Opera for Android exits beta, touts new Web access features
Opera Software is rolling out the finalized version of its WebKit-based mobile browser for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system.
Opera for Android
Opera for Android is available as a free download from the Google Play digital storefront. It boasts a redesigned user interface built to the native specifications of the Android platform, as well as new features including a startup screen Discover panel presenting a selection of popular articles and personalized content based on the user's interests and culled from a number of global and regional media sources.
Opera for Android additionally touts a revamped Speed Dial enabling more efficient access to bookmarks, Off-Road mode leveraging data compression technologies to improve browsing when network conditions are poor and text reflow, which enables users to view Web text at any zoom level without scrolling sideways. The browser supports devices with phone-sized screens running Android version 2.3 and up.
Earlier this year, Opera scrapped its Presto rendering engine in favor of WebKit, which at that time also powered Google's Chrome and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Safari browsers. Since that time, Google has introduced Blink, an open-source rendering engine spun out of WebKit: According to Google, the Blink fork is designed to accelerate the pace of innovation, explaining that its Chromium browser project leverages a different multi-process architecture from other WebKit-based browsers and that supporting multiple architectures has become increasingly problematic.
Opera confirmed to TechCrunch that while the current version of its Android browser is built on WebKit/Chromium 24, future updates will transition to Blink once the rendering engine is integrated into the Chromium code.
More than 300 million users access Opera browsers each month across all platforms. Roughly two-thirds of those consumers access its signature Opera Mini mobile browser, which compresses up to 90 percent of data to improve speed and reduce costs; the firm also offers the full-featured Opera Mobile.
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