WEB BROWSER FIRM Opera has tweaked its Opera Mini browser software for mobile devices and added a data usage counter in version 6.5.
Opera Mini version 6.5, which was already available for Android, is now offered to Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry, Symbian S60 (pictured below) and Java-enabled phones.
"The heady days of free data usage at a fixed price are drawing to an end, but, fret not, as you can still enjoy the mobile web experience," said the firm in a blog post.
"Fresh off the heels of releasing Android versions, the new browser now enables consumers to keep better track of data costs when surfing the Web. By saving up to 90% of data cost, Opera Mini lets you save money and more."
The feature is small and neat and can be found by clicking the "O" for Opera button, its the one in red at the bottom right of the mobile screen. Going there takes you to some options, of which you need Help followed by Data Usage.
In a quick trial we found that a visit to the BBC news web site and a little time on the home page took up 272kB. Without Opera's compression this would have been 1.4MB, according to the feature, making a savings of 83 per cent. A visit to The INQUIRER's home page gave similar results, as did other pages we visited.
The firm recommends that users stick to its Mini browser for web surfing and consider cancelling any all-you-can eat data contracts they might have, which does seem a bit rash. However, if the web browser consistently saves over 80 per cent of downloaded data it might not be a bad idea.
"There are a lot of ways to save money on your mobile phone bill and avoid getting hit with nasty coverage charges on your cell phone bill and the new data counter in Opera Mini and Opera Mobile is one of those tools," says Phillip Grønvold, product manager for Mobile at Opera Software.
"The data counter instantly shows people how much they have saved, and I guess a really good press release would make that more important, but the PR people told me to stick it all the way down here."
Other little updates include placing a star in the browser's address field. Clicking this gives you the choice of bookmarking the page or adding it to your homescreen, and is a nice time saving device. µ