Coast by Opera aims to revolutionize browsing on your iPad

When it comes to the humble web browser, the fundamentals haven’t changed an awful lot over the years. Even when porting the browser to a tablet, developers have traditionally steered a conservative line and have either scaled up a mobile browser or attempted to replicate the desktop interface in a touchscreen environment.

For those who find web browsing on the iPad more fiddly than it should be, rejoice: Opera Software has attempted to reinvent the tablet browser with the release of Coast by Opera.

Adopting a less-is-more approach, Opera has stripped back the browser to its raw basics -- wave goodbye to toolbars, drop-down menus and underlined hyperlinks, and instead embrace a simple browsing tool that aims to be both elegant and intuitive.

Coast opens with a short video explaining the basics, and that’s really all you need to know. You start at the home screen, where favorite sites are arranged in a similar fashion to the apps on your home screen, across multiple pages in banks of nine (swipe to navigate between them). As time goes on, previously visited sites will also appear here, making it easy for you to add them to your favorites with a simple tap and drag.

You’ll also see a unified search and address bar at the top of the screen. This bar is only accessible from the home screen and will disappear the moment you navigate to a web page. The web itself is rendered full-screen in your iPad window -- swipe to navigate backwards and forwards through your history.

The only other on-screen paraphernalia are two buttons: one to go back to the Home screen, the other to access options for sharing or bookmarking the current page, or viewing a security rating about it (Coast will automatically warn you when visiting pages it rates as unsafe). You can also swipe between recently accessed web pages via this button.

And that’s pretty much it: the browser reimagined for tablets, with instructions of less than 200 words. Purists may hate it, while others may take a while to adapt to its stripped-back approach to web browsing. It may never take off, but at least Opera has opened up a debate about how we want to browse on larger touchscreen devices.

Coast by Opera 1.02 is available now for free for iPad users only.

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