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Opera's Coast browser for iPad gets makeover, ditches back/forward buttons

Opera has released a major new version of its iPad web browser Coast today. Version 2.0 adds several new features and builds upon the touch-centric design of its predecessor by doing something pretty radical: removing the back and forward buttons that have been a staple of web browsers since the early 1990s.

With Coast 2.0, users will move forward and backward using gestures. It's something that may confuse more novice users (though those users probably wouldn't be using anything but the built-in Safari browser), but the move is a welcome one as it embraces the changing human-computer input method that touchscreens have enabled.

Opera notes that there's also been a host of other new features added, including:

  • Tap and hold on the home screen to customize the visual background and swipe through a gallery of backgrounds provided by Opera or select one of the pictures from your photo stream as background.
  • Music and audio visualization: Sites with sound (music or video) have a visual indication that looks like a graphic waveform on the Speed Dial on the home screen to make it easier to know where the music is playing.
  • Users can directly open PDFs from the web in iBooks or other PDF readers, which has been a frequently requested feature enhancement.
  • It's faster to go back to the previous page; 80 percent of the time, you can go back instantly, making for less waiting time and frustration.
  • Better "app detection": correctly displays the right graphics for users' favorite sites that are added to the Speed Dial.
  • Smoother UI performance flows naturally + a lot of small changes based on user feedback.
  • For the geeks: The security engine has been updated to better recognize attacks.
  • Default sites can now be dynamically updated (with more relevant ones).

Coast 2.0 for iPad is a free download.

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