Opera's new Android browser hits Google Play, rebuilt from the ground up

Opera's new WebKit-based Android browser sports some nifty features and a bevy of under-the-hood changes.

After three months of public beta testing, Opera is finally ready to take on Google's Chrome with its rebuilt Android browser. On Tuesday, Opera released the final version of its first--and possibly only--WebKit-based browser.

The jump to WebKit resulted in more than just a speed bump. The overall interface of the new Opera browser has been refreshed with a lighter color scheme, and there's a new Discover tab that aggregates popular news stories from categories such as Arts, News, and Technology.

Opera for Android also has a built-in downloads manager, which lets you start, stop, resume, save and rename media files you keep on your phone. Handy-dandy.

The browser additionally offers a few standout features. One highlight is Off-Road mode, which uses Opera's servers to compress website data and send you a smaller, more optimized version of the site. (Opera Mini users already know the drill.) The drop-down menu at the top contains the feature, though webpages might not look exactly the same when using Off-Road mode due to the compression technology.

That said, why would you do use Off-Road mode? Simple: Because it helps keep you under your Draconian mobile data cap.

Opera also brought back a feature popular that was left out of the initial beta: text reflow. This allows text to recenter on the screen as you view websites or zoom in on pages, removing the need to scroll sideways to read wide paragraphs of small text.

Nuts and bolts

The biggest changes are found under the hood, however. The new Opera is based on WebKit, the browser engine powering both Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome, rather than Presto, Opera's long-used custom rendering engine.

Opera said it transitioned to WebKit (and away from Presto) so that the company can focus its attention on developing new features for its browser, rather than spending time tinkering with the nuts-and-bolts of website rendering.

Opera's time with WebKit looks like it will be short-lived, though. In the months since Opera announced its move to WebKit, Google said it will fork WebKit into a new engine dubbed Blink for use with its Chrome browsers. Opera told TechCrunch that its browser will jump ship to Google's fork once the code becomes available.

Google Play's stats show that Opera for Android has been downloaded between 10 and 50 million times in the last 30 days. Globally, StatCounter figures show Opera is the third most popular mobile browser after the defaults for Android (31 percent) and iPhone (24 percent), thanks to its 15 percent share. The numbers are a bit different Stateside, though, where Opera commands a measly 2 percent of the market.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesbrowsersGoogleAndroidsoftwareapplicationsoperaconsumer electronics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Daniel Ionescu

TechHive (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?