Opera – gHacks Technology News http://www.ghacks.net The independent technology news blog Sun, 26 Mar 2017 09:43:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 Opera 45: Telegram inclusion, Reborn improvements http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/opera-45-telegram-inclusion-reborn-improvements/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/opera-45-telegram-inclusion-reborn-improvements/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 05:49:38 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131479 Opera Software released several updates for Opera 45 Developer recently that brings Telegram integration, and improvements to the Reborn redesign of the browser. Reborn, a new design for the Opera web browser was revealed when Opera Software released Opera 44 Developer to the public. Reborn is not a complete change of the look and feel […]

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Opera Software released several updates for Opera 45 Developer recently that brings Telegram integration, and improvements to the Reborn redesign of the browser.

Reborn, a new design for the Opera web browser was revealed when Opera Software released Opera 44 Developer to the public. Reborn is not a complete change of the look and feel of the web browser, but a modernization of the interface without changing any of the functionality of the browser.

One of the changes that came along with Reborn was support for Facebook Messenger in the browser's sidebar. The feature used the sidebar's capability to display web content in it. So, what Opera Software did was integrate the web version of Facebook Messenger in the sidebar.

Later on, support for WhatsApp was introduced in a similar fashion.

Opera 45: Telegram support

opera telegram

The most recent Developer version update of the Opera browser added Telegram Messenger support to the mix. The feature works similar to Messenger and WhatsApp: it is not enabled by default, and users need to activate it by clicking on the Telegram icon, and following the process to sign in to a Telegram account using the web-based version of the messenger.

Once enabled, Telegram users can interact with their contacts directly from Opera's sidebar.

Opera users can hide any of the messenger icons -- and other icons -- of the sidebar by right-clicking on the sidebar and removing the checkmarks next to items that they don't want displayed there.

Opera Software should consider changing the display of messenger icons in the sidebar, especially if the company considers adding more to it in future versions. The sidebar could get quite crowded if the company adds more services to the sidebar.

One dedicated "chat" icon for all messengers, and the listing of all supported services on activation would probably be a better option.

Another change in regards to the supported messenger services is that you can now log out of the service using a menu that Opera Software added to the interface. You had to use the web version of the service previously to do that.

whatsapp opera close

Click on the new menu icon (the three dots) when the chat window is open, and select the log out option there. You find options to mute the messenger there as well. The latter option is useful if you don't want to be disturbed for a period of time.

New Bookmark dialog

opera 45 bookmark

Another change that Opera Software made to the browser is the new dialog that appears when you add bookmarks to the browser.

While the bookmark gets added right away, you may use the popup to change its location in the bookmarks, and get a visual confirmation that it was added to the browser.

While you did get a confirmation previously as well, as Opera painted the bookmark icon in red to indicate that the page is bookmarked in the browser, it "gives a clearer way of adding bookmarks for users who missed the confirmation".

A click anywhere else while the bookmark popup is open dismisses it.

More video hardware acceleration on Windows

opera hardware video deoding

Opera Software notes that the browser will "send even more videos to the GPU for decoding on Windows".  If it works, it should result in lower battery usage, and higher resolutions and framerates.

Opera users may toggle the feature using the chrome://flags/?search=media#media-windows-mf-demuxer flag.

Other changes

A handful of smaller changes went into Opera 45 Developer as well. Mac users may make the sidebar smaller so that it looks like the one on Windows. This is done via Settings > Browser > Sidebar > Enable Narrow Sidebar.

The browser's built-in advertising blocker was improved as well. If you toggle ad blocking now for instance, you will notice that the active page is reloaded automatically.

Another important change affects the lists that Opera uses to block content on the Web. The new feature gives you control over those lists, so that you may enable or disable them.

Now You: What's your take on the changes in Opera Developer?

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Opera Developer 45 with WhatsApp Messenger integration http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/07/opera-developer-45-with-whatsapp-messenger-integration/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/07/opera-developer-45-with-whatsapp-messenger-integration/#comments Tue, 07 Mar 2017 16:06:30 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130995 Opera Software continues its work on project reborn, a redesign of the Opera web browser that is less platform-specific, and more modern. One of the main features of Opera Developer 44, the first version of the browser that shipped with first bits of the new design, was integration of Facebook Messenger directly in the web […]

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Opera Software continues its work on project reborn, a redesign of the Opera web browser that is less platform-specific, and more modern.

One of the main features of Opera Developer 44, the first version of the browser that shipped with first bits of the new design, was integration of Facebook Messenger directly in the web browser.

Disabled by default, Facebook Messenger support means that Facebook users may sign in to their account using Opera to use the functionality that the web version of Facebook Messenger offers.

The sidebar of the Opera browser supports web panels. This means basically that websites can be loaded in the sidebar so that they are displayed there instead of the main browser window.

This feature is limited to the sites that Opera adds there. You may remember that the Vivaldi web browser is more open when it comes to this, as it allows you to add any site as a panel to Vivaldi's sidebar.

Opera 45.0 WhatsApp Messenger integration

opera 45 whatsapp

The most recent version of the Opera Developer browser, version 45.0, introduces support for WhatsApp Messenger.

Just like Opera Software has done with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp Messenger's web interface is available as a sidebar panel option in the browser (via shortcut Ctrl-Shift-M on Windows)

Integration works similarly to adding a Facebook account. Click on the WhatsApp icon in the sidbar, and then on the open button to open the WhatsApp website in the panel (the Developer version still mentions Facebook Messenger on that page, and needs to be updated).

opera whatsapp

WhatsApp's website displays a code that you need to scan on your phone to link the account on your mobile device to the web version.

Once done, all your WhatsApp chats and groups become available in the Opera browser.

You can pin the panels so that the interface remains on top regardless of what you do.

Note that both services are not enabled by default. This means, no tracking of any kind by the services that Opera integrated into the browser so far.

You may right-click on the sidebar to hide any of the items listed there, including Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

That's the best option if you don't want to use the services from within Opera's sidebar. This can be the case if you don't use these services, or don't want to use them in the sidebar. You can still load them directly in Opera for instance instead to use them directly.

Now You: What's your take on Opera integrating messaging services?

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Opera Browser’s new design revealed http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/16/opera-browsers-new-design-revealed/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/16/opera-browsers-new-design-revealed/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 19:08:23 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130526 Opera Software released the first build of the Opera 44 Developer web browser featuring a refresh of the browser's user interface. The interface refresh is part of the bigger project Reborn which Opera promises to reveal more about in the future. Today's release of Opera 44 Developer is all about the new interface that ships […]

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Opera Software released the first build of the Opera 44 Developer web browser featuring a refresh of the browser's user interface.

The interface refresh is part of the bigger project Reborn which Opera promises to reveal more about in the future.

Today's release of Opera 44 Developer is all about the new interface that ships with the browser. The design has been updated with "a new, high quality graphical design that is less platform-specific" according to Opera.

Tabs are lighter and also more elegant according to the announcement, and the new sidebar is "subtle and refined".

Opera Browser's new design

Here is a screenshot of the current version of the new Opera design.

opera browser new design

Please note that work continues on refining the design and changes, and that some things may look different when Opera Software pushes it to the Stable channel of the browser later this year.

The sidebar has been moved from the Speed Dial page to the main browser window. You can show it there on the left, and enable the features that it offers -- Facebook Messenger, Speed Dial, Bookmarks, Personal News, Browsing History and Extensions -- with a click.

opera sidebar

You may hide the sidebar again as well with a click on the hide button at the bottom.

Facebook Messenger is integrated in Opera's sidebar now in the latest version. This basically adds Messenger.com, the standalone website of Facebook Messenger, as a side tab. You may right-click on Facebook Messenger to hide the entry from the sidebar.

Opera Software plans to add more social services to the browser's sidebar in the future.

You may pin the sidebar so that it stays on top, or display it in an overlay. Pinning places it side by side with the active tab, the overlay overshadows part of the active tab.

The latest version of Opera ships with a light and dark theme. The light theme is enabled by default. To enable the dark theme, load opera://settings/, switch to browser, and select "switch to dark theme" under user interface there.

opera dark theme

The dark theme appears to look not so great on various Linux systems. It is a developer release however, so bugs like these should be expected.

Side note: Opera plans to make changes to the installer it offers. The main installer, offered on the main Opera website, is a zero-click network installer. This means that the installation will run right after you run the program on your system.

So, no selection of the target directory, or selecting to "install" a portable copy of Opera anymore using this installer.

opera offline installer

Opera Software notes that users who want the offline installer, or install Opera as a portable version, may download the USB installer from the company's download page.

You can try out the new design of Opera by downloading the latest Opera Developer version from the official site.

Now You: What's your take on the new design of Opera?

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How to speed up the Opera web browser http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/14/how-to-speed-up-the-opera-web-browser/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/14/how-to-speed-up-the-opera-web-browser/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 06:59:30 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130425 The following guide provides you with information on how to speed up the Opera web browser to improve performance and your overall experience. The "new" Opera web browser is a Chromium-based browser that shares much of its code with Google Chrome. While I have not seen many complaints about the performance or resource use of […]

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The following guide provides you with information on how to speed up the Opera web browser to improve performance and your overall experience.

The "new" Opera web browser is a Chromium-based browser that shares much of its code with Google Chrome. While I have not seen many complaints about the performance or resource use of the browser, there is always room for improvement.

The following tips may help you get the most out of Opera. It may be especially useful if you run Opera on a low end system with little RAM and a weaker processor.

Speed up the Opera web browser

opera performance settings

First thing I suggest you do is go through the preferences of the web browser. This approach is the same that I used for the guide on improving the Vivaldi browser's performance.

Load opera://settings/ in the browser's address bar to get started. You may want to enable the "show advanced settings" and "always show power user settings" options on the Settings page.

Browser

opera browser settings speed up

Select Browser on the Settings page. Make the following adjustments to it:

  • On Startup -- make sure Delay loading of background tabs is enabled. This improves the startup of the browser if the previous session is restored on start.
  • Shortcuts -- If you don't use gestures, disable "enable mouse gestures" and "enable rocker gestures".
  • Personal News -- If you don't use the personal news feature, set the "check my sources for new content" value to never. Disable "show available news feeds on address bar" if you don't require it.
  • User interface -- Disable "show tab previews" and, if you don't use it "enable the search pop-up when selecting text".
  • Themes -- Select a basic theme, e.g. the white background.
  • Battery Saver -- Battery Saver preserves battery when you are using Opera on a device on battery. It will reduce performance however to achieve that. If performance is more important to you, disable battery saver.

Websites

opera website settings

The tweaks under websites depend largely on how you use the browser.

  • Images -- If you can live without images for the most part, consider switching the setting to "do not show any images". This is not recommended for most users, but will improve page load time.
  • Flash -- Make sure Flash is either set to "click to play", or "block sites from running Flash". You can add exceptions for sites that you want Flash to run on.

Privacy & Security

opera privacy

Settings depend large on usability here. You may want to consider enabling ad blocking, and disabling the following options under privacy:

  • Predict network actions to improve page load performance.
  • Help improve Opera by sending feature usage information.
  • Automatically send crash reports to Opera.
  • Fetch images for suggested sources in News, based on history.

Other Tweaks and options

opera task manager

One thing you may want to do is open the built-in Task Manager to monitor memory and cpu usage of the browser, extensions, websites, and the gpu.

It may pay off to keep the Task Manager window open while you use Opera like you would normally. Doing so may reveal bottlenecks or issues, for instance with installed extensions or sites loaded in the browser that impact the browser's performance and speed.

Opera, since it is based on Chromium, supports the same startup parameters like Chromium, Chrome or Vivaldi for the most part.

The following startup parameters may improve the browsing performance. They are the same that improve the speed of the Vivaldi browser.

  • -process-per-site switches from a process per tab model to one that is lighter on resources by bundling all pages of a site into a single process. This saves you memory if you open multiple pages on the same site regularly.
  • -disk-cache-dir=z:\opera\ –disk-cache-size=104857600 moves the disk cache to another drive, and sets it to 100 Megabyte. Especially useful if moved to a faster drive, or a RAM disk.
  • -enable-low-end-device-mode improves memory consumption by making tweaks that benefit lower end devices the most.
  • -enable-low-res-tiling improves performance when scrolling on low end devices.

While you may run Opera with these parameters manually, you may want to add them permanently to the browser's shortcut to improve usability.

You have to right-click on the Opera icon in the taskbar on Windows (or Start Menu, or Desktop), and either select properties right away, or right-click on Opera again before properties becomes available.

Add the startup parameters to the end of the target field, and make sure that there is a space between Opera's file path and name, and the parameters.

Here is an example: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Opera Developer\launcher.exe" –enable-low-end-device-mode

Now You: Feel free to share your Opera speed up tips in the comments below.

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Opera 43: better performance, classic link selection http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/07/opera-43-better-performance-classic-link-selection/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/07/opera-43-better-performance-classic-link-selection/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2017 09:45:14 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130182 Opera Software has just released Opera 43 to the Stable channel introducing performance improvements and classic Opera's link selection method to the browser. The three new features that Opera Software highlights in the new release are instant page loading, PGO for Windows, and classic link selection. You can download the new Opera 43.0 from the […]

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Opera Software has just released Opera 43 to the Stable channel introducing performance improvements and classic Opera's link selection method to the browser.

The three new features that Opera Software highlights in the new release are instant page loading, PGO for Windows, and classic link selection.

You can download the new Opera 43.0 from the Opera website, or use the browser's automatic update feature instead. Type opera://about in the address bar and hit enter to run a manual check for updates. The new version should be picked up and installed automatically at this point then. Please note that a restart is required to complete the process.

Opera 43: What's new

opera 43

Classic link selection is probably the easiest to explain. Basically, what it allows you to do is highlight part or all of a link's text better.

Sometimes when you try to highlight link text to copy it, your action is accidentally recognized by the browser as a click. Since you hold down the mouse button to highlight the text of the link, you end up doing a link dragging action instead of the highlighting action that you intended to to.

With the new classic link feature implemented, this cannot happen anymore as long as you move the mouse cursor horizontally. To drag the link instead, move the cursor vertically instead.

Instant Page Loading

opera prediction

Instant Page Loading, or speculative prerenderer is not an entirely new feature. Opera notes that the feature may shave off up to a second of page loading times.

We have looked at the feature back when speculative prerenderer was first announced by Opera. Basically, what it does is try to predict the link that you will open. Opera preloads the page or service, so that it loads faster when you click on it.

The downside to this is that it wastes resources if you don't click on that link. Also, it may be problematic from a privacy point of view as sites are contacted without user action.

You can disable prerendering in Opera. check out the linked article for instructions on how to do so.

PGO on Windows

Profile Guided Optimizations (PGO) improves the browser startup, page load and new tab page load time. Opera states that browser start is 13% faster, and benchmark results benefit from this as well.

Google, which started to use PGO for Chrome recently as well, stated that Chrome's startup improved by 16%, and the browser's new page load time and new tab page load time by 5% and 14% respectively.

Closing Words

opera chromecast

The bookmark export feature that Opera wanted to introduce in Opera 43 did not make it in the release. Native Chromecast support however is available, but disabled by default.

To enable it load opera://flags/?search=media in the browser's address bar and switch the Media Router preference to enabled, and restart Opera afterwards.

The full changelog is provided on the Opera website. It lists hundreds of fixes, changes and improvements.

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Opera Neon: a new concept browser for the desktop http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/12/opera-neon-a-new-concept-browser-for-the-desktop/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/12/opera-neon-a-new-concept-browser-for-the-desktop/#comments Thu, 12 Jan 2017 13:24:31 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=129190 Opera Software revealed a new concept browser called Opera Neon a moment ago both in a life stream and on the official Opera Blogs website. Opera Neon is a prototype web browser that "envisions the future of web browsers similar to the way concept cars predict the future of automobiles" according to Opera Software. The […]

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Opera Software revealed a new concept browser called Opera Neon a moment ago both in a life stream and on the official Opera Blogs website.

Opera Neon is a prototype web browser that "envisions the future of web browsers similar to the way concept cars predict the future of automobiles" according to Opera Software.

The browser has been built from scratch, and you will notice right from the start that it does things differently than other desktop browsers (including Opera browser for the desktop).

Please note that it is powered by Chromium under the hood.

But first the specs. The initial Opera Neon browser is only available for Windows and Mac devices currently. It cannot be installed or run as a portable version either at this point.

Opera Neon

opera neon

The interface that Opera Neon uses differs from that of other browsers. There is no visible address bar or tab bar for instance when you start it up for the first time.

The screen that opens uses the device's desktop background as its background, and displays a search and address field at the top, and below that round icons that link to popular Internet destinations. You can drag any open tab to the interface to create a new favorite, and remove existing links from the page by hovering over them and clicking on the x-icon that appears next to them.

The only other interface elements are on the left side in a panel of sorts. The menu is listed at the left bottom corner, and the five other icons there do the following:

  1. Open the start interface again to load a new address or one of the favorites.
  2. Player, a media player.
  3. Snap, a screenshot taking tool.
  4. Gallery, which holds previously created screenshots.
  5. Downloads, the downloads history.

Sites that you load open in an overlay on the screen it seems. Once you open at least one site, you will notice that tabs are displayed at the right side of the Neon browser window.

The browser's focus is a representative icon for the site, and not the site's title.

opera neon ghacks

Opera Neon uses an "intelligent system" that manages tabs automatically. Often used tabs are pushed to the top, and less often used tabs are moved to the bottom.

The browser supports several other features of interest. Videos that you open on sites like YouTube are picked up automatically by the Player component. You can click on those videos to use the video pop-out functionality of Opera Neon to watch the video while browsing other sites in Opera Neon.

Opera Neon supports a split-screen mode that allows you to display two pages next to each other on the screen.

Settings are provided, but they are limited. While you get most of Chromium's settings, and advanced settings, that is all there is available right now.

opera neon settings

Closing Words

Opera Neon is surprisingly fast and responsive, and it uses a different interface than other desktop browsers.

While that is interesting, you may also notice that it offers little in terms of customizing the interface. In fact, you cannot customize the interface at all, if you don't count setting a different desktop wallpaper on your device.

Neon does not support extensions, or advanced configuration options that browsers such as Firefox offer.

Considering that it is an experimental browser, it does not necessarily have to offer those.

Now You: What's your first impression of Opera Neon?

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Opera 44: non-MSE video hardware acceleration, malware shortcut blocking http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/05/opera-44-non-mse-video-hardware-acceleration-malware-shortcut-blocking/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/05/opera-44-non-mse-video-hardware-acceleration-malware-shortcut-blocking/#comments Thu, 05 Jan 2017 14:46:03 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=128606 Opera Software has released the first Developer version of the upcoming Opera 44 web browser to the public today. The new development version, a version that is made available for testing purposes mainly, gives a glimpse of new features that will find their way into Opera 44 Stable. Existing Opera Developer installations should pick up […]

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Opera Software has released the first Developer version of the upcoming Opera 44 web browser to the public today.

The new development version, a version that is made available for testing purposes mainly, gives a glimpse of new features that will find their way into Opera 44 Stable.

Existing Opera Developer installations should pick up the new update automatically. You can run a search for updates manually by loading opera://about/ in the browser's address bar, or download the latest version from the official Opera website instead.

Opera 44

Four new features of Opera 44 were showcased by Opera Software today: Touch Bar support on Macs, support for the Credential Management API, support for hardware acceleration for non-MSE video streams, and malware shortcut blocking.

Mac: Touch bar UI

This new feature is only available on Mac devices that support the new Touch Bar. Apple introduced the feature in the most recent MacBook Pro refresh, and Opera Software plans to take advantage of it.

So, if you are an Opera user on a Mac with Touch Bar, you can perform common operations using it.

Opera will use the Touch Bar to allow for common actions such as going back, focusing the address field, or navigating through your Speed Dials and tabs.

If you are on a Mac and don't want the feature, load chrome://flags/#touch-bar-ui and disable it there.

Hardware accelerated non-MSE video

opera video acceleration non mse

Opera supports hardware acceleration for MSE video streams -- the MSE stands for Media Source Extensions -- for some time now. MSE is used by YouTube and other sites to stream media to the user device.

Up until now, hardware acceleration was not used for videos that are not delivered using MSE. Opera has enabled hardware acceleration for non-MSE streams on Windows in Opera 44.

You can check whether you can take advantage of that by loading opera:gpu in the browser and checking the Video Encode parameter on the page. If it reads "hardware accelerated", congratulations, Opera will use the gpu for non-MSE video streams on the device as well.

If you don't see that there, you may want to check whether newer video card drivers are available for the computer you are using.

Hardware acceleration should reduce the power consumption of the device, lower CPU usage while playing videos, and reduce playback issues such as stutters when playing high resolution videos.

Blocking malware shortcuts

opera block malware shortcuts

A new security feature of Opera 44 blocks Opera users from malicious shortcuts that are loaded from third-party applications.

The browser checks links that are spawned from other programs, and will warn users with a prompt if the site in question is deemed malicious.

You can still go ahead and open the site though. Considering that false positives may happen, that is the reasonable approach.

This is only beneficial if Opera is the default web browser for Internet shortcuts though, or if a shortcut is created that opens the site in Opera even though it is not the default browser.

Credential Management API

Opera 44 ships with support for the Credential Management API. The API more or less streamlines credential management in browsers and on sites that support it.

The credential management API provides a mean for a website to control storing and filling in of credentials for a site. The site can use password based sign-ins or federated sign-ins, such as Google or Facebook account, via the API.

Now You: What's your take on the new features and improvements in Opera 44?

 

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Opera Max gets new VIP mode http://www.ghacks.net/2016/12/22/opera-max-gets-new-vip-mode/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/12/22/opera-max-gets-new-vip-mode/#comments Thu, 22 Dec 2016 13:23:23 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=127457 Opera Software announced today that Opera Max, a free VPN application for Android, crossed the 50 million active user mark after hitting 10 million active users in May of 2016. The company revealed a new Opera Max VIP mode on top of that which provides users of the app with another use option. As you […]

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Opera Software announced today that Opera Max, a free VPN application for Android, crossed the 50 million active user mark after hitting 10 million active users in May of 2016.

The company revealed a new Opera Max VIP mode on top of that which provides users of the app with another use option.

As you may know already, the company switched on a time-limited mode in November 2016 which enables the VPN for up to 12 hours.

This forced users of the app to add time to their VPN time quota regularly. My assumption back then was that Opera Software did that first and foremost for generating ad views as it added ads to the "add time" page of the application.

While I don't mind seeing ads if the service that is provided is good enough, Ghacks for instance survives because of ads as well, I disliked this nagging feature because it made life difficult for users of the application.

While the active user growth is something to really get exciting about, it is likely that Opera lost users because of this as well. Some who might dislike that they are forced to open the application to "add time" to their quote regularly, others because of the ads themselves, and another group because there is no subscription option available to get rid of the ads and the time restrictions.

Opera Max VIP mode

VIP-mode

Opera Max's new VIP mode gives users who fall into the first category a way out. The new mode can be enabled from within the application. Once done, Opera Max can be used without time restrictions.

This means that you won't have to recharge the time quota regularly anymore when you are using the application.

The downside to this is that Opera Max will display an advertisement on the phone's charge screen whenever it is charged.

But now, with the all-new VIP mode, you can get unlimited savings and privacy without topping up your timer. In exchange, an ad will show up on your charge screen. This will be visible on the lockscreen, but only when your phone is plugged in to charge.

Here is how that looks like:

opera max vip mode

The ad screen was displayed on my phone after I unlocked it. The lockscreen itself was untouched by the change.

So, you get ads that are "more in your face" than before but also unlimited access to Opera Max so that you don't have to add time regularly to your quote anymore.

Note that the lock screen ads are displayed even when Opera Max is not running.

Now You: Which mode do you prefer, and why?

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Opera 42 Stable with Currency Converter http://www.ghacks.net/2016/12/13/opera-42-stable-with-currency-converter/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/12/13/opera-42-stable-with-currency-converter/#comments Tue, 13 Dec 2016 08:00:13 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=126697 Opera 42, the new stable version of the web browser by Opera Software, ships today with a built-in currency converter and other changes. Opera Software appears to be on an innovation spree. The company released several interesting features like Battery Saver,  Browser VPN or a built-in ad-blocker in recent time that set the browser apart […]

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Opera 42, the new stable version of the web browser by Opera Software, ships today with a built-in currency converter and other changes.

Opera Software appears to be on an innovation spree. The company released several interesting features like Battery SaverBrowser VPN or a built-in ad-blocker in recent time that set the browser apart from others.

This drive to bring new features to the Opera browser continues with version 42, released today to the stable channel.

Existing Opera Stable users should get update notifications right now or soon. You may run a manual check for updates with a click on Menu > About Opera. New versions of the browser can also be downloaded directly from Opera Software's website.

Opera 42

opera 42 currency converter

The big new feature of Opera 42 is the built-in currency converter. The feature works similar to that of browser add-ons such as Converter for Firefox but built-in so that it is available right from the start.

The feature is enabled by default, and works by highlighting price information on websites. Opera displays the converted amount then in an overlay on the page.

There are a couple of things that you need to know about this feature. First, you may configure the feature in Opera's options:

  1. Load opera://settings in the browser's address bar.
  2. Select Browser from the menu on the left.
  3. Scroll down until you come to the user interface section.
  4. There you find the "On text selection convert currency to" option.

opera currency converter

You can disable the feature there if you have no need for it. This is the case if you don't shop in other regions for instance, or if you notice issues when the feature is enabled.

The second option that you have is to change the target currency. The browser supports a good 30 currencies including USD, EUR, CHF, JPY, GBP and more.

The Opera browser pulls the values from the European Central Bank (based on daily values, not real-time).

Opera 42 Newsreader changes

The new browser version ships with feed discovery improvements. You may see a new newspaper icon in the browser's address bar when a site supports RSS feeds. A click on the icon displays all feeds found by the browser.

opera feed discovery

A left-click opens the feed in the Personal News section of the browser, a right-click the usual options to open or copy the link among other things.

The icon indicates if new content is available as well when you are on the site.

Both options can be configured in the settings:

  1. Load opera://settings in the browser's address bar.
  2. Switch to browser, and scroll down until you find the personal news section.

opera newsreader configuration

There you can disable the feed discovery option completely, and change the interval in which Opera checks sources for new content.

Other changes in Opera 42

  1. Web applications may synchronize data in the background starting in Opera 42.
  2. Opera 42 improves the startup improvements of Opera 41 further by taking recently used tabs into account when determining which tabs to load on start of the browser.
  3. Push notifications support.
  4. Network Installer for 64-bit Opera with upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit during installation.

You can check out the full list of changes on the Changelog42 page on the Opera website.

Now You: What's your take on Opera 42 and its new features?

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Opera’s speculative prerenderer http://www.ghacks.net/2016/12/05/operas-speculative-prerenderer/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/12/05/operas-speculative-prerenderer/#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:29:14 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=126567 Opera Software integrated what it calls an address bar speculative prerenderer in Opera 43 to speed up the loading of resources from the address bar. We talked about this back when the developer version of Opera hit version 43, but did not know much about the feature as Opera did not reveal an awful lot […]

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Opera Software integrated what it calls an address bar speculative prerenderer in Opera 43 to speed up the loading of resources from the address bar.

We talked about this back when the developer version of Opera hit version 43, but did not know much about the feature as Opera did not reveal an awful lot of information about it.

Back then, we knew that it used an algorithm to speed up the loading of addressed that get typed or suggested by starting the loading before you select the result.

This makes sense for some resources. If you type ghacks.net in the browser all the time, and never something else that starts with the first two characters "gh", then it is almost certain that you want to type ghacks.net the next time as well to load the site.

Address bar speculative prerenderer

Opera Software's Daniel Bratell revealed additional information about the new speculative prerendered feature in Opera 43 in a new blog post today.

First the good news: if the algorithm gets it right, page load time is reduced by about a second. Opera notes that the actual improvement depends largely on how predictable the user's actions are.

We expect this feature to results in an average of 1 second faster loads from the address bar. That means that instant page loads become much more common. Of course this depends a lot on how predictable the user is and how fast the user is. I expect you who read this to benefit less than the average user, but I might be wrong.

It is obviously easier to predict actions for users who visit a handful of sites regularly. If all you do is go to eBay, Amazon, a newspaper website, YouTube, and maybe Google, then it is easy enough to predict that you will go there the next time as well.

If you happen to visit dozens of new sites each day, then it is a lot harder to predict the next move.

Prerender Monitoring

opera predictors

Opera 43 ships with two monitoring options that provide you with access to prerendering data.

  1. opera://predictors/ -- This internal page lists provides you with information on action predictions. It displays resources, and whether the algorithm got the prediction right or wrong. You also find the confidence level listed there for each of the resources.
  2. opera://net-internals/#prerender -- The second internal page lists the prerender history. It highlights which resources got prerendered by the browser.

Prerender Preferences

opera prediction

There are good reasons for not wanting Opera to prerender anything. Any miss in regards to the page the user opens wastes bandwidth as a page gets loaded that the user won't access.

Another issue is that your IP address may end up in the log of sites that you may not want to be associated with. Additionally, if your country records connections of all citizens and thinks that is a good idea, that connection may end up in that database as well.

While you may gain improved loading times from the feature it if works more often than not, you may want to disable it nevertheless because of the negative implications.

  1. Load opera://settings/ in the browser.
  2. Switch to Privacy.
  3. Remove the checkmark from Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar.
  4. Remove the checkmark from Predict network actions to improve page load performance.
  5. Load opera://flags/?search=render#prerender-search-results and set the feature to disabled.
  6. Load opera://flags/?search=render#prerender-url-input and set the feature to disabled.

You may also enable battery saving mode permanently to block the new prerender feature as Opera disables it if Battery Saver mode is enabled.

Some studies indicate about 80% of prerendered pages become used, which means that 20% of the prerender page loads are for nothing and has wasted electrons. Therefore we don’t do this in battery saving mode (could argue that we should still do it).

Now You: Preloading yay or nay, what is your opinion?

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Key Opera Software Employees quit http://www.ghacks.net/2016/11/19/key-opera-software-employees-quit/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/11/19/key-opera-software-employees-quit/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 06:38:07 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=126268 If you are following members of Opera Software's Developer Relations team on Twitter or elsewhere, you may have noticed that most announced that they left the company recently or are about to leave it. Bruce Lawson, Andreas Bovens, Shwetank Dixit and Vadim Makeev all announced in the past couple of days that they have parted […]

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If you are following members of Opera Software's Developer Relations team on Twitter or elsewhere, you may have noticed that most announced that they left the company recently or are about to leave it.

Bruce Lawson, Andreas Bovens, Shwetank Dixit and Vadim Makeev all announced in the past couple of days that they have parted ways with Opera Software or are about to.

In fact, the only DevReal member left standing is Mathias Bynens who joined Opera Software in January 2014.

  • Bruce Lawson was Opera Software's Deputy Chief Technology Officer and worked at the company since 2008.
  • Andreas Bovens was Opera Software's Android Product Manager and Dev Relations Lead. He worked at the company since 2007.
  • Shwetank Dixit was Opera Software's Extensions Program Manager and Web Evangelist. He worked at Opera since 2007.
  • Vadim Makeev worked as a Web Evangelist at Opera Software since 2009.

Opera Software's DevRel Team quits

opera software leaving

Are there any indicators why the team left? Three of the four posted the information on Twitter. They did not reveal why they are leaving or left Opera Software, only that they did and that they are looking for new job opportunities.

This, and the fact that they have all quit at around the same time, suggests that the decisions have been recent and not planned for a long time.

There was one major change recently, the acquisition of Opera Software's browser and Opera Max by a Chinese consortium.

Bruce Lawson more of less confirms that the acquisition has something to do with him leaving the company in a blog post on his personal blog.

After Opera’s consumer products (browsers and Opera Max) were taken over by a Chinese consortium on 4 November, Opera and I are parting ways by mutual agreement. I’m no longer a representative or spokesman for Opera products, or the Opera brand.

It seems likely that the other team members of Opera's DevRel team based their decision on that as well but this has not been confirmed by the team members leaving or by Opera Software.

All quitting team members are looking for new jobs. All four are highly experienced with lots of expertise and knowledge. While there should be plenty of opportunities for each of them, it would not be much of a surprise if they ended up working for another "web browser" producing company.

Which company that could be? Microsoft for one. The company tries to stay in the game with its Edge browser, and while it certainly has good developers, adding one or multiple experienced members to the team should certainly give it a boost.

Mozilla would probably be the better fit for the team members, but it is unclear right now whether there are any openings there.

Now You: What's your take on key members leaving Opera Software?

 

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Opera 43: faster, bookmarks export, and more http://www.ghacks.net/2016/11/07/opera-43-faster-bookmarks-export-and-more/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/11/07/opera-43-faster-bookmarks-export-and-more/#comments Mon, 07 Nov 2016 20:22:05 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=126053 Opera Software published the first preview version of Opera 43 to the Developer Channel today. The company plans to ship Opera 43 with a whole array of new features that include native Chromecast support, performance improvements, bookmarks exporting, Opera 12 link selection behavior and more. The new Opera 43 Developer release is as usually available […]

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Opera Software published the first preview version of Opera 43 to the Developer Channel today. The company plans to ship Opera 43 with a whole array of new features that include native Chromecast support, performance improvements, bookmarks exporting, Opera 12 link selection behavior and more.

The new Opera 43 Developer release is as usually available for download on the Opera website. Opera users who have installed it already may have been upgraded to the new version automatically if automatic updates are enabled.

You can verify the version of the browser by loading opera://about/ in Opera's address bar. If you see Opera Developer 43.0 on the page that opens you are already on the newest version of the browser.

Opera 43

opera 43 developer

Opera Software follows in Google's footsteps by enabling Profile Guided Optimizations (PGO) on Windows. Google announced this last month and claimed that enabling the feature would improve the browser's startup, page load and new tab page load time by 16%, 5%, and 14% respectively.

Opera Software did not reveal how much faster Opera 43 is because of PGO but it seems likely that it will have about the same improvements as Chrome considering that the two browsers share much of their code base.

Announced features that are not implemented yet

First, some features that Opera wants to introduce in version 43 but has not yet implemented in the first Developer edition.

Opera 43 will feature classic Opera 12 link selection. This means basically that you can select links just like you select text in the browser (without having to fear that you click on the link accidentally which can happen if you want to select part of the link text only). If you move the mouse horizontally, link text is selected, and if you move it vertically instead, the link is dragged.

This feature does not work properly in the first developer version as you will notice that both mouse movements drag the link.

Another requested feature is the exporting of bookmarks. Opera Software plans to introduce it with version 43 of the browser.

You find it under Bookmarks > Export Bookmarks once it is enabled. For now, it is not available. Bookmarks can be saved as a .html file on the local system using the feature.

Native Chromecast Support

opera chromecast

A feature that is already available is native Chromecast support. You do need to enable it though first as it is hidden behind a flag currently.

  1. Load opera://flags/?search=media in the browser's address bar.
  2. Locate the Media Router experiment on the page.
  3. Use the menu of the flag to enable it.
  4. Restart Opera.

Address Bar Speculative pre-rendering

Opera 43 will pre-render (meaning load in the background) websites that you have loaded using its address bar in the past.

If you always type ghacks.net in the address bar to load my site, Opera 43 will recognize that eventually and start loading the site before you have completed typing the address.

This speeds up the loading time of sites as they are loaded while you are still busy typing the address.

Opera notes that this is also done for searches, but does not provide many details on that unfortunately.

It is unclear right now if the feature can be turned off. It could be linked to "predict network actions to improve page load performance" in the Opera Settings, but I have yet to confirm that this is indeed the case.

Now You: What's your take on the features?

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Opera Max gets a nagging feature http://www.ghacks.net/2016/11/01/opera-max-gets-a-nagging-feature/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/11/01/opera-max-gets-a-nagging-feature/#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2016 06:38:19 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=125906 The most recent version of Opera Max, a free VPN app for Android, adds time limitations to the service which require users to become active to continue benefiting from Opera Max. Opera Max is without the shadow of a doubt one of the better free VPN solutions for Android. It is easy to setup and […]

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The most recent version of Opera Max, a free VPN app for Android, adds time limitations to the service which require users to become active to continue benefiting from Opera Max.

Opera Max is without the shadow of a doubt one of the better free VPN solutions for Android. It is easy to setup and does not limit you in terms of data that you may transfer before you are either asked to pay up or wait for the next period to begin.

The functionality that Opera Max provides goes beyond tunneling your Internet connection through company servers though; the app may reduce bandwidth when you are streaming music or stream video content, ships with a privacy mode that reveals apps that communicate with third-party servers (and may be used to block the communication), and may block any app from Internet access.

The nagging feature

opera max nag

You could use Opera Max up until now for as long as you liked. Install the app, turn on the data compression feature once and keep it running in the background for days, weeks or longer.

The new version of Opera Max changes that as it limits access to 12 hour periods. While this may sound bad at first, it is not the end of the world either.

When you enable Opera Max after installing or upgrading to the new version, you are informed that you have 11:59:xx hours left. Opera Max notifies you when you are about to run out of time so that you can refresh the time by opening the app and tapping on the "add time" button in the interface.

You are redirected to a new page whenever you do so that informs you about that, and displays an ad to you on top of that.

What's interesting about this is that you can do this repeatedly to add several 12 hour periods to your quota.

Why did Opera make the change?

While Opera did not release a statement why it changed the way Opera Max works, a likely explanation is to increase ad views and thus revenue.

It is clear that the operation of Opera Max is not free and that Opera pays for servers and infrastructure. Since there is no Opera Max Pro version available, Opera Software won't make any money from that which leaves advertisement as the main source of revenue.

The problem was that users did not have to open Opera Max regularly in previous versions. Once installed and enabled, Opera Max could run in the background all the time without the user ever opening the app again.

The new limitation pushes ad views and makes the use of Opera Max less comfortable in the process. This is especially problematic for Android users who use Opera Max all the time, and not only occasionally.

It would not surprise me if Opera Software would introduce Opera Max Pro in the near future that does away with time limited access for a yearly subscription fee.

Now You: Do you use Opera Max or other VPN or proxy solutions?

 

 

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Opera 41 Stable is out http://www.ghacks.net/2016/10/25/opera-41-stable/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/10/25/opera-41-stable/#comments Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:11:57 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=125710 Opera Software has just released Opera 41, a new stable version of the popular cross-platform browser for all supported desktop operating systems. Probably the biggest new feature of Opera 41 is the improvement in startup time that the browser ships with. According to Opera Software, Opera 41 shows an improvement of up to 86% in […]

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Opera Software has just released Opera 41, a new stable version of the popular cross-platform browser for all supported desktop operating systems.

Probably the biggest new feature of Opera 41 is the improvement in startup time that the browser ships with. According to Opera Software, Opera 41 shows an improvement of up to 86% in startup time when compared to previous versions.

The improvement in startup time decreases with a decreasing number of tabs that session restore needs to load. For a set of about 10 tabs, it is still above 50% according to Opera Software.

This is achieved by a new prioritization function that concentrates on loading pinned tabs and the active tab first on start. All other tabs open in Opera 41 are loaded with lower priority, and Opera Software notes that startup feels near instant for users when Opera is configured to load the previous browsing session.

Opera 41 Stable

opera 41

These improvements are only beneficial on systems where Opera is configured to load the previous browsing session. Users who load a single homepage on each start, or start with a blank page, won't see any of the improvements. Then again, Opera should start pretty fast on those machines already.

Opera 41 Faster Startup

Opera 41 ships with two additional improvements that will benefit some users. First, Opera 41 promises better battery time when video conferencing via WebRTC by prioritizing hardware-acceleration supporting codecs when available.

Additionally, Opera may try to limit the pixel count when in the browser's battery saving mode if possible to reduce CPU usage during video conferencing.

The second improvement benefits the browser's new video pop-out mode. As you may know, you can use Opera to pop-out videos to play them in their on little window instead of the main browser window. This allows you to play the video in a smaller play area, and continue using the browser or other programs at the same time.

The mode is fully hardware accelerated in Opera 41 which means that the CPU is used less when the mode is active. According to Opera Software, video pop-out uses roughly 30% less CPU in Opera 41.

Last but not least, several improvements went into the Personal News reader of Opera. Among the many changes are previews of feeds, options to add feeds even if the exact RSS feed URL is not known, and a reduction in recommendations.

In case you are wondering, no word on the 64-bit version of Opera Stable for Windows. Opera Software did mention previously however that it plans to launch 64-bit builds when Opera 42 Stable gets released.

Check out our Opera 41 Beta guide to find out more about the newly launched features. The guide offers instructions on how to manage these features which you may find useful if you run into issues using them.

You find additional information about Opera 41 on the official Opera Desktop blog. And if you are interested in a full list of changes, check out the changelog.

Now You: Have you tried Opera 41? What's your take on the new version?

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Opera Max’s new Privacy Mode http://www.ghacks.net/2016/10/10/opera-maxs-new-privacy-mode/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/10/10/opera-maxs-new-privacy-mode/#comments Mon, 10 Oct 2016 19:23:41 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=125456 Opera Software has started the roll out of a new Privacy Mode feature for the data compression application Opera Max for Android. Privacy Mode goes hand in hand with Opera Max's data compression functionality. As you may know, all traffic is tunneled through Opera servers using Opera Max. This is done primarily to reduce data […]

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Opera Software has started the roll out of a new Privacy Mode feature for the data compression application Opera Max for Android.

Privacy Mode goes hand in hand with Opera Max's data compression functionality. As you may know, all traffic is tunneled through Opera servers using Opera Max. This is done primarily to reduce data usage, and was first introduced back in 2013 as a standalone version of Opera's Off-Road mode.

Opera Software improved Opera Max several times since then. New functionality included options to block apps from using WiFi or Data connections, Netflix video stream savings, and music streaming savings.

Private Mode

dont-let-apps-spy-1

The new Private Mode feature falls in line with Opera's strategy to bolster security and privacy in its browsers and applications.

The company launched an ad-blocker not long ago in the Opera browser for instance.

The new version of Opera Max ships with a privacy timeline designed to make the data usage of applications more transparent to the user.

One of the big issues that privacy conscious Android users phase is that it is difficult to find out which applications invade privacy, and which don't.

Opera Max keeps track of that using the popular EasyPrivacy filter list. Basically, what happens is that Opera Max checks if an application tries to connect to any of the servers listed on the filter list, and if it does, records that activity.

The timeline lists  those activities in chronological order, and provides information about the number of total requests.

Opera Max rates each request as a high, medium, or low risk for each app individually when you tap on an app name in the timeline.

To see real-time privacy alerts, we encourage you to scroll up and down the privacy mode timeline regularly and also tap on individual timeline cards to see the “privacy breakdown” of what an app did in a particular session. This is a useful tool to let you know when your apps put your private data at risk.

The new version of Opera Max features an encryption option on top of that. Opera does not reveal a lot about it, only that you may activate it in the new version with the tap of the button to protect traffic while connected to a public Wi-Fi network.

Now, with privacy mode in the new version of Opera Max, you can encrypt your app data and browsing traffic on Wi-Fi with a tap of a button. This offers you an additional layer of privacy and security so that you can have peace of mind when connecting your phone to public Wi-Fi networks.

The new update rolls out currently with no word on when it is available for all Android devices.

One downside to using Opera Max is that the app collects quite a bit of data itself as outlined in the privacy policy. This includes among other things unique identifiers, installed software, device characteristics, location and mobile carrier information, and URLs you visit.

Closing Words

Users of Opera Max will certainly find the new features useful as they provide information on the application's that connect to tracking servers, and may provide extra security when connected to public or unsecure networks.

Now You: Do you use Opera Max or another data compression / privacy information service?

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Opera 41: performance improvements, Windows 64-bit builds http://www.ghacks.net/2016/10/04/opera-41-performance-windows-64-bit/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/10/04/opera-41-performance-windows-64-bit/#comments Tue, 04 Oct 2016 12:58:07 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=125346 Opera Software released a new beta of Opera 41 to the public yesterday that promises performance improvements in several key areas. In short, Opera 41 starts up about 48% faster, decreases cpu usage by 30% when using video pop-out functionality, and reduces battery consumption during video conferences by 30% as well. Tip: in case you […]

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Opera Software released a new beta of Opera 41 to the public yesterday that promises performance improvements in several key areas.

In short, Opera 41 starts up about 48% faster, decreases cpu usage by 30% when using video pop-out functionality, and reduces battery consumption during video conferences by 30% as well.

Tip: in case you have not yet, read our Opera 40 release guide that covers all major new features in the browser.

So how is that achieved? Lets find out!

Browser startup time improvements

Opera used the same startup mechanic as Google Chrome. This should not come as a surprise as it shares much of its code with the Google browser.

Google Chrome loads all open tabs by default when you start the browser. If you have one, ten or one-hundred tabs open, they all get loaded during startup. This may slow down the browser as you can imagine.

Other browsers, Firefox for instance, use lazy load tech to load only the active tab on start. The method speeds up the start of the browser significantly and reduces lag during that time on top of that.

Opera 41 ships with a similar system that prioritizes the active tab and pinned tabs during browser start. The start of background tabs is delayed in Opera 41 and newer which reduces browser start time by about 48% according to Opera Software.

opera41 startup time

As always, your mileage may vary depending on how many sites you have pinned, how many background tabs you have, and the active tab.

A test performed by Opera Software on Opera 41 with 10 browser tabs saved as a session reduced the cold start and hot start up time by about a second

The feature is only beneficial to Opera users who have configured the web browser to load the last session on start.

opera delay background tabs loading

The lazy loading or delayed loading of background tabs in Opera can be disabled in the preferences:

  1. Load opera://settings/ in the browser's address bar.
  2. Select Browser on the left.
  3. Scroll down and enable "show advanced settings".
  4. Go back to Basic.
  5. Remove the checkmark from "delay loading of background tabs".

Video Conferencing improvements

opera41 video conference battery time

Opera 41 supports hardware acceleration when it comes to video codec use in the browser. This means that the browser will make use of hardware acceleration by default when doing video conferencing via WebRTC.

According to Opera Software, this improves battery time by 30% in Opera 41.

Please note that this will only kick in if Battery Saver mode is enabled. Opera users may disable hardware acceleration in the browser in the following way:

  1. Load opera://settings/ in the browser's address bar.
  2. Switch to the Browser section.
  3. Scroll all the way down until you find system.
  4. Remove the checkmark from "Use hardware acceleration when available".

Video pop-out Improvements

opera41 hardware accelerated video pop-out

Opera 41 uses hardware acceleration if supported for its video pop-out feature as well. Video pop-out, introduced in Opera 37, allows you to display videos embedded on sites in a small window that acts independently.

Opera states that hardware accelerated video pop-out uses up to 30% less cpu.

Windows 64-bit version

Opera Software plans to launch a 64-bit version of Opera Stable when the stable channel reaches version 42.

Personal News

opera 40 rss

Personal News was introduced in May of this year in Opera, and improved shortly thereafter in Opera 40.

The feature is a RSS / news reader that is built-in to the Opera browser. While not as flexible or sophisticated as standalone RSS readers, it may do for users who prefer to have news attached to the browser directly.

Opera continues its work on Personal News in Opera 41. Among the many changes is an option to enter any url to have the module pick up any RSS feed available at the URL, history navigation, web feed previews, and less recommendations.

Now You: Have you tried Opera 41 already? What's your take on the new version?

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Opera for Android redesigned http://www.ghacks.net/2016/09/25/opera-for-android-redesigned/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/09/25/opera-for-android-redesigned/#comments Sun, 25 Sep 2016 06:00:34 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=125125 Opera Software started to roll out an update for its stable Opera browser for Android that ships with a redesigned user interface among other things. According to Opera Software, the new look is "fresh, modern, and inspired by Android's material design". The new version is not a complete redesign of the mobile browser though. When […]

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Opera Software started to roll out an update for its stable Opera browser for Android that ships with a redesigned user interface among other things.

According to Opera Software, the new look is "fresh, modern, and inspired by Android's material design".

The new version is not a complete redesign of the mobile browser though. When you start it you get the familiar look and feel of Opera on Android.

You may notice however some changes. There is the new bottom bar for instance that sports forward, back and reload buttons, the home button, the tab switcher, and a new user page.

Opera for Android redesigned

opera android redesign

Another change that you may notice right away is that Speed Dial is now on the left next to Feed which is on the right.

The feed lists stories that you may be interested in. One new feature there is the ability to use reader mode when reading feeds.

You can enable this for individual articles, or set it to always enabled in the settings. If you want to do the latter, tap on the three dots, select the settings icon, and set "set reader mode as default" to enabled on the page that opens.

The bottom bar is permanently visible, and there is no option currently to hide it. It features a new personal corner icon on the right side which leads to bookmarks, offline pages, the browsing history and downloads.

You may also sign in from there to have data synced across devices (speed dial, bookmarks, tabs and typed history).

The main menu has changed as well. When you tap on it, you find options to add the page to speed dial, the bookmarks or offline pages, use find on page functionality, or share the actual page.

There is also the data savings option that you may enable. If you do, you are taken to a configuration page to configure features such as ad blocking, video compression, or the desired image and multimedia quality.

The new version of Opera for Android still rolls out to all users. This means that you may have to wait days or even longer before you get the update. If you want to play around with it right now, check out Opera Beta for Android instead.

Closing Words

The biggest change in the new Opera for Android version is the bottom bar. One issue that users may have with it is that it takes away screen space all the time since it cannot be disabled permanently.

The only option that you have is to enable full screen mode in the Opera settings. This hides the top and bottom toolbar when you start to scroll on pages.

Now You: What's your take on the redesign?

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Opera 40 Stable released http://www.ghacks.net/2016/09/20/opera-40-stable-released/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/09/20/opera-40-stable-released/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:16:15 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=125011 Opera 40 is the latest version of the Opera desktop browser that brings automatic battery saving, Chromecast support, a built-in browser proxy and other features to the stable channel. We have talked about most of the features that ship with Opera 40 in the past already. The one thing that is new is that these […]

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Opera 40 is the latest version of the Opera desktop browser that brings automatic battery saving, Chromecast support, a built-in browser proxy and other features to the stable channel.

We have talked about most of the features that ship with Opera 40 in the past already. The one thing that is new is that these features are now available to all users of the web browser, and not only users who run development versions of Opera.

Probably the biggest feature of Opera 40 is the new browser proxy -- Opera calls it VPN and we will use the same terminology in this article -- that the browser ships with.

The VPN is not enabled by default, but can be enabled in the preferences. Easiest way to do that is to load opera://settings in the address bar, switch to Privacy & Security when the Settings page opens, and check the "Enable VPN" box on the page.

Please note that enabling the VPN will disable Opera Turbo. Once enabled, VPN is displayed on the left side of the browser's address bar.

opera vpn

A left-click on the icon displays options to disable the VPN, check the data transfer of it, the IP address assigned to your PC, and an option to switch to another location.

Opera VPN supports the five locations United States, Germany, Canada, Netherlands and Singapore currently.

It hides the "real" IP address of the device you are using. The connection speed is quite good. I was able to play 1080p YouTube videos without issues for instance, and Twitch.tv streams played in source quality just as well.

One thing that you cannot use Opera VPN for however is Netflix, as you will get the dreaded "you seem to be using an unblocker or proxy" message when trying to do so.

The VPN adds some extra protection when you are browsing the Internet. Check out this presentation video advertising Opera's VPN.

Opera 40 ships with a big list of under the hood changes that you may find interesting. The battery saving mode supports new power saving settings that allow you to configure thresholds. There is also an estimation of the remaining time on battery capacity.

Load opera://settings, make sure browser is selected and scroll down until you find the battery saver group listing.

You may enable or disable it there, and check the "save battery automatically" option to set a threshold for the feature.

opera battery saver

Other changes

The new Opera 40 web browser supports Google's Chromecast out of the box. You do need to download and install the Download Chrome Extension first in Opera, and then the Google Cast extension from the Chrome store.

Download Chrome Extension allows you to install extensions from Chrome's Web Store directly in Opera.

Once done, you may interact with Chromecast devices as if you were using Google Chrome.

The integrated newsreader supports RSS feeds now. Basically, what you can do now is add any RSS feed to Opera to read it in the browser.

To use the personalized newsreader, click the News icon on the left-hand side of the Speed Dial and then click the “+” button. You can then paste a URL into the search field. Once the URL is recognized as valid source, you can add it.

The browser engine was updated, and the video pop out feature of the browser supports more video sites and players.

You may download Opera 40 from the official website, or run a check for updates if the browser is already installed on your system.

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Opera Portable Installer released http://www.ghacks.net/2016/09/07/opera-portable-installer/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/09/07/opera-portable-installer/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 14:23:03 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=124674 Opera Software, along with the release of Opera 41 to the Developer channel, released the new Opera Portable Installer to improve the process of installing portable versions of the browser. It is not as if Opera Software's installer did not support the portable installation of the Opera browser before. The process was hidden under options […]

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Opera Software, along with the release of Opera 41 to the Developer channel, released the new Opera Portable Installer to improve the process of installing portable versions of the browser.

It is not as if Opera Software's installer did not support the portable installation of the Opera browser before.

The process was hidden under options but it was there. All you had to do was click on the options button when the first page of the installer opened to start the process.

There you had to change the install path to any other path, and switch the install for variable from "all users on this computer" to "stand-alone installation (USB)".

Tip: The same page lets you block the sharing of usage data with Opera.

Opera Portable Installer

opera portable installer

The new Opera Portable Installer offers two advantages over the built-in option to install Opera as a portable browser.

First, Opera is automatically installed as a portable browser. This means that you don't have to dive into options and make changes there to install a portable copy of Opera.

The second advantage is that Opera detects USB storage devices automatically. The installer adjusts the installation path for the portable version of Opera automatically when it detects connected USB storage.

This means that you may not have to pick a custom path for the installation. This works only obviously if you want to run Opera from the USB device.

You may still change the path the browser becomes available under if that is not the case.

The options of Opera Portable Installer are identical to the options provided by the "real" installer. You may change the language of the browser there, and disable the importing of data from the default browser, and the sharing of usage stats with Opera.

opera portable installer options

It is still necessary to open that second page if you want to modify one or several of the settings displayed on it.

Opera Portable Installer is only available for the Developer edition of Opera.  According to Opera, it is a new "revamped version of the Opera Network Installer".

It is unclear if Opera will make the portable installer available for other channels, or if it will remain a Developer channel exclusive.

You can download the latest version of the portable installer for Opera from here.

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Opera Sync Server breach http://www.ghacks.net/2016/08/27/opera-sync-server-breach/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/08/27/opera-sync-server-breach/#comments Sat, 27 Aug 2016 11:21:09 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=124428 Opera informed the public yesterday that it detected an attack on the company's server used for the Opera Sync system. Earlier this week, we detected signs of an attack where access was gained to the Opera sync system. This attack was quickly blocked. Our investigations are ongoing, but we believe some data, including some of […]

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Opera informed the public yesterday that it detected an attack on the company's server used for the Opera Sync system.

Earlier this week, we detected signs of an attack where access was gained to the Opera sync system. This attack was quickly blocked. Our investigations are ongoing, but we believe some data, including some of our sync users’ passwords and account information, such as login names, may have been compromised.

Opera Sync is Opera's synchronization feature. Local data such as login data, bookmarks or tabs is synced with Opera's remote server so that the data is available on any device you sign in with.

The sheer volume of data makes browser sync servers a prime target for attackers much like cloud password managers are.

Data is protected by the user's password but if that password can be guessed or cracked, it provides the attacker with all information stored within.

Opera notes that it only stores encrypted or hashed and salted passwords, but that it has reset all Opoera sync account passwords "as a precaution".

All Opera Sync users affected by the breach have been informed about it via email. The email asks users to change the password to their Sync account as soon as possible.

opera sync reset password

Users are also asked to reset passwords on any third-party site they have stored as login data on Opera Sync as a precaution.

If you are affected by the issue, head over to the password reset page right away to create a new password for the Opera Sync account.

  1. Open the Reset Password page on the Opera website.
  2. Enter your username or email in the form.
  3. Click on the Reset password button to start the process.

You will receive an email with a link pointing to a page where you may change the account password.

According to Opera Software, about 0.5% of all users of the browser make use of Opera Sync. That's 1.7 million in total based on a user base of about 350 million people last month.

Closing Words

Seems to be password reset week. Dropbox reset passwords of some of the company's users as well yesterday.

Users who are using Opera Sync to store third-party login information will have to spend some time resetting passwords on various services they are a member of.

Now You: Are you affected by the issue?

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Opera VPN launches for Android http://www.ghacks.net/2016/08/23/opera-vpn-android/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/08/23/opera-vpn-android/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:51:04 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=124362 Opera Software released its free VPN application for Android today after making it available to iOS devices earlier this year. The company's journey as a VPN provider started with its acquisition of SurfEasy VPN. Opera Software promoted services of SurfEasy shortly thereafter in the Opera desktop browser, and launched a free browser proxy back in […]

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Opera Software released its free VPN application for Android today after making it available to iOS devices earlier this year.

The company's journey as a VPN provider started with its acquisition of SurfEasy VPN. Opera Software promoted services of SurfEasy shortly thereafter in the Opera desktop browser, and launched a free browser proxy back in April 2016.

The iOS application followed in May, and today saw the release of the Android application.

Opera VPN for Android is a VPN client that is free to use. It is provided by SurfEasy, an Opera company.

Tip: Check out the privacy policy and terms of use before you start using the service. Basically, what it states is that you may not use it to break the law or the rights of others, that the service may be limited, modified or discontinued at any time, and that you may be contacted for limited marketing purposes.

Opera VPN for Android

opera vpn android

Installation of the application is straightforward. Since it is a VPN, you will receive a request to set up  a VPN connection on the device. You must accept it or won't be able to use the service at all.

The app displays a short introduction to the features that it makes available. Basically, it offers three features that you may activate from within the app:

  1. Connect to the VPN network. Opera VPN connects to the closest region automatically, but displays options to switch the region once connected. Regions that were available during the test were Canada, USA, Netherlands, Germany, and Singapore.
  2. Wi-Fi Security. You may use this feature to test the security of the wireless network your Android device is connected to. Opera VPN displays the name of the WLAN and its ID, and whether it is protected or not on the screen. The test performs additional look ups and awards a security score at the end (one when connected regularly, and one when connected to Opera VPN).
  3. Guardian. Guardian can be activated to block ad trackers when you are online.

opera vpn wi-fi security

The connection speed was quite good during tests but mileage may vary based on the location you connect to the service, the region you connect to, load at that time and other factors.

A quick test playing videos on YouTube and other services showed that playback was fluent and without buffering issues or other issues.

Since it is a VPN app that runs in the background, all applications you use tunnel their traffic through it.

Closing Words

Opera VPN is a free VPN app for Android that does not look that different than other free VPN apps for Android. The inclusion of the WiFi security test -- with the foreseeable result that the connection is more secure when you use Opera VPN -- and the system-wide tracker blocker are nice to have features.

If you trust Opera Software, there is little reason not to use the company's VPN applications as well. Paid solutions on the other hand offer better privacy, whereas other free solutions usually don't.

 

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Opera promises better memory usage in Opera 39 http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/27/opera-39-better-memory/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/27/opera-39-better-memory/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:29:12 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=123525 Opera announced yesterday that the company has been experimenting with a new memory Heap compaction feature in the Dev and Beta versions of Opera for some time. The new feature promises better memory usage in Opera 39 and newer by adding a heap compaction phase to the browser's memory management functionality. Basically, what the new […]

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Opera announced yesterday that the company has been experimenting with a new memory Heap compaction feature in the Dev and Beta versions of Opera for some time.

The new feature promises better memory usage in Opera 39 and newer by adding a heap compaction phase to the browser's memory management functionality.

Basically, what the new memory management feature does is reduce memory fragmentation of the web browser by adding the heap compaction function to it.

We attacked memory fragmentation by implementing a cheap, single-pass inplace compaction of heaps (picture a “heap” as the “cupboard” in the analogy above). The benefits are two-fold: less heap memory is allocated, and live objects are packed tighter, thereby increasing memory locality and speed of access.

The new function adds two benefits to the browser according to Opera: first, it reduces the amount of heap memory allocated at any given point in time. Second, it improves memory locality and therefore speed of access.

Heap Compaction in Opera 39

Heap compaction

Opera ran some tests on popular sites and noticed noticeable heap size reductions. On The New York Times website, heap size went down to 4.0 MB from 9.0 MB. Similar improvements were measured on Gmail, Amazon or Wikipedia where heap size almost always halved or saw an even better reduction than that.

One should not confuse heap size with overall memory use of the browser though. A quick, unscientific test of my own showed no noticeable improvements in Opera Developer (with heap compaction) over Opera Stable (without heap compaction).

The methodology I used was simple: open x sites in Opera Developer and Stable, and compare memory use in Windows Explorer after a while. Obviously, this is not the best of methodologies and a scientific test would use other memory measurement tools for that and probably some automation on top of that.

This does not mean that there is no improvement though, and it is likely that your mileage will vary depending on the sites you visit and your actions on those sites.

Opera plans to integrate heap compaction in the Blink engine. If the company does that, all other Blink-based browsers, Chrome and Vivaldi for instance, will benefit from the feature as well.

The company has added several new features to its web browser recently. This includes a Battery Saver feature to save battery, a browser proxy to improve user privacy, and a built-in ad blocker.

Now You: How big of a role plays a browser's memory use for you?

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Opera 40 adds RSS Feed functionality http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/21/opera-40-adds-rss-feed-functionality/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/21/opera-40-adds-rss-feed-functionality/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 08:08:52 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=123370 Opera published a new version of Opera Developer today that introduces basic RSS Feed functionality in the web browser. Opera Developer 40.0.2296.0  is out, and you may upgrade to the version if you run a developer version of Opera already or download it from Opera's website directly if you don't or prefer it that way. […]

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Opera published a new version of Opera Developer today that introduces basic RSS Feed functionality in the web browser.

Opera Developer 40.0.2296.0  is out, and you may upgrade to the version if you run a developer version of Opera already or download it from Opera's website directly if you don't or prefer it that way.

The big new feature in the release is support for RSS Feeds. This is not an entirely new feature though, as other browsers support RSS feeds natively as well. Firefox for instance supports live bookmarks which basically list the latest articles posted by a site using RSS.

Opera on the other hand started integration of RSS support in the browser's Personal News feature.

Opera 40 RSS

opera 40 rss

Personal News up until now supported a selection of high profile sites that you could subscribe to. Opera would then poll those sites regularly and display new articles published on them in the personal news section of the browser.

The functionality is quite basic and somewhat hidden right now. Opera displays a search form at the top of the "add sources" page that you used to find news sources. This worked only for the integrated sources up until now.

The latest developer release changes this as it supports RSS Feed urls as well now. Simply paste a feed url into the form and wait for Opera to look it up. The browser displays the feed title afterwards and all that is left to do is click on the plus icon to add it to the list of news sources.

opera rss feed personal news

You may click on the feed, listed with its URL, then afterwards to display recent articles published on the site.

Please note that it may take a moment before the news section is populated the first time after adding a feed.

Custom RSS feeds can be read in timeline and stacked view, and the only difference to the list of integrated news sources is that the reading time is not displayed.

The feature is a bit rough right now but that is understandable considering that it has been integrated in the Developer version. There is no option to import multiple feeds at once for instance, and the removal of feeds is not working properly right now. The workaround for that is to paste the feed url again into the add sources form and untick the box there to have it removed from Opera's personal news feature.

The timeline view may not work properly as well if you combine the feed with other news sources. Last but not least, the feed url is displayed and not the feed name.

In other news, Opera 40 Developer ships with full Chromecast support if you install the Google Cast extension from the store.

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Opera Software sale not happening, sort of http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/18/opera-software-sale-not-happening/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/18/opera-software-sale-not-happening/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2016 11:04:59 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=123245 According to a report on Reuters, the sale of Opera Software to a Chinese consortium is not going to happen. The deal, approved by company boards and shareholders alike, failed to win regulatory approval by July 15. The takeover bid of $1.24 billion US Dollars for all Opera Software assets by a Chinese consortium that […]

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According to a report on Reuters, the sale of Opera Software to a Chinese consortium is not going to happen. The deal, approved by company boards and shareholders alike, failed to win regulatory approval by July 15.

The takeover bid of $1.24 billion US Dollars for all Opera Software assets by a Chinese consortium that includes Qihoo 360 and Kunlun would move huge amounts of data to China.

The deal fell through over user privacy concerns according to a Kunlun spokeswoman. She stated that approval of the deal could delay the acquisition by six to twelve months, and that both parties agreed that it would be better to broker a different deal instead.

Apparently, what US regulators had the most problems with was that advertising businesses and its data. Users of Opera browser product might have a different opinion on that though.

Opera Software and the Chinese consortium hope that the new deal will receive approval fast.

Opera Consumer Business sale

opera browser

The deal? Opera Software sells its consumer business to the Chinese consortium but retains control of the company's advertising business.

Consumer business first and foremost is the Opera web browser for the desktop and mobile devices. The deal does include other Opera applications for the consumer market, for instance Opera Max, a compression app that promises to reduce data traffic when enabled.

While not mentioned explicitly, it could also include the main Opera Software domain opera.com as it acts as the main download and information hub for Opera browser products and other software.

Both parties involved believe that the new deal has a better chance of going through quickly. The deal would turn Opera Software into an advertising company.

It is unclear at this point in time whether the deal would include a change of name. It seems highly unlikely that investors would spend a lot of money on Opera's browser business and apps if it would include a name change as it is a strong brand.

Update: Deal includes Opera name according to Engadget.

Opera shareholders and the Chinese investors are disappointed that the original deal fell through. Opera Software's shares fell to a seven month low after the announcement was made.

The new deal awaits regulatory approval at the time of writing.

The failed deal does not change anything from a consumer perspective as it still means that Opera's browser and apps business will be controlled by Chinese firms if the new deal is approved.

Now You: Would an acquisition change your view of Opera?

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Opera 40 with improved Battery Saver options http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/13/opera-40-with-improved-battery-saver-options/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/13/opera-40-with-improved-battery-saver-options/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 13:44:44 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=123149 Opera launched a new Power Saving mode in Opera 39 to improve the web browser's battery life during mobile use. Opera's own tests showed that the browser's staying powers improved significantly with battery mode enabled. It is still too early to tell how big of an impact battery saver mode makes on day to day […]

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Opera launched a new Power Saving mode in Opera 39 to improve the web browser's battery life during mobile use.

Opera's own tests showed that the browser's staying powers improved significantly with battery mode enabled. It is still too early to tell how big of an impact battery saver mode makes on day to day operations, but it seems clear already that it extends battery life of devices to a degree.

The first version of Battery Saver shipped with little options. Opera displays the battery saver icon in the interface when it notices that the computer is running on Battery.

A click on it displays the interface that enables you to turn the feature off or on. The only option that shipped in Opera 39 was to display the Battery Saver icon all the time in the interface.

Opera 40: More Battery Saver options

opera 40 battery saver

Opera 40 ships with improved Battery Saver options. The browser is currently available on the Developer channel only.

The main change for all users is a new battery left indicator that is displayed when you click on the icon in the Opera toolbar.

Opera made the decision to hide the options behind a flag in the browser stating that they are reserved for experienced users currently.

This is puzzling considering that the options require no degree in computer science. The only explanation that I have, apart from keeping things simple is that Opera may add more options to Battery Saver later on that are designed to give experienced users better control over the feature.

Battery Saver Preferences

battery saver flag

First, here is how you enable the additional Battery Saver preferences in Opera 40:

  1. Load chrome://flags/#power-save-mode-phase2 in Opera's address bar.
  2. Switch the Battery saver - phase 2 flag to Enabled.
  3. Restart the browser once done.

The new options become available on opera://settings/ after the restart. Scroll down until you find the Battery Saver listing. The following options are listed underneath it currently:

  • Enable Battery Saver: Defines whether Battery Saver is enabled by default.
  • Always show battery icon on the toolbar.
  • Save battery automatically when unplugged. This gives you options to define when Battery Saver is enabled by the browser. You may set it to always, which turns it on whenever the device is unplugged, or at 80%, 50% or 20%.

The new options give you more control over the feature. It would be great if you could enter a custom value instead of one of the available ones. Also, it would be useful if the browser would highlight the difference Battery Saver makes when enabled by displaying how long the device would run with and without it.

Opera introduced several interesting features in the browser recently. It added a browser proxy for improved privacy, and a native ad blocker as well.

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Opera 40 new Search popup feature http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/04/opera-40-search-popup/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/07/04/opera-40-search-popup/#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2016 16:59:10 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=122950 Opera Software launched a new feature in Opera 40 Developer edition recently that introduces a new Search popup feature in the browser. Opera displays a small popup next to text that you select in the browser. The popup displays actions to copy the text selection or run a search for it. The selection of search […]

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Opera Software launched a new feature in Opera 40 Developer edition recently that introduces a new Search popup feature in the browser.

Opera displays a small popup next to text that you select in the browser. The popup displays actions to copy the text selection or run a search for it.

The selection of search runs a search in a new tab using the default search engine of the Opera browser.

Copy, as you can imagine, simply copies the text to the Clipboard of the operating system.

The feature requires no extra clicks, a right-click for instance on the selection to display those options. Opera displays options to search or copy the context when you right-click on a selection.

Opera Search Popup

opera 40 search popup

The feature has been part of mobile operating systems, apps and browsers for some time. It makes sense on mobile devices that ship without mouse, as it simplifies text interaction.

Search popup may speed up things on the desktop as well, especially if a touch-enabled device is used.

You may notice however that the right-click menu is not displayed when the Search popup menu is active. Since it is active automatically whenever you select text, it basically blocks the right-click menu from the browser in these situations.

That's a problem as the right-click menu offers other options besides sending searches to the default saerch engine or copying the text. For instance, you may use it to send searches to other search engines, print the selected text, or inspect the selected element.

Another issue that Opera is aware of is that the search and copy popup is not DPI scaled.

Opera 40 is currently a developer version, and it is possible that Search popup will be improved before it lands on the stable browser channel.

opera disable search popup

Opera seems to be aware of this; an option to disable Search popup is available. Opera users who don't want to use Search popup can disable it in the browser's preferences.

  1. Load opera://settings/ in the browser's address bar to open the Settings.
  2. Switch to the Browser section when the Settings page opens.
  3. Scroll down until you find the User interface section.
  4. Locate "enable the search popup on selecting text" and remove the checkmark of the option.

The Search popup functionality is disabled once you disable the feature. You may enable it at any point in time by repeating the steps listed above, and checking the box again.

Now You: Do you find the feature useful?

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Opera 38: Find out what is new http://www.ghacks.net/2016/06/08/opera-38/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/06/08/opera-38/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:48:51 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=122272 Opera 38 Stable was released on June 8, 2016. It features a new power saver mode as well as other improvements. The new Opera browser version is already available, and users can update the stable version of the browser using automatic updates, or by downloading a copy from the Opera website. You can perform a […]

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Opera 38 Stable was released on June 8, 2016. It features a new power saver mode as well as other improvements.

The new Opera browser version is already available, and users can update the stable version of the browser using automatic updates, or by downloading a copy from the Opera website.

You can perform a manual check for updates in Opera by loading chrome://about. This reveals the current version, and whether an update is available.

If an update is detected, it will be downloaded automatically and installed thereafter.

Opera 38

opera 38

The core new feature in Opera 38 is a Power Saver mode. I reviewed Opera's Power Saver mode when it was launched in the Developer Edition of the web browser, and suggest you check it out for details on how it works.

Basically, what it does is offer to save power when the device is not plugged in so that it can be used for a longer period of time without requiring to be charged.

Opera modifies several under the hood parameters when you enable Power Saver mode in the browser.

  • Reduce background tab activity.
  • Wake cpu less often.
  • Pause unused plugins automatically.
  • Frame Rate is capped to 30 frames per second.
  • Video playback parameters are tuned, and use of hardware accelerated video codecs is enforced.
  • Animations of browsers themes are paused.

Opera displays a battery icon in the browser's address bar when the power cable of the device is unplugged. A click on it displays the power saving controls which you use to turn the feature on or off.

opera power saver

According to Opera, Power Saver may prolong battery life by up to 50% when enabled when compared to Google Chrome (with ad blocking enabled).

It is important to note that mileage may vary, and that we have no independent benchmarks right now.

Opera Software published a video that demonstrates the effectiveness of Power Saver in Opera by comparing a version of Opera with Power Save enabled to one with Power Saver disabled.

An added benefit of using Power Saver is that the chance of overheating drops as the device won't get as warm when Power Saver mode is enabled.

According to Opera, a laptop running Opera with Power Saver mode enabled is over 3 degrees Celsius cooler as a laptop with Opera running without Power Saver mode.

That's of course only the case if you are using Opera at the time.

Other Opera 38 changes

Opera 38 features a number of additional changes or feature additions besides Power Saver mode.

Custom ad-blocker lists

opera block ads

The built-in ad blocker of Opera received a new feature that enables you to load custom block lists which the blocker then uses on top of the native list that it makes use of (EasyList and EasyPrivacy).

Speed Dial menu

speed dial menu

A new icon is displayed when you hover over a Speed Dial entry on the new tab page. It displays the same menu that you get when you right-click on an entry giving you options to open the site, edit it, or move it to the trash.

Add photo as theme background

speed dial menu

It is now easier to add a custom image or photo as the theme background in Opera. Simply open a new tab page and click on the cogwheel icon in the upper right corner.

Enable themes if it is not enabled already, and click on the plus icon to load an image from the local device and make it the background image of Opera.

Another change on the Speed Dial page is a quick link to the Extensions Manager. It is displayed on the left side underneath other icons that have been listed there already in previous versions (e.g. history, bookmarks and so on).

Resources

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Opera Software shareholders greenlight sale http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/26/opera-software-sale-greenlighted-by-shareholders/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/26/opera-software-sale-greenlighted-by-shareholders/#comments Thu, 26 May 2016 09:16:29 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=121827 The sale of Opera Software to a Chinese consortium for 1.2 billion US Dollars has received the required 90% shareholder acceptance rate. Rumors that Opera Software was up for sale emerged as early as 2012 but nothing came out of the rumored acquisition of the company by Facebook. It was revealed in February 2016 that […]

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The sale of Opera Software to a Chinese consortium for 1.2 billion US Dollars has received the required 90% shareholder acceptance rate.

Rumors that Opera Software was up for sale emerged as early as 2012 but nothing came out of the rumored acquisition of the company by Facebook.

It was revealed in February 2016 that a consortium of Chinese Internet companies, among them Kunlun and Qihoo 360, have offered 1.2 billion US Dollars for the Norwegian company.

Opera Software, best known for the Opera web browser available for desktop and mobile devices but more successful in the advertising business, announced yesterday that the 90% shareholder acceptance rate has been reached.

The offer period for the Offer expired at 16:30 (CET) on 24th May 2016. The preliminary result, which is  subject to confirmation and may be adjusted, is that the Offeror has received acceptances of the Offer for  in total 132,911,316 shares in the Company  representing approximately 90.6% of the outstanding  share capital and 90.9% of the votes in the Company.

While a preliminary result, it seems likely that the final acceptance rate won't fall under the 90% mark.

opera browser

Acceptance of the deal by shareholders is an important step but it is not the last. Authorities in both Norway and in China need to approve the deal as well.

It is rather interesting to note that core Opera executives, notably Opera CEO Lars Boilesen and CTO Håkon Wium Lie, told TechCrunch that the decision to sell Opera Software was not made by them.

“I have been working for Opera since ’99, Håkon ’98,” Boilesen said. “He’s No. 8; I’m No. 16. We’ve been with Opera for many years. We got listed on the Stockholm stock exchange in 2004. So basically, the shareholders — they decided to initiate this process. It was kind of their decision. It wasn’t our decision.”

That does not imply that the executives don't approve of the decision on the other hand.

It is unclear right now how the deal will impact Opera Software's operations, but it would certainly help Opera Software in the Chinese market.

Opera Software has added several interesting updates to the Opera browser in the last couple of months.

Power Saver has been designed to reduce power consumption of the browser when the device it is running on runs on battery.

Opera VPN on the other hand is a built-in browser proxy to improve user privacy while using the web browser.

Now You: What's your take on the deal?

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Opera 39 Personal News update http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/20/opera-personal-news/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/20/opera-personal-news/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 16:44:08 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=121736 Opera Software continues to push a news feature in the company's Opera web browser. It plans to release an update to it that gives users more choice when it comes to the selection of news sources in the browser. The personal news feature update, showcased for the first time in yesterday's Opera Developer edition update, […]

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Opera Software continues to push a news feature in the company's Opera web browser. It plans to release an update to it that gives users more choice when it comes to the selection of news sources in the browser.

The personal news feature update, showcased for the first time in yesterday's Opera Developer edition update, makes news more personal.

Previous versions of Opera featured only general news types such as gaming, arts or technology but little to no control over the news sources displayed on the new tab page.

Additionally, it was not possible to select news from different regions, and all that was offered were local news sources.

Opera Personal News

opera news

The new personal news feature changes that in several important ways. When you open the news feature for the first time after upgrading Opera to version 39, by opening a new tab and selecting the news icon, you will get a prompt with suggestions for news sources.

Opera uses the local browsing history for the suggestions and notes that the history data used by news won't leave the local computer.

You may select none, one, some or all of the suggested sources, and news are pulled and displayed afterwards in the interface in chronological order.

The left part of the screen lists all sources, and you may click on any of them to display only news from that source.

This works similar to how RSS feed readers operate, only that you are restricted to a single main folder (so no tech, gaming or football folder with multiple sources each).

You can remove any source with a click from your feed, and click on the add sources link to browse available news sources and add them to your list.

Sadly, Ghacks is not listed as a source but the usual suspects are (think big newspapers, big corps, big sites).

While Opera Personal News is based on RSS, it does not allow you to add sources of your own. That's not a problem if you like mainstream news, but if you prefer independent news or information, you won't find those there.

The add sources option offers another new feature. You can now select one or multiple languages or regions for news sources, and the search that is provided as well searches across all sources regardless of language or region.

opera news sources

This means that you can finally break out of the regional news restrictions of the current news implementation.

Closing Words

The new personal news feature is a step in the right direction but it still falls short in many regards. Apart from offering only a limited number of news sources, it is the two layout choices that limit how you access news in the browser.

News are either displayed as wide blocks with each taking up all horizontal space, or in a rectangular layout that is all over the place.

There is no option to display only news headlines for fast browsing, and no option to turn off images to save bandwidth.

RSS feed services on the Internet are superior to what Opera is offering. While you may spend more time configuring the service and adding sources, you end up with a personalized news frontend that delivers exactly the news to you that you are interested in.

I'm not saying that some users won't find the Personal News feature useful, but those who want more control over sources and layout, will probably say pass for now and use superior solutions.

Now Read: How to turn off Personal News in Opera

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Opera Power Saver launches http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/12/opera-power-saver/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/12/opera-power-saver/#comments Thu, 12 May 2016 07:10:55 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=121583 Opera Power Saver is a new feature implemented in Opera 39 designed to improve battery life of mobile device when Opera is used as a web browser. A new Power Saver icon appears in Opera's main toolbar when the power cable of the laptop is unplugged from the device, This indicates that power saver mode […]

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Opera Power Saver is a new feature implemented in Opera 39 designed to improve battery life of mobile device when Opera is used as a web browser.

A new Power Saver icon appears in Opera's main toolbar when the power cable of the laptop is unplugged from the device, This indicates that power saver mode is ready for use.

A click on the icon reveals whether the feature is enabled or not, and a toggle lets you switch its state easily.

The browser will suggest to enable the power saver mode automatically when battery of the device is running low so that you can squeeze additional minutes of screen time out of the device before it runs out.

Opera Power Saver Mode

opera power saver

You find an option in the settings under browser to always show the power icon, but there does not seem to be a preference right now to always enable power saver mode when the device is unplugged.

The power savings come from optimizations such as reduced background tab activity, video playback parameter tuning and an adaptive page-redrawing frequency according to Opera.

How good is Opera Power Saver?

Opera ran tests to compare the power saver mode of the Opera browser to other browsers, and in particular Google Chrome and Opera without power saving mode.

According to the company's test, Opera 39 Developer Edition was able to run 3 hours longer than "browsers like Google Chrome" on a laptop running a 64-bit version of Windows 10.

While this has to be confirmed by independent tests and especially on more devices, it is quite an impressive feat. Still, mileage may vary depending on the laptop in question, the web activity and other activity on the device.

The new feature does not keep track of statistics currently which makes it difficult to judge its effectiveness when it comes to the power saving functionality on individual devices.

It would be great if the browser would make some calculations in the background to provide information about the average power consumption when power saver is enabled and when it is not.

All in all, it is an interesting new feature that sets Opera apart from competing browsers. I wish it would offer more options and statistics though.

The new power saving mode is just one of the new features that Opera Software added to the web browser this year.

The company launched a native ad blocker in Opera Stable this month for instance, making it the first major web browser (from a market share point of view) to do so.

Another first was the integration of a browser proxy in Opera which improves privacy while Opera is being used.

Opera Developer can be downloaded from the official Opera website, and it can be installed alongside the stable version of the web browser.

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Opera 37: Find out what is new http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/04/opera-37-final/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/04/opera-37-final/#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=121433 Opera Software released Opera 37 to the stable channel on May 4th, 2016. The new version is available for all supported desktop operating systems - Windows, Mac and Linux -- and already available for download and as an in-browser update. The new version of Opera brings along with it an integrated ad blocker that Opera […]

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Opera Software released Opera 37 to the stable channel on May 4th, 2016. The new version is available for all supported desktop operating systems - Windows, Mac and Linux -- and already available for download and as an in-browser update.

The new version of Opera brings along with it an integrated ad blocker that Opera tested for a while in the Developer edition of the web browser exclusively.

In related news, the very same ad blocker has also been integrated into Opera Mini for mobile applications.

Opera 37 Download

opera 37

If you run stable Opera already on your system then you can run a manual check for update from within the browser.

Opera may have picked up the update automatically already but if it has not, do the following to run a manual update check:

  1. Load chrome://about in the browser's address bar.
  2. Alternatively, select Menu > About Opera instead.

Opera will check for updates and if they are available, install them on the system.

If you don't run Opera (Stable) yet, head over to the official Opera website and click on the big download now button there to download the installer to your system.

Opera 37 What's new

opera block ads setting

The main new feature of Opera 37 is without doubt the integrated ad blocker. The ad blocker is not enabled by default, and unlike in Opera Mini, is not advertised after installation or update.

You need to do the following to enable the ad blocker in Opera 37:

  1. Load chrome://settings to open the preferences.
  2. Or, select Menu > Settings instead.
  3. Locate the Block ads section at the top, and check the block ads and surf the web up to three times faster preference there.

A manage exceptions button is displayed after you enable ad blocking which means that you can add sites to the list of exceptions to whitelist them (please consider adding my site to the whitelist).

If you open the list of exceptions, you will find four sites already listed: baidu.com, facebook.com, google.com, and yandex.com. While I cannot say it with absolute certainty, these look like search partners.

The native ad blocker is lighter on memory use according to Opera when compared to extensions such as Adblock Plus.

Video Pop Out

opera video pop out

The feature enables you to display videos in a small overlay on the screen so that you can watch them even when you switch tabs in the Opera web browser. Navigating away from the page however does not work.

Opera displays a small icon at the top of videos compatible with the pop out feature to indicate that you can launch it in the smaller overlay window.

A click on the icon opens the overlay which you can move around or resize as you see fit (yes even outside the browser window).

The video pop out mirrors the actual video which means that the video plays and stops in both based on your actions. This is the reason why you cannot navigate away from the actual page the video was published on as the overlay will vanish as well when you do.

The video pop out feature worked on YouTube and most sites that I tested the feature on but not on all. It did not work on Dailymotion for instance.

Other changes

The changelog lists only a handful of other changes. Opera was updated to Chromium/Blink 50, has received stability enhancements and fixes, and there is a new option on the start page that removes the + button to add new sites.

Also, important for users on devices running pre-Windows 7 operating systems, Opera 37 won't work anymore as Windows 7 or newer versions of Windows are required to run the browser.

The company announced earlier this year that it would continue to provide security and stability fixes for Opera 36 which Vista and XP users could still use.

Resources

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Opera Mini update brings ad blocker http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/04/opera-mini-update-brings-ad-blocker/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/05/04/opera-mini-update-brings-ad-blocker/#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 09:16:22 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=121428 Opera Software published an update for the Opera Mini application today that introduces an ad blocker to the mobile web browser. After making an ad blocker available in the desktop version of Opera, or more precisely, the Developer edition of the browser, recently, Opera Software just added the very same feature to Opera Mini as […]

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Opera Software published an update for the Opera Mini application today that introduces an ad blocker to the mobile web browser.

After making an ad blocker available in the desktop version of Opera, or more precisely, the Developer edition of the browser, recently, Opera Software just added the very same feature to Opera Mini as well.

Opera Mini is a lightweight browser that has existed since the good old Nokia days where phones were not all that powerful and Internet transfers not speedy at all.

The main idea behind the application was to provide mobile users with a lightweight program that was best suited for browsing the Internet on low-performance devices.

Opera Mini evolved over time, and it is now available for today's dominating mobile platforms Android and iOS (but also for basic phones).

Opera Mini Ad Blocker

opera mini ad blocker

A prompt is displayed to you when you install or upgrade Opera Mini on a supported device that informs you about the new ad blocker.

You can enable the ad blocker right on the screen, or skip the enabling for the time being. Please note that you may enable the ad blocking functionality at any point in time in the preferences (or disable it).

Ads are blocked as soon as you enable the ad blocker in Opera Mini. This is an automated process that you cannot control at all.

What this means is that there is no option to whitelist sites or elements for instance, or mark elements on a page that are not blocked for blocking. This makes it less flexible than solutions such as uBlock Origin which provide this functionality.

The internal ad blocker of the Opera browser offers better memory efficiency compared to no ad blocker or ad blocker extensions according to Opera.

With its native ad blocker, Opera for computers speeds up page loading by as much as 89%, compared to browsing without ad blocking, and up to 45% compared to browsers with third-party ad-blocking extensions.

How to enable/disable the Ad Blocker in Opera

opera block ads

To change the state of Opera's Ad Blocker do the following:

  1. Tap on the Opera icon in the Opera Mini interface.
  2. Tap on the right arrow next to "savings mode", or select Settings > Data Savings.
  3. There you find listed the block ads preference which you can enable (check) or disable (blank).

Closing Words

The introduction of an ad blocker is the second "first" for Opera this year, at least when you look at the feature set of browsers with a large user base.

The company launched a Browser VPN, or more precisely a proxy, in desktop versions of the Opera web browser recently.

Chrome-based browsers like Opera need features that distinguish the browser from the almighty (in terms of popularity) Chrome web browser, and the introduction of these two features certainly go a long way in distinguishing the browser from Chrome.

Now You: Have you used Opera recently?

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A closer look at Opera’s Browser VPN http://www.ghacks.net/2016/04/26/a-closer-look-at-operas-browser-vpn/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/04/26/a-closer-look-at-operas-browser-vpn/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 07:01:59 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=121285 Opera Software launched what it calls a Browser VPN or just VPN depending on where you find it in the browser in a recent developer edition of the web browser. Browser VPN can be enabled in Opera with a simple check of a box in the browser's settings, and then turned on or off on […]

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Opera Software launched what it calls a Browser VPN or just VPN depending on where you find it in the browser in a recent developer edition of the web browser.

Browser VPN can be enabled in Opera with a simple check of a box in the browser's settings, and then turned on or off on the frontend.

It protects traffic by using encryption which improves both the privacy and security while using the browser.

We have mentioned previously that Browser VPN does not support WebRTC or plugin traffic yet which means that sites and services may find out about the public IP address of the device used to connect to it even if the VPN is enabled.

opera vpn server

A detailed analysis of Opera's VPN integration revealed that it is not a full VPN solution which protects all traffic on the device but a proxy instead.

When you enable the VPN in Opera, the following happens:

  1. Opera connects to the SurfEasy API to obtain credentials and IP addresses (SurfEasy is an Opera company).
  2. The browser sends requests to the proxy with proxy authorization request headers whenever sites or services are loaded in the browser. These include the device ID and device password.
  3. These information can be grabbed and used on different machines, even in other programs that are not Opera (as you have the proxy IP address, username, and password).

The connection itself is secure, with HTTPS being used even if non-HTTPS sites are loaded. Hostname resolution is done remotely on the proxy server which means that hostnames are not leaked as well when the VPN is used.

Two issues emerge from this; first, Opera's VPN is not a real VPN but a HTTP proxy. Second, Browser VPN uses a device ID that is linked to the device you are using.

Opera's VPN is not a real VPN but a HTTP proxy

Most users who run developer or beta editions of browsers probably assumed as much when they read about the new VPN that is built-in to the Opera browser.

Opera's Browser VPN works for the most part just like other VPN extensions that you can install for it.

The main difference is that the feature is built-in to the browser so that it may theoretically make use of features that extensions cannot make use of.

Additionally, when it comes to trust, users may trust Opera more than third-party browser extensions considering that they are using the Opera web browser which too requires some level of trust.

The takeaway is that Opera's Browser VPN does not encrypt all browser traffic currently (WebRTC and plugins are not included currently but you can disable those features if you don't require them), and that it won't work on a system-wide level but only within the browser.

Opera is aware of this however and plans to fix this in future releases (probably before it hits the stable channel).

Browser VPN uses a device ID that is linked to the device you are using

The device ID that is used by the VPN is the same ID that Opera has been using for a long time. You can read about it by loading opera://about/privacy in the web browser. There you find the following information about it:

Your installation of Opera browser contains a unique ID that can not be linked to you as an individual person. This unique ID is required for auto-updates of the software and any installed extensions. Data about the features (not websites) used in Opera browser is collected with the purpose to improve the software and services. The software also creates a unique ID that is linked to your computer. This unique ID is processed with the sole purpose to measure marketing campaigns and distribution partners.

Opera stated that they have a strict no-logging policy when it comes to the VPN/Proxy.

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Block Opera VPN from leaking your IP address http://www.ghacks.net/2016/04/23/block-opera-vpn-from-leaking-your-ip-address/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/04/23/block-opera-vpn-from-leaking-your-ip-address/#comments Sat, 23 Apr 2016 07:13:14 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=121226 Opera Software added a virtual private network (VPN) to Opera Developer a couple of days ago to improve user privacy and security while using the web browser. This VPN client is free to use, does not impose restrictions in regards to bandwidth or data to users, and there is little reason not to make use […]

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Opera Software added a virtual private network (VPN) to Opera Developer a couple of days ago to improve user privacy and security while using the web browser.

This VPN client is free to use, does not impose restrictions in regards to bandwidth or data to users, and there is little reason not to make use of it unless you are already using a VPN that runs system-wide, or want to watch shows on Netflix.

One reason given by Opera Software for adding the VPN is to improve privacy by ensuring anonymity while using the browser.

As is the case with any other VPN or proxy solution, it is necessary to make sure that the underlying program does not leak information to remote servers.

Opera VPN IP leak

If you enable the VPN in Opera and check whether IP addresses leak while it is enabled, you will notice the following:

  1. Common IP checks reveal only the IP address of the VPN but not the "real" IP of the computer.
  2. A WebRTC leak check reveals the local and remote IP address of the computer.

opera webrtc leak

This is not unique to the Opera web browser as most modern browsers support WebRTC and will leak the IP address even if a VPN is used on the device.

Some browsers like Firefox allow you to disable WebRTC completely while others don't offer that option. Considering that WebRTC can be used by sites to identify you even if you are using a VPN or proxy, you may want to disable the technology especially if you don't make use of it at all.

Opera does not ship with built-in options to disable WebRTC, but you may install a browser extension that handles WebRTC leaks in the browser and improves your privacy while using Opera's built-in VPN or system-wide VPN solutions.

Download and install the WebRTC Leak Prevent extension for the Opera web browser. You will notice that it blocks access to the computer's local IP address right away but that the device's public IP address is still leaked by Opera's WebRTC implementation.

To plug that leak as well, open the extension's preferences. List all installed extensions by loading opera://extensions/ in the browser's address bar and click on the options button under the WebRTC Leak Prevent listing on the page that opens.

webrtc ip handling

Do the following on the page:

  1. Check "Prevent WebRTC from using non-proxied UDP".
  2. Select "Disable non-proxied UDP (force proxy)" as the new IP handling policy.

Rerun the WebRTC leak check afterwards to verify that the leak has been plugged. Opera won't leak your local or public IP address anymore after you install the extension and make the modifications outlined above.

opera no webrtc leak

It is highly recommended to install and configure the extension if you plan to use Opera's new VPN feature. Additionally, you may want to plug the leak in other browsers you use as well.

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Opera ships with free VPN client http://www.ghacks.net/2016/04/21/opera-free-vpn-client/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/04/21/opera-free-vpn-client/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2016 07:09:38 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=121180 Norwegian company Opera Software released a new version of the Developer Edition of its web browser today that ships with a free built-in VPN option. Opera browser is the first major browser that ships with built-in VPN functionality to improve user privacy and security while connected the Internet. When Opera Software acquired the VPN provider […]

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Norwegian company Opera Software released a new version of the Developer Edition of its web browser today that ships with a free built-in VPN option.

Opera browser is the first major browser that ships with built-in VPN functionality to improve user privacy and security while connected the Internet.

When Opera Software acquired the VPN provider SurfEasy in early 2015, I stated that it would make sense for the company to integrate the VPN service into the web browser.

Nothing came out of it in 2015 though except for promoting the VPN in Opera's private browsing mode.

This changes with today's release of Opera Developer 38 which brings access to the virtual private network service free of charge to all users of the browser.

The VPN enables Opera users to better protect their Internet activities while using the browser, for instance while connected to public networks but also when using home connections.

I asked Opera about the VPN, and the company confirmed to me that it is indeed powered by SurfEasy. Opera told me that it is completely free and not limited in any way. Additionally, no user data logs are being kept by the company.

Configuring the VPN in Opera

opera browser vpn

The VPN that Opera ships with is not enabled by default. To enable it, do the following:

  1. Load opera://settings/ in the web browser's address bar.
  2. Switch to privacy & security using the sidebar menu.
  3. Scroll down until you find the VPN section.
  4. Check the "enable VPN" box.

And that's it. Opera will make use of the VPN from that moment on for all connections the browser makes. This means that your "real" IP address won't be visible anymore to websites (unless they use other means of detection if available), and that your connection is encrypted which prevents eavesdropping.

You can verify that the VPN is working by loading our IP checker using Opera and another browser you have access to. The IP addresses shown to you should be different as Opera uses the VPN while the other browser does not.

The Opera browser displays a VPN icon in the browser's address bar when the virtual private network connection feature has been enabled in the settings.

opera vpn server

You can click on the icon to display data transfer stats and switch to another virtual location. The current implementation supports servers in the United States, Canada and Germany.

There is also an option to turn the VPN on or off quickly using the interface. This can be useful if services on the Internet block you from accessing them (..Netflix..) when you are using a VPN or proxy, or when you want to a direct connection to a service.

Opera lists the following reasons for using the VPN

  • Hide your browsing activities from other users of your local network
  • Bypass firewalls and access blocked content
  • Hide your IP address from websites, and block many tracking cookies
  • Enhance privacy on public Wi-Fi, with strong encryption to the VPN server

The VPN connection is limited to the Opera browser, but it appears to work really well. I ran some tests, DNS leak, fingerprinting and speed tests, and all returned good results.

Speed tests revealed that the bandwidth you get when connected to the VPN depends on the server location of it. The German server maxed out my 50Mbit/10Mbit connection almost completely while I got 35Mbit/8Mbit on the US server.

Still, both are sufficient for HD and 4K streams, and most other activities on the Internet. (The server is blocked by Netflix however which means you cannot use it for that).

Closing Words

It is unclear right now if and when the feature will land in Opera Stable. In the most optimistic case, it will become available in Opera Beta in the next release cycle, and then in Opera Stable in the release cycle after it.

Still, it is likely that Opera will keep an eye on the service, especially on bandwidth and availability, before it moves it to Beta or Stable versions of the web browser.

Integration of the VPN service distinguishes Opera more from other popular web browsers who don't ship with such an option currently. This is especially important when compared to other Chromium-based browsers such as Google Chrome or Vivaldi, but also other non-Chromium browsers like Firefox or Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge.

The integration is beneficial to users as it improves privacy and security while using the browser, and because it may be used to circumvent censorship and other restrictions.

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Opera 37 desktop ships with built-in ad blocker http://www.ghacks.net/2016/03/10/opera-37-desktop-ships-with-built-in-ad-blocker/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/03/10/opera-37-desktop-ships-with-built-in-ad-blocker/#comments Thu, 10 Mar 2016 11:27:31 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=119849 Opera Software announced today that it has added native ad-blocking to the latest developer version of the Opera desktop browser. While Opera Software is not the first company that integrated an ad-blocker in a desktop browser, it is the first with a sizable market share that did so. You could say that Mozilla was first […]

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Opera Software announced today that it has added native ad-blocking to the latest developer version of the Opera desktop browser.

While Opera Software is not the first company that integrated an ad-blocker in a desktop browser, it is the first with a sizable market share that did so.

You could say that Mozilla was first with Tracking Protection in Firefox, but that mode is limited to the browser's Private Browsing mode by default.

The new feature in Opera browser is not enabled by default, but it will inform users about the new functionality when it detects advertisement that can be blocked on the active web page.

This did not work overly well during tests, but there is an option to enable ad-blocking directly in the settings.

opera ads blocked

The notification that Opera displays automatically to users when it detects blockable advertisement on a page gives users the option to block ads on while using the browser.

Once the feature has been turned on, either by selecting the "block ads" option when the prompt is displayed or in the settings, advertisement will be blocked automatically on all pages visit in the web browser.

To enable ad-blocking in the settings, do the following:

  1. Use Alt-P to open the Settings. Alternatively, load opera://settings/ directly in the browser's address bar.
  2. Switch to "Privacy & security" in the sidebar on the left.
  3. Scroll down until you find the "block ads" section.
  4. Check "" to enable the functionality.

There you find an option to "manage exceptions", and a host of sites where ads are not blocked including Cnet, Bing, Amazon, Opera or Facebook.

block ads exceptions

You can remove any site listed there and add others that you may want to exclude from the ad-blocking.

Opera uses Easylist, a popular ad-blocking list, currently for the ad-blocking functionality in the browser.

The browser indicates that ads are blocked with a shield icon in the address bar. You can click on the icon to display how many ads were blocked on the active site, and how many were blocked in total today and in the last 7 days.

You may also allow ads to run on a site by flipping the "ads are blocked on this site" switch at the top, and click on the speed test link to see how much faster websites load with ads disabled.

opera whitelist site

What's interesting about this is that it will simulate the experience on the site you are on highlighting the page's loading time with and without ads.

You can run the speed test manually in the browser using by loading opera://adblockertest/?url=http://www.ghacks.net/ directly in the browser. Replace the domain name with the one you want to test.

Closing Words

Ad-blocking is about to enter the mainstream, and sites can either adopt to that or die. While sites will load a lot faster as a consequence, what is going to happen is that sites will add in-content monetization streams instead.

So, less direct ads in form of banners, and more direct or indirect ads in form of affiliate links, sponsored posts, deals, pushing newsletters and reviews that may not be reviews at all but ads for a product.

In the end, the majority of individually run sites like mine will wither away, while corporate sites, sites backed by large companies, and hobbyist sites will remain.

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6 Opera Classic Features I wish modern browsers would integrate http://www.ghacks.net/2016/03/07/6-opera-classic-features-i-wish-modern-browsers-would-support/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/03/07/6-opera-classic-features-i-wish-modern-browsers-would-support/#comments Mon, 07 Mar 2016 20:04:22 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=119765 The classic Opera web browser was ahead of its time in many regards for most of its existence. Despite that, it never managed to attract a large audience even though it did considerably well nevertheless. Opera Software highlighted some of the innovations of the classic Opera browser as part of Opera's 15th birthday celebration and […]

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The classic Opera web browser was ahead of its time in many regards for most of its existence. Despite that, it never managed to attract a large audience even though it did considerably well nevertheless.

Opera Software highlighted some of the innovations of the classic Opera browser as part of Opera's 15th birthday celebration and it shows how innovative Opera Software was.

Among the innovations are session management, full page zooming, browser tabs, web search integration or data synchronization.

The last classic version of Opera, version 12.18, has been released recently.

6 Classic Opera Features

Most features described here are either unavailable in all modern browsers or implemented in a way that barely anyone notices that they exist.

Note: If a web browser is not mentioned when I talk about implementation of those features in other browsers, then I'm not aware of a browser extension or native integration of said feature. Feel free to let me know about options in the comment section below.

Tab Stacking

opera tab stacking

One of the most useful features of classic Opera was tab stacking. This allowed you to stack tabs together to save space on the tab bar without losing access to any of the tabs.

Simply drag a tab on another to create a stack. This is indicated by a new arrow icon to the right of the tab stack which you can click on to expand and collapse all tabs.

One thing that I really like about the feature is that it is intuitive and works extremely well.

Mozilla implemented tab groups in Firefox (formerly called Panorama), but announced a while ago that it will remove them again. It was not the same, as you had to use a separate page to create and manage these tab groups. Users can resort to extensions like Tab Groups to regain the functionality, but the design is completely different from Opera's feature.

Google experimented with tab stacking in Chrome, but the feature never made it out of the experimental features section of the browser, and was pulled eventually.

Fit To Width

fit to width

It is bad enough to scroll vertically all the time, but scrolling horizontally is even more uncomfortable than that.

Classic Opera had a feature that let you fit the page to the width of the browser window automatically which would do away with the horizontal scrollbar.

Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer don't offer the feature but Firefox users can check out the Zoom Page add-on for the browser which offers one-click fit to width zooming while Chrome users may check out Zoomy, an extension last updated in 2012.

Opera Unite

opera unite

Opera Software introduced Opera Unite when it launched Opera 10. It added web server capabilities to the browser which allowed you to run a media player, web server, file sharing service or chat interface that ran on the local computer.

While you can do the same setting up the local system as a server for these type of applications, Unite made the whole process that much easier.

No other browser supports Unite functionality but some features like chat may be supported.

Private Tabs

private browsing tab

Private Tabs were introduced in Opera 10.x allowing users to use the browser's private browsing mode in an active window instead of having to open a new private browsing window and using it this way.

All modern browsers support only private browsing windows by default, but Firefox users may install the excellent Private Tab add-on for the browser to add the functionality to their browser.

The implementation works even better than Opera's as it allows you to create a new private tab and configure bookmarks to always open in private tabs as well.

Content Blocker

content blocker

The Content Blocker allowed you to block any element on a page permanently. All you had to do was right-click on the page and select the "block content" option from the context menu.

Opera switched to an edit mode that you used to click on the elements that you wanted to block on the page.

Modern browsers ship with Developer Tools that you can make use of to block elements temporarily on a page.

To block them permanently, you need to install browser add-ons such as Remove it Permanently which let you block content permanently in the browser.

Keyboard shortcuts and modifications

opera keyboard shortcuts

Opera shipped with truckloads of keyboard shortcuts, the majority of which you could customize to your liking.

While you find the most common keyboard shortcuts supported by all modern browsers, virtually none offers options to customize these shortcuts natively.

Firefox users can check out Keyconfig which adds similar functionality to the web browser.

Closing words

You can add some of those features to certain web browsers, most notably Firefox thanks to its extension architecture that gives developers more freedom in regards to what they can change or add.

Is your favorite feature of classic Opera missing? Let me know in the comments.

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Opera 36 will be the last for Windows XP and Vista http://www.ghacks.net/2016/02/17/opera-36-will-be-the-last-for-windows-xp-and-vista/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/02/17/opera-36-will-be-the-last-for-windows-xp-and-vista/#comments Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:31:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=119114 Opera Software announced yesterday that Opera 36 will be the last version of the web browser  for Windows XP and Windows Vista, and that all future versions of Opera would only run on newer versions of Windows starting with Windows 7. The reason why support is being dropped in Opera 37 is Google's announcement back […]

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Opera Software announced yesterday that Opera 36 will be the last version of the web browser  for Windows XP and Windows Vista, and that all future versions of Opera would only run on newer versions of Windows starting with Windows 7.

The reason why support is being dropped in Opera 37 is Google's announcement back in 2015 that it would end support for Windows XP and Windows Vista starting April 2016.

Opera Software, unlike Google, plans to maintain Opera 36, the last compatible version for systems running Windows XP or Vista, so that users who are running XP or Vista can continue using the web browser.

While Opera 36 will be last one with features additions on Windows XP and Vista, we are still going to provide security and crash fixes to XP and Vista platform. You will no not be able to run Opera 37+ on Windows XP and Vista, we advise you update to more recent OS. Otherwise, we will have Opera 36 for you.

The support length is unknown but support will end eventually. Opera Software will create security and crash fixes for Opera 36 even after the stable branch of the browser moved on to Opera 37 and newer versions.

opera 37

The maintained version of Opera 36 won't receive any feature updates from that point on though.

Opera suggests to upgrade to a recent operating system to benefit from feature additions to newer versions of the web browser.

Opera 35 Stable was released this week which means that it will take a while before that version is upgraded to version 36.

Opera 36 is currently tested in the beta channel and Opera 37 on the Developer channel.

It is rather surprising that companies are dropping support for Windows Vista, considering that the operating system is still supported by Microsoft.

Extended Support for Windows Vista ends on April 11, 2017. No security patches are released by Microsoft for the operating system to the general public after that last patch day.

Opera Software pushed out an update for the classic version of Opera. Opera 12.18 and Opera Mail were updated fixing several security issues and settings in those classic programs that did not receive updates for two years before the recent update.

The update has only been made available for Windows as there are not "significant numbers of users of Opera 12 and Opera Mail on non-Windows platforms".

Now You: Are you affected by the decision (Opera's or Google's)?

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Surprise: Opera 12.18 has been released http://www.ghacks.net/2016/02/16/surprise-opera-12-18-has-been-released/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/02/16/surprise-opera-12-18-has-been-released/#comments Tue, 16 Feb 2016 11:46:44 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=119065 Opera Software has released version 12.18 of the classic Opera browser two years after the latest update has been made available. When Opera Software switched from the company's own Presto rendering engine to Chromium/Blink, it was clear that this was the end of the classic Opera browser. Users who still run the classic version of […]

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Opera Software has released version 12.18 of the classic Opera browser two years after the latest update has been made available.

When Opera Software switched from the company's own Presto rendering engine to Chromium/Blink, it was clear that this was the end of the classic Opera browser.

Users who still run the classic version of Opera may receive an update notification that version 12.18 of the browser is available.

They can then use it to upgrade their version of the browser to the new version. The notification may come as a surprise as Opera Software uses it to promote the Chromium version of the browser regularly instead.

Opera 12.18

The new classic Opera version installs or upgrades fine, and you can check that you are still running classic Opera by selecting Opera > Help > About Opera.

opera 12.18

There you find listed the version of the browser and build number. It is interesting to note that Windows 10 is not recognized by the browser but listed as Windows 8 instead.

Opera Software has not made available a changelog for the version. A user posted what he thinks has been updated on the Vivaldi forum.

I hate to repeat myself, but 12.18 is a security update. They removed a few protocols that are considered unsafe, added some which were not in 12.17. and enabled TLS 1.1 and 1.2 by default. And yes, there's an update for Mail too. No, no Linux or Mac versions yet.

According to him, Opera Software removed protocols that are not considered safe anymore, and enabled TLS 1.1 and 1.2 by default. Mail was updated as well, but he does not mention what exactly.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the Windows version of Opera 12.18 is currently the only one that is offered, but that was the case for Opera 12.17 as well. It is unlikely that a Linux or Mac version will be released by Opera Software considering that Opera 12.16 is the last version for both systems.

Windows users can download Opera 12.18 from the official download page on the Opera website.

The update is a maintenance update and not a sign that Opera Software has restarted development of Opera Classic.

The company concentrates its efforts on the new Opera browser, currently at version 35. Opera fans who like classic Opera but not the new one may want to keep an eye on Vivaldi, a browser developed by former Opera employees.

Beta 2 of Vivaldi was released recently. A stable version will be released this year, but it is unclear when exactly.

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Chinese companies make offer to acquire Opera Software http://www.ghacks.net/2016/02/10/chinese-companies-plan-to-acquire-opera-software/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/02/10/chinese-companies-plan-to-acquire-opera-software/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:13:32 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=118862 A consortium of Chinese Internet companies, among them Kunlun and Qihoo 360, plan to acquire Norwegian company Opera Software in a buyout valued at $1.2 billion US Dollars. Rumors about a potential acquisition of Opera Software, or a sale of company assets, have circulated around the Internet as early as 2012. While there has surely […]

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A consortium of Chinese Internet companies, among them Kunlun and Qihoo 360, plan to acquire Norwegian company Opera Software in a buyout valued at $1.2 billion US Dollars.

Rumors about a potential acquisition of Opera Software, or a sale of company assets, have circulated around the Internet as early as 2012.

While there has surely been interest by many companies to acquire Opera Software, no offer has been made publicly until yesterday.

The Chinese Internet company consortium values the browser maker at $1.2 billion, a premium of 53% over Opera Software's current stock market value before trading was stopped.

According to Re/code, Opera's board recommended to shareholders unanimously to approve the takeover offer. Opera shareholders and government entities need to approve the deal.

Opera Software will release earnings today, and the company's shares cannot be traded currently as the Oslo Stock Exchange Supervision stopped trading after the offer was mentioned in a Norwegian newspaper.

opera browser

Opera Software, best known for its desktop and mobile browsers, changed from a browser developer to a company that makes most of its revenue from advertisement. The company acquired several key players in the advertising field in recent years, and managed to get a foothold into the compression market as well offering state of the art compression technologies.

Opera Software's latest acquisition, the VPN provider SurfEasy, has been integrated into the company's web browser.

Qihoo 360 is a Chinese Internet security company known for its antivirus software, web browser and mobile application store. The company has 4200 employees and hundreds of millions of users are using its Internet Security and Mobile Antivirus products as of 2014 according to Wikipedia.

Kunlun Inc is a leading developer of web games and mobile games with offices in China, Europe and North America and other locations.

It is unclear right now how this will affect development of the Opera browser if the acquisition is approved.

It seems unlikely that the new owners would retire the Opera browser considering that it has a sizable market share especially in the mobile world.

One likely scenario is that the Chinese companies pave the way for the Opera browser in China, and that they hope that the acquisition will help their expansion plans and growth in Europe, America and other parts of the world.

Now You: Would you keep on using a Chinese-owned Opera browser?

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