Opera has released the first beta version of their new browser for Android, based on the WebKit engine for webpages, which should allow for a browsing experience similar to contemporary browsers rather than Opera’s own Presto engine-based browser that is popular today.
As soon as you start up Opera Browser beta, the first introduction feature that you’re greeted with is what made Opera popular in the first place – compression of webpages so that they take up less data, now called Off-Road mode. Other well-known Opera features such as Speed Dial (which is basically bookmarks) or Discover are included as well, though the rendering engine is what is the biggest change here.
Up until now, Opera used its own Presto rendering engine for webpages, which made websites render a bit differently than other browsers and didn’t quite give the feel of browsing similar to a computer. However, with the new browser based on WebKit, the dominant software engine on the mobile web, that won’t be the case anymore and users should get a full-blown browsing experience.
I tested the browser for a little while, and even for the first beta version, it seems to work very well. Webpages render quite fast and fit the screen well enough, though improvements are needed on the latter. The browser looks beautiful as well (the “New Tabs” menu is specially striking to look at), making full use of Android’s Holo app design guidelines.
The settings menu lets you change a few settings, such as quality of images, enabling or disabling cookies, or clearing your browsing data, though things like changing the user agent are disabled for now. The downloads manager is also quite smart, allowing you to pause and resume downloads any time you want.
Basically, the new beta Opera Browser is quite good despite being an early version, so I’m excited to see where Opera takes it with future versions. Go ahead and try it out by installing it from the Google Play Store, specially if you’re a fan of Opera’s current browser offerings.