Using a smartphone is an inherently two-handed affair. It’s extremely difficult to browse, text, or tweet using just one hand. Ever tried to tap out an abusive message to Justin Bieber while you’re behind the wheel of car, for example? It’s hard.
Wait, that’s illegal? Er… never mind. What was I saying?
Oh yes. Opera, the iconic Norwegian (well, technically Chinese) browser developer, has launched a new mobile browser designed to work well one-handed. It’s called Opera Touch, and it’s actually really interesting. See how it works in the video below:
To activate the one-handed mode, you’ve got to press something called the “fast action button,” or FAB. The FAB lets you access search and view open tabs. It also places control the many of browser’s features within reach of your thumb.
If you’re curious about the design motivations behind this feature (which actually looks pretty handy), Opera has created a video where a spokesperson explains all:
The developers have also thrown quite a bit of effort into refining how search works in Opera Touch. To access Google, you’e merely got to graze the FAB at the bottom of the screen, which brings up the keyboard. Then, you just have to type your query and hit return.
This is a bit more ergonomically pleasant than, say, touching the address bar at the top of the screen, and then moving your hand to the bottom of the phone to reach the keyboard. Opera Touch also has easily accessible shortcuts for searching with your voice, and for scanning QR codes and barcodes.
The other cool feature of Opera Touch is called Flow, and lets you send files, notes, and links to your desktop computer. As someone who regularly is emailing myself screenshots I’ve taken of apps I’m reviewing, and messaging Slackbot with stuff I need to remember, this sounds like a vastly more graceful alternative.
To use Flow, you need to run Opera on both desktop and mobile. This is actually a shrewd move from the company, and could incentivize people to try a browser that doesn’t come from the “big four” — namely Mozilla, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Opera Touch will first land on Android, before eventually making its way to iOS. You can grab it from the Google Play Store. Stay tuned for our full review of Opera Touch in the coming days. In the meantime, you can check the live launch event here.
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