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Opera shows off new WebKit-based 'Ice' mobile browser

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Opera Ice Pocket-Lint
Opera Ice Pocket-Lint

Opera is reportedly preparing a new browser to help it compete on tablets — and it's turning to the WebKit rendering engine to do it. Pocket-lint has posted video of what it says was an internal presentation held at Opera before this past Christmas. In it, the "next-generation" browser — dubbed Ice — is demonstrated on an iPad. It features a heavy reliance on gestures, with the employee demoing the app using swipes to dive into his browsing history; a carousel view also lets users swipe through different search results when looking for a specific page.

Presto for WebKit

In what's the biggest change, however, Ice will reportedly drop the Presto engine currently used by Opera browsers in favor of WebKit — the same browser engine that powers Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome. Opera CEO Lars Boilesen reportedly said part of the goal of Ice was to be able to take those browsers on directly. "Opera mini is great, but it is not a fully-fledged offering like Chrome or Safari," he's quoted as saying. "There are too many sites it doesn't work with." In its effort to combat the two mobile heavyweights, Opera is said to be targeting a February release for the new browser on both Android and iOS.

WebKit has become so dominant in mobile browsers that the W3C has even formally expressed concern that it could be damaging the integrity of web standards — much like Internet Explorer was accused of doing in the early days of the web on the desktop. Of course, Microsoft's refusal to adopt WebKit has led to increased friction between Google and users of Internet Explorer; we doubt Opera jumping on board will resolve that problem anytime soon.