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Opera puts first browser on Samsung's Gear S smartwatch

Opera puts first browser on Samsung's Gear S smartwatch

The Mini browser has been customized for Samsung's connected smartwatch

The Opera Mini browser on Samsung Gear S smart watch.

The Opera Mini browser on Samsung Gear S smart watch.

Buyers of the Gear S smartwatch will be able to browser the web on the device's diminutive touch screen when it goes on sale later this month.

Opera Software has ported its Opera Mini browser to Samsung Electronics' Gear S, and will offer it as a free download. It's the first browser to target the Tizen-based device, the developer said.

Opera has made a name for itself with its Mini browser, designed for devices with limited bandwidth, screen size or processing power. The browser works by sending web requests via Opera's servers, which compress Web pages before returning them to the device. The result is faster, more frugal and energy-efficient browsing, according to Opera.

Power consumption is especially important on a smartwatch, which due to its limited size has a shorter battery life than smartphones of otherwise comparable performance.

Downloading less data should mean the radio on the Gear S has to be active for a shorter time and therefore use less battery capacity. Since the watch has its own 3G modem and SIM card, it also has its own data plan, and downloading less data will also make that last longer.

An image of the Mini's user interface on the Gear S shows the Speed Dial feature which displays website shortcuts as large buttons. The 2-inch screen with its 480 by 360 pixel resolution is large enough to fit two rows with three shortcuts each.

Partnering to increase the number of apps for the Gear S is key for Samsung, since the company's Tizen operating system isn't backed by as many developers as competing platforms from Google and Apple. Samsung has already teamed up with Nike on a running app and Nokia for maps.

Samsung plans to begin selling the Gear S in October.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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