IPFS in Opera for Android

by Dietrich Ayala on 2020-03-30

IPFS built-in to Opera for Android

As we hinted in our previous post about IPFS in web browsers, IPFS support in the Opera web browser has been in development for some time.

Today, Opera for Android 57 is live in the Google Play Store with default support for IPFS with a native handler for ipfs:// addresses that redirects to the HTTP gateway of your choosing! Install Opera Android with IPFS now.

Screenshot of Opera for Android in the Google Play Store, linked to the URL of that page

This release is a huge leap forward for the IPFS project, with a couple of important milestones:

This is not just a win for IPFS, but for the distributed web, peer-to-peer, and the idea of content addressability:

For the first time, a major web browser does not ask the user to specify which server the content should be fetched from.

IPFS and other peer-to-peer protocols are a paradigmatic change to the network architecture of the web - full integration into browsers and web platform will be a very long road. While this type of integration is not a full node, it is this type of bold experimentation by companies like Opera that advances our goal of truly putting users in control of their experience on the internet.

Using IPFS in Opera for Android

IPFS support is enabled by default, so as a user you don’t need to do anything to turn it on.

Screenshots of entering an ipfs:// address in Opera for Android, and loading it.

You can load an IPFS content address such as:

ipfs://bafybeiemxf5abjwjbikoz4mc3a3dla6ual3jsgpdr4cjr3oz3evfyavhwq/wiki/

If you click the link above in Opera for Android you’ll see Wikipedia, served from IPFS!

Here’s what that same address looks like from an HTTP gateway, which will work in all browsers:

https://ipfs.io/ipfs/bafybeiemxf5abjwjbikoz4mc3a3dla6ual3jsgpdr4cjr3oz3evfyavhwq/wiki/

Enabling human-readable addresses

As you can see, raw IPFS addresses can be quite long and provide few human-readable elements. While many people do not understand what HTTP URLs actually mean, the human readable parts of them have meaning and build trust for users (We’re publishing some research about this soon).

There’s a lot more work to do in maturing naming in IPFS and distributed web efforts generally, but some services have already launched efforts to bridge this gap.

You can register decentralized domain names that map to IPFS addresses using services like Unstoppable Domains or the Ethereum Name System (ENS).

You can also register and use any DNS domain name, and map it to IPFS addresses using services like Terminal.co or tools like DNSLink.

Implementation

IPFS support in Opera for Android is enabled by a native protocol handler that uses an IPFS HTTP gateway to fulfill the request. This approach provides a balance: it is respectful of mobile device resources like battery and bandwidth, while easing access to IPFS for early web3 developers. As IPFS continues to mature, we’re evaluating what a more full-featured node on mobile devices might be, and look forward to experimenting with collaborators like Opera to see our vision of a fully decentralized web become real.

IPFS features in this implementation:

Read on to learn more about these features.

Native Protocol Addressing

Opera has implemented the protocol handler using the IPFS Web Browser Addressing specification. This specification defines how IPFS addresses should be constructed and handled in web browsers.

Implementation of this specification means a browser supports schemes such as ipfs:// or ipns://. In addition to navigating to content with these schemes in the address bar, mixed content scenarios are also possible. Examples are XMLHTTPRequest or Fetch requests, external style sheets, or images:

<img src=“ipfs://…”>

You can easily check compatibility and level of implementation using the IPFS protocol handler smoketest page.

Here’s what it looks like in a browser that doesn’t support IPFS addresses. In Opera for Android, the image loads the same in both cases.

Screenshot of a failed image test in the IPFS protocol handler smoketests.

HTTP Gateways

Opera for Android 57 adds IPFS support by navigating native IPFS addresses to an IPFS HTTP gateway — a server which connects directly to the IPFS network on your behalf.

The default gateway in this release of Opera for Android is dweb.link, but you can also easily configure the gateway in the Crypto Wallet settings, as shown here:

IPFS HTTP gateway configuration in the Crypto Wallet settings in Opera for Android

The setting has several choices of gateway built in, and also allows you to set a custom gateway. Perhaps you run your own gateway, are running an IPFS node on your device with a local gateway, or want to use one of the many public gateways provided by the community.

Making the default gateway configurable puts you, the user, in control of how you want to connect to the dweb - removing any central point of failure in your IPFS browsing experience.

Get Involved

If you’re interested in IPFS in web browsers, join our channel on IRC on Freenode #ipfs-in-web-browsers and Matrix to participate in the discussion!

You can file issues and follow along with our browser integration work at ipfs/in-web-browsers.

We welcome your help in bringing the distributed web to browsers! Have an idea for an IPFS+browsers project you want to build? We are actively funding new proposals. Take a look at the IPFS DevGrants program, where we sponsor work that contributes materially to the success of IPFS.

Now go install Opera for Android and enjoy default support for your favorite web3 apps and pages on your phone!

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