Opera Mobile devs get a Windows, Mac, Linux emulator

On Thursday, Opera released a PC emulator for Windows, Mac, and Linux to help developers test widgets for Opera Mobile.

The latest release from Opera Software is admittedly a mobile browser-related app that few smartphone owners will ever touch, let alone know of its existence. It's a new tool that developers of Opera Mobile widgets, however, will want to get their code-tinkering paws on.

The Opera Mobile 10 desktop emulator will let widget-creators visually mark the progress of their tiny addendum apps from the convenience of the Windows, Mac, or Linux (direct download) screen.

Emulators aren't new to the mobile development biz any more than tools for software authoring are new to Opera, whose Dragonfly debugging tool has long held court. What is new is the capability to test, test, and test some more before taking the finished product to a Symbian or Windows phone (the two platforms that run Opera Mobile).

As with Opera Mobile 10 for the desktop, the emulator--which comes with the Opera Mobile Widgets Emulator bundled within--runs on the Opera Presto engine that powers Opera Mobile and is compatible with Opera Dragonfly when both are used on the same computer or computing network.

It's clear to us that Opera's emulator isn't intended to help out only existing widget developers in the Opera community, but also to attract Web developers who are new to the mobile space or to Opera.

Firefox Mobile, though still in its crib-bound infancy as a mobile browser, is the most potentially explosive threat to Opera's mobile-browser domination. If Firefox handles its mobile browser development well going forward, it's easy to see the rampant popularity that is Firefox extensions on the desktop spill over to Firefox on the mobile phone. If mobile Firefox extensions are the question, Opera's continued effort to engage widget developers is a sure sign that the browser-maker is preparing its answer.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.