Opera launches WebKit-powered Android browser beta

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Less than a month after confirming plans to scrap its Presto rendering engine in favor of WebKit, Opera Software released the first version of its WebKit-based mobile browser for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system.

The new Opera for Android beta, available for download from the Google Play storefront, 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 as well 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, a combined search and address bar, and tabbed browsing. The browser beta supports devices with phone-sized screens running Android version 2.3 and up.

The WebKit engine also powers Google's Chrome and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Safari browsers; Opera plans to embrace WebKit for most of its browsers for smartphones and computers, a move to increase its competitiveness across the Google and Apple platforms. It additionally will support V8 as its JavaScript engine and will contribute to the open-source Chromium framework project.

"The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need," Opera Software CTO Håkon Wium Lie said last month. "It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further."

Three hundred million users access Opera browsers each month across all platforms. More than 200 million 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.

For more:
- read this release
- read this ZDNet article

Related articles:
Report: Opera workforce shrinks 10 percent with migration to WebKit
Opera acquires mobile browser rival Skyfire Labs for up to $155 million
Opera begins shift to WebKit engine as browser users top 300M
Opera introduces pay-as-you-go mobile Web access
Opera overhauls Android browser with new fraud detection system
Opera mobile browser users top 200 million worldwide

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