Browser

Make the most out of Opera on your Android tablet

The Opera browser for the Android tablet offers a few extra features that make it worth using. Jack Wallen explains.

For many users, the built-in browser on the Android tablet is sufficient. It renders web pages quickly (and accurately) and runs smoothly without taking up too many resources. But for some, that browser is simply too bare bones. There are so many other features web browsers can enjoy that have yet to find their way into the default Android browser.

Of course, there are plenty of other web browsers available, but the Opera tablet browser offers a few extra features that make it worth using, including:

  • Opera Turbo: Speed up the loading of web pages when you're on a slow connection
  • Saved Pages: Cache pages for quick access
  • Built-in user agent: Switch which browser profile is used
  • Easy privacy settings: Set your browser for as much security as you need
  • Quick enable/disable Flash: Speed up your experience by disabling Flash as needed

Now that you know what it offers, let's get it up and running.

Installation

As you might expect, the installation of Opera is quite simple:

  1. Open up the Google Play Store
  2. Search for "opera" (no quotes)
  3. Tap on the official Opera entry
  4. Tap Download
  5. Tap Accept & download

Once it's installed, you'll find Opera either as an icon on your home screen or in your app drawer.

Opera Turbo

Opera Turbo is a method of image compression that's handled by the Opera servers. In a nutshell: The Opera servers compress the images and then send them to your browser, thus making the browsing experience faster. This method is susceptible to the speeds at which the Opera servers can get the compressed images to you, so it's not a method without flaw. But when it works well, it works really well.

Follow these steps to enable this feature:

  1. Open Opera
  2. Tap on the "O" in the upper left corner
  3. Click on Settings
  4. Tap Opera Turbo (Figure A)
  5. From the new overlay, select either Always On, Off when on Wi-Fi, or Always off
Figure A

Even when on Verizon's 4G, you should use the default "Off when on Wi-Fi" setting.

That's it. With Opera Turbo set, you should see an improvement over the standard browsing.

Saved Pages

With Opera, it's possible to save pages so they're always accessible (whether you're online or not). Opera has a great system that makes this task incredibly simple. Here's how it's done:

  1. Visit a site you want to save
  2. Let the page load completely
  3. Tap the "O" in the upper left corner
  4. Tap Saved Pages
  5. Tap the Save button (Figure B)
  6. In the new overlay, give the page a name
  7. Tap Save
Figure B

Here you see TechRepublic's page saved.

To open a saved page, simply do the following:

  1. Tap the "O"
  2. Tap Saved Pages
  3. Tap the entry for the saved page you want to view

The page should load very quickly.

User agent

Opera has a built-in user agent switcher, so you can trick web sites into thinking the browser is either a tablet or desktop version of Opera. Here's how to make the switch:

  1. Tap the "O"
  2. Tap Advanced
  3. Tap User Agent
  4. Tap the type of browser you want the User Agent to present (Figure C)
Figure C

I prefer to choose the tablet version if I'm on slower networks.

If you select the desktop version, web sites will always render in full (and not in mobile mode).

Privacy Settings

When you tap on "O" | Privacy, you'll find all of the privacy offerings available to Opera (Figure D):
  • Remember passwords: On/off
  • Accept cookies: On/off
  • Clear history
  • Clear passwords
  • Clear cookies
  • Clear cache
  • Clear shared locations
  • Clear camera permissions
Figure D

The bottom six Privacy entries are simply quick access to clearing various features.

Quickly enable/disable Flash

For some users, Flash is a nuisance. Not only can it cause security problems, but it can also slow down the browsing experience. With Opera, you can quickly disable and enable Flash. Here's how:

  1. Tap the "O"
  2. Tap Advanced
  3. Tap Adobe Flash
  4. Tap one of the available options (Figure E)
Figure E

Click to play is the option that makes the most efficient use of this feature.
When you select Click to play, you'll see a play button on any Flash element. Tap that button (Figure F) to play the Flash element on the page. Figure F

The right-pointing triangle is the "Play" button.

Opera for tablets is an incredibly flexible and user-friendly web browser that offers more than the standard fair. Give some of these features a try, and you might find yourself leaving the built-in browser behind.

Do you use Opera on your tablet? If so, what is your favorite Opera feature? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

3 comments
SubgeniusD
SubgeniusD

Jack doesn't specify if he's reviewing mobile or mini Opera. Probably mobile because I don't think mini supports Flash.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

So if you need to fiddle with its insides, that's a good place to start. Of course, Opera autocorrects it to Opera:config, but either way should work.

chris.smith
chris.smith

Another good thing about Opera, per quirksmode.org is that is seems to support more of the Html5 spec that the standard Android browser. Safari mobile is further along though but Opera is doing good. Here are the supported inputs: http://www.quirksmode.org/html5/inputs_mobile.html The native Android browser doesn't implement any of this and to my frustration, it makes writing mobile web apps more difficult - if I need a date input for example on a form, I have to roll a custom javascript calendar control instead of it just being built right into the browser. I find this odd since Google is such a proponent of the web and you'd think at the very least they would match what Safari mobile offers. +1 to Opera for really getting dirty with the Html5 spec. Too bad Opera isn't installed by default on Android because I'd love to pull it into my WebView control.