Samsung Gear S smartwatch gets Opera Mini, adding to its list of big-name apps


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Samsung’s Gear S watch looks pretty much like a smartphone shrunken down to fit a wrist, so it’s appropriate that Opera has made a shrunken browser to match.

The Opera Mini Gear S app looks a lot like the smartphone version, except everything’s squished to fit onto the watch’s two-inch display. It does try to make browsing on the small screen easier, with large Speed Dial buttons for favorite websites, double-tap to zoom in, and swipe gestures to move back and forth. But it also lets users test their fine motor skills, with pinch-to-zoom support and plenty of tiny buttons to press. (Tim Cook would not approve.)

Why would you even want a full web browser on your wrist? Opera’s most compelling argument is that it’s useful for quickly referencing things like maps or directions without reaching for your phone. The browser even has an offline reading feature for this purpose. The company also reminded GigaOM that some people still use Opera Mini on basic feature phones, so the idea of browsing on a small screen isn’t totally crazy.

But right now, this is all theory, as Samsung hasn’t announced a release date for the Gear S, or even explained how the built-in data connection will work . (AT&T has suggested the watch will connect through a remote smartphone, which must be turned on even if it’s not nearby.)

The story behind the story: While it’s unclear whether Samsung plans to make its own browser for the Gear S, Opera Mini is another sign of surprisingly robust app support for the unreleased device. Even before launch, the watch has landed big names such as Facebook, Foursquare, Financial Times, Nike, and Expedia. There are reasons to be skeptical of the standalone smartwatch, but it doesn’t seem like app developers are shying away.

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