A WordPress Oriented Review of Opera for iPhone

13th of April, 2010 ·  Comments

a quick note

This review is really oriented toward updating a WordPress website, and so I don’t touch very much on the overall usability of the program. For a review that feels spot-on for normal usage, check out Daring Fireball’s.

the review

In all my time using Mobile Safari, I have only run into one major problem with it: WordPress.

This website is runs on the WordPress platform, and, in general, gets updated through a web browser in an interface not unlike Google Docs. This is fine most of the time, but I want to be able to make updates while I’m on my forty-minute bus ride home. Problem is the site is NOT optimized for use on an iPhone, and is actually a pretty terrible experience. It’s painfully slow, and the text areas are uselessly large. There’s a WordPress iPhone app, but it doesn’t have support for a thing called custom fields, a necessary feature for posting to my site.

So along comes Opera, a browser for a phone that does things a lot different. But will it help me update my site any better?

Sort of.

First the good stuff. Opera Mini works just like any web browser. It’s quite a bit faster than Safari over slow connections because sites get sent to an Opera server where they are compressed before being sent to your phone. So when you click a link, it feels like there’s a slight hesitation, then an unbelievable sprint.

Also, Opera has a mobile view setting which essentially takes a website and reformats is as intelligently as it can to fit the width of the iPhone’s screen. In Opera’s own words:

Mobile view re-renders the page you are browsing making it optimal for handsets. This causes some sites to look unfamiliar, so if you want to see the full site you might want to keep this off, however if you want a fast mobile-friendly experience go ahead and enable mobile view!

It’s this feature that makes Opera work for me in the capacity I require.

I tell Opera to use Mobile View, log into my admin screen, choose the HTML view (WYSIWYG view just doesn’t work), and I’m editing!

In short, Opera makes available all the fields I need in a very timely manner.

What doesn’t work for me, though, is the kind of 1.0-ness of the app. At the moment, it does not support iPhone’s auto-correct feature, which is maddening. Having to insert your own apostrophes, capitalize all your I‘s, and fix your own touch-screen typeos is horrible.¬†It also seems to have a hard time remembering what I typed into the field if I have to quit and re-open the app. It handles switching between tabs just fine, though. But this shortcoming means either having to save drafts a lot, or using the iPhone app to compose and Opera to publish, which kind of interrupts the workflow.

So Opera’s halfway there. It’s like being given a slice of cake, but no plate or fork. I’ve got high hopes for the first maintenance release; the major problem of no auto-complete should be addressed right the eff right now, and that would take most of the headache away.

On the other hand, maybe the WordPress app will be updated to support custom fields.

And if not, I happen to know that the developer of the WordPress Mobile Admin plugin is working on exactly this issue to make updating via Safari much less painful. He’s a good guy, and I heartily recommend his plugin to WordPress users.

Overall, Opera’s a huge step in the right direction, and I’m glad it’s on the App Store. But until it¬†supports auto-correct, it’s just not worthwhile.

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