Opera Mini 4.2 beta, a test version released for Java phones just two weeks ago, on Monday became the first third-party browser available for Google Android.
Opera Mini for Android, which was previewed in April, includes most of the familiar Mini 4.2 features: zooming, saving, bookmarking, and searching for in-line text has stayed intact, as has syncing via Opera Link and swapping skins.
We couldn't make the video playback workaround that debuted on other Java phones work in this build, though T-Mobile's USA's G1 phone does support video playback (see our review on TuneWiki.) We hear that Opera will address this issue when the mobile browser comes out of beta.
What's distinctive and commendable of the Android-optimized build: fast speeds over T-Mobile's 3G network, a very crisp display, and quality that approaches the iPhone when it comes to viewing a zoomed-out Web page, thanks to both screen size and image clarity. The G1's two menu keys also enhance the experience, making Opera Mini's controls easy to access and navigate.
Google Android was low-hanging fruit for Opera. It would have been better, of course, if the browser had been available when the G1 began selling, but of all third-party developers, Opera still managed to bring its free browser first to Android's market--and a very able version at that.
We're hoping that Opera will port its more robust Mobile version to Android next, and as always, that Opera will release a version that lets users type directly into a text field without pulling up an intermediary screen.