Oh, Opera. You've been around for a long time (considerably longer than Android or Google, in fact) but aside from a great showing back in the J2ME days, you've never managed to break into those competitive browser markets. The latest financial figures and projections, as reported by Reuters, don't look particularly good for the Norwegian software company. Though Opera Software's revenues grew in the second quarter, they didn't meet analyst expectations, and adjusted earnings missed the target by a factor of $1.6 million. The projection for total 2015 revenue has been cut from $630-650 million down to $600-618 million.
If all those numbers make your head spin, just know that they're not good.
About three weeks ago the beta version of Opera for Android added a handful of new features. Today most of them graduate to the standard version, marked as v30.0.1856 on my phone. The biggest change (at least according to Opera's official blog) is that the sites saved to the "speed dial" homepage will sync across Android and desktop versions of Opera. That's provided, of course, that you're logged into your Opera account on all devices. If you prefer different Speed Dial options for mobile and desktop, that's an option too.
Perhaps more notable from a technical standpoint is an upgrade to the Chromium 43 rendering engine.
You want the internet on your TV? There are several ways to go about that, but the latest is to use Android TV and the Opera TV Browser app. It's free to download, but compatibility is a bit odd. It doesn't seem to support the Nexus Player right now, but it will install on the Shield and ADT-1 just fine.
Opera Max debuted on Android way back in December of 2013. Today it gets a major update - major enough, at least, that Opera thinks it's worth putting into a completely new app listing. Here's the original Opera Max, and here's the new "global" version (from the file name). The biggest visual change is a spiffy new interface with a bunch of Material Design elements. And that's nice, but what's really interesting is the ability to select specific settings for Wi-Fi or mobile (3G and LTE) connections.
Opera Max isn't a browser, it's an app that allows users to apply Opera's VPN and data compression technology to all of the non-encrypted data sent or received by an Android device.
Opera for Android used to offer an Off-Road mode that compressed websites to help consume less data. But users sometimes ran into issues with compatibility. Now the company is fixing things by bringing Opera Turbo to its main Android app, with the hope of letting you save data without sacrificing speed or formatting.
Opera Turbo has been available on desktops for the better part of a decade. It runs on different servers than the Android version's old Off-Road mode (which used the servers behind Opera Mini). The feature still compresses non-HTTPs webpages, but the actual rendering happens on your end.
It's easy to forget that Opera is still out there with all the talk of Chrome and Firefox, but it's still a capable browser. Even more so after it switched to a Chromium base a while back. The beta version of Opera is getting an update today, and it's based on a new version of Chromium with a few added features.
Back in 2004 (or thereabouts), Opera was my go-to browser. I liked that it was available on both Windows and Linux, and it just seemed faster than Firefox to me at the time. That was of course long before mobile phones were what they are now - I was probably carrying an old Nokia bar phone and changing the faceplate every three days. Good times.
Another thing missing back in the dark days of the early 2000s was something Google really made happen with Chrome: cross-device/platform sync. Now that I have it, I'm not sure how I ever lived without it.
Chrome users love to try out new features in the beta version of the Android browser, and fans of Opera's long-running software have been able to do the same since March. Now you can try out the new goodies in the pipeline early for the Opera Mini browser as well: the company just published a beta app on the Play Store. And what's more, the very first release of the beta version is making it count with a fresh new user interface.
Opera Mini on the left, Opera Mini Beta on the right.
The new version of Opera Mini looks considerably more modern, even if it isn't adhering to broad Holo or Material Design standards.