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Opera’s Widgets Become Mobile Apps

Opera Software, developers of web browser technology for PC, Mac, Linux and mobile, have just announced that their Opera “widgets” will now work on nearly any mobile phone. The widgets in question are small mini-applications that can run in Opera’s web browser itself, on the desktop as standalone apps and now, as standalone apps on mobile phones, too.

Built with standards like HTML, CSS and JavaScript, the widgets are easy for web developers to create since they don’t require knowing a vendor-specific technology in order to do so.

According to the company’s announcement, the new widgets take advantage of Opera’s recently launched cross-platform UI framework, a framework that’s intended to “help operators and manufacturers efficiently distribute a single browser UI across a wide range of devices.”

That change to browser distribution technology now applies to the Opera Widgets too. Already, there are hundreds of widgets available in Opera’s online gallery, including everything from games to media players plus widgets for accessing Facebook, Twitter and more. 

However, it appears that these widgets for mobile aren’t being offered directly to consumers in the way that the company’s web browser widgets are. Instead, Opera intends to provide their widget lineup to operators and handset manufacturers who can then choose which widgets they want to include with their phones. Interested businesses are asked to request more info here: http://www.opera.com/business.

In other words, just because these widgets are built with “open web standards,” it doesn’t mean you can just start installing them on your iPhone right now.

Widgets: Apps for Feature Phones?

That’s OK, though – the company probably doesn’t intend for that to happen anyway. The Opera mobile browsers have become popular alternatives to the basic browsers included on many of today’s “feature phones” because they speed up browsing by proxying access to the web through Opera’s servers while also offering some advanced options like pinch-and-zoom and tabbed browsing. For feature phones, the Opera browser can offer a better web surfing experience, but on today’s smartphones, the built-in browser is usually just as good (if not better) and doesn’t have to rely on proxies for fast web access.

Similarly, the new mobile widgets are likely intended to be the speedy apps missing from most feature phones – phones which, unlike the iPhone and Android devices, don’t have their own built-in “App Stores.” By providing carriers and manufacturers access to the Opera widget lineup, now even the most basic phones can tout some of the same features that modern smartphones do (“access Facebook with an app!,” “update Twitter on the go!”). Whether or not any businesses go for these new widgets still remains to be seen.

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