Swiping web pages in Coast for Opera
Yesterday Opera launched a new browser for the iPad called Coast by Opera. It is a very interesting experiment in how you could use websites on tablets. You can save websites to the home screen in the app, and they look just like the apps on the home screen of your iPad. It is already possible, and pretty easy, to add a website to your home screen on the iPad, but on Coast it is even easier.
Another feature of the browser is that it has no chrome at all. All pages are shown full screen, which means there are no back and forward buttons. Instead, you go back and forth in your history by swiping left or right. This causes problems with some sites.
Swipe is broken
If you open this page in Coast, and then click on this link to the wonderful Rijksmuseum site, and for some weird reason you want to go back to this page, you’ll have a hard time doing so. Because on the homepage of the Rijksmuseum site, you can swipe from one item to the other. If people really start using Coast en masse, we probably have to reconsider these swipe patterns: we don’t want to break the browser of our visitors.
Coast treats websites like apps. It gives them a nice icon on a home screen, just like an app. It shows the content in a chromeless, full screen way, just like an app. But by doing so, it conflicts with some of the functionality of those websites, ironically especially the sites that try to look and behave like a native app.
So, should we stop adding swipe gestures to our websites? Maybe. Maybe we should ask Opera to change the gestures to something like two finger swipe? But then we have to ask all future browsers on touch devices to do the same.