.
Metaphors aside, some realities should be noted: the Web browser market is immense
we're all on the Internet, right? but it's also dominated by Microsoft
and Mozilla, not to mention Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome browsers. Nosing
in there is tough, to say the least. Thus, Opera has a steep hill to climb. And for
the iPhone, unless you're willing to risk scrambling the entire device, you can
run any operating system you want, so long as it's Apple's. This means that even
if you choose to put off upgrading at first rush, you'll probably end up
acquiescing at some point.
Opera's new version is fast, flashy and has some nice features, such as a "zoom
in" mode that enlarges the entire area of a Web page, and not just the text, when
pressing a combination of keys that normally enlarge only the text. It's nice that
this zoom method is the default method.
The speed with which Opera renders most Web pages is also quite nice; it makes
sluggish connections seem faster, and super-fast connections seem positively
The only thing I used to "ding" Opera for may have been fixed: the program does
load, albeit more slowly than Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari, the electronic
edition of The Washington Times. Once loaded, individual stories open super-fast.
Would I make Opera my only browser? Not yet I'm still skittish but it is
moving very nicely forward. The firm is also developing and trialing "Opera
Unite," supposedly an open platform where data and Web browsing would be possible
on multiple computers. You could set up the system at work and use it to share files
and access data from home, or from a public computer somewhere. If it works as
advertised, it'll be interesting.
Check out www.opera.com for the new browser, and if you feel inclined, let me know
what you think.
And what do I think of the new iPhone operating system? It's pretty much an answer
to prayer: you can select, copy or cut and paste text from one place to another, you
can type and read e-mail in landscape mode, and there are massive new search
features to comb your device for programs, data and other information.
Is it all perfect? Not yet, since the Search feature sometimes finds too much, i.e.
too many instances of something such as a common word or name, and the upgrade
won't give you the voice dialing and other voice commands available only on the
new iPhone 3G S . But it's far better than the iPhone versions offered
Other key improvements are not yet available to U.S. users of the iPhone: MMS
messaging, a form of texting that includes pictures and video, isn't supported yet
by AT&T Wireless, nor is "tethering," which lets you use the iPhone as a
wireless data modem for your computer. AT&T says it will introduce MMS service at
some point, while tethering may come later this year, if industry rumors are
I do like the way the iPhone will now log into a Wi-Fi hotspot: it's much smarter
and easier to keep organized. The "find my iPhone" service offered with
Apple's $99-per-year MobileMe data service is great, but it's also $99
more than you're spending if you don't already have MobileMe.
But the improvements are worth it. If you haven't already, update your iPhone and
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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
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