Opera was the first company to introduce a compression feature to its web browser. It was called Opera Turbo back in the days and was shipped with all desktop versions of the browser (there were no mobile versions available until later).
Opera users could enable or disable Opera Turbo with a simply flick of a switch in the browser. Enabled, it would redirect all incoming traffic through Opera servers where contents were compressed and optimized before they were transferred to the user's computer.
The main advantage here was that this reduced what needed to be downloaded to display websites in Opera. While often used in low bandwidth situations, it also had its used as a proxy server of sorts as it hid the IP address of the user in many situations.
Opera Turbo was renamed to Off-Road Mode some time ago, but nothing else changed. The feature is still available in all desktop version of Opera, and also in mobile versions.
Opera Software announced Opera Max today. It is a standalone application that brings Opera Off-Road Mode functionality as an app to Android.
Opera Max uses a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, to measure all the data usage on your phone. Once Opera Max savings is enabled, all data requests are sent through our compression servers that optimize video, images, and websites to use less data. We only measure how much data you use and how much data you’ve saved.
The company is looking for beta testers in the US currently who would like to test the application. To join the beta, you need to complete the following steps:
- Join the Opera Community page for Opera Max on Google Plus. A Google+ account is required to do so. You can do so even if you are not in the US at the time of doing so.
- Become a beta tester for Opera Max for Android on this Google Play page. This is also possible from anywhere in the world and not limited to the US.
- Download the Opera Max beta app for Android from Google Play. Note that you won't be able to complete this step if you are not located in the US currently.
- The application will only save HTTP traffic and not encrypted traffic or traffic caused by other protocols.
- Opera Max is app-independent, which means that it will work with every application provided that it is plain HTTP traffic.
- The service is free during the beta, but will be paid when it is released. Paid does not necessarily mean that users have to pay money for it, as there seems to also be an option to watch ads to do so.
- The test is currently limited to the US and Android, but Opera Software has plans to expand to other platforms and markets.
Opera Max is not the first application that compresses your phone's traffic. There is the Opera web browser for Android for example that can do so, but also standalone apps such as Onavo Extend.
Update: An Opera representative just told me that Opera Max compresses video, something that other applications do not do. This feature sets the app apart from other apps in its vertical. Considering that video contents use more bandwidth -- a lot -- than images or web pages, it is fair to say that this improves the potential of the app significantly.
I was also informed that Opera Max does not store actual data usage, only how much data is being used, and how much data is being saved by using the save. Opera Software in addition to this has no plans to sell or utilize and user-targeting data to outside companies.