Opera for Android loses beta tag, adds new text flow option

Opera for Android loses beta tag, adds new text flow option

Summary: Opera's new Android web browser is out of beta and available to download, bringing few changes to the app since it was unveiled earlier this year.


Opera's new WebKit based web browser is now out of beta and available to download for devices running Android 2.3, and newer, from the Google Play store.

The Norwegian browser-maker said in February that it was switching to a WebKit rendering engine for its Android mobile browser, bringing it in line with most other mobile browsers, and released its first beta of the app.

Screenshots from Opera for Android - on the left you have the Discover mode and on the right the option to open a new private browsing tab. Picture credit: Opera


Since then, Opera added a few minor new features to the browser and subsequently decided the Opera browser was ready for the prime time, losing the beta tag.

As well as retooling the rendering engine for the browser, Opera has also added other tweaks such as its "off-road" mode, which compresses the data before sending it to your phone — which means it should load quicker on slow networks as less data needs to be transferred.

Opera is also offering users other features not found on some other browsers in a bid to increase the amount of time users spend using the app. These features include "Discover", which looks and acts a little like the HTC BlinkFeed system on the HTC One, displays news from around the web, and can be populated with user-chosen categories. Unlike BlinkFeed, it doesn’t allow the option to connect social networking accounts and see these in the Discover tab too.

"Most people just see a fraction of what the web has to offer," Rikard Gillemyr, EVP of Consumer Products at Opera Software, said in a blogpost. "We check out the same sites every day, and you can get through with the latest news after just a short bus ride. We wanted to give people a relaxed way of discovering interesting articles and checking them out without any extra effort."

While these features were also in the beta version of the browser there have been a couple of minor additions to coincide with its move out of beta, such as the ability to wrap text when resizing the web page or to move the navigation bar from the top of the screen to the bottom.

As well as these options, the mobile browser also offers features found in the desktop version, such as Speed Dial for quickly accessing specific sites, and private tabs and browsing modes.

Shortly after Opera announced it was moving from its own rendering engine to the WebKit engine, Google announced it was forking WebKit. As a result, Opera's Android browser will in fact be based on another new engine called Blink in the future.

Topics: Mobility, Browser, Smartphones

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • By far the best mobile browser in my opinion

    Don't use it on the desktop however.
  • D.T.Long: "By far the best mobile browser in my opinion"

    Why do you believe Opera to be the best mobile browser? What features stand out for you?

    And why don't you use it on the desktop?
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Text wrap, desktop mode

      plain and simple. Reading web pages in Opera is such a pleasure. On a 7" tablet, text can get very small and zooming usually requires lateral scrolling (I am getting old). In Opera I can zoom the text and the browser re-wraps the text to fit the screen, requiring only vertical scrolling.

      I also prefer the desktop version of most web sites (makes the browsing much more consistent) so I set that to be the default.

      Those are the most compelling features and I do not need them on the desktop.

      Now don't tell me other browsers also have those features buried somewhere. I have not checked in a while. :-)
  • may now be the best

    I have to spend a bit more time with it, but I had been using firefox because it seemed a bit smoother than chrome and had text reflow. The only reason I didn't use opera over firefox was lack of text reflow. Firefox mobile is a great browser, but this may now have surpassed it as my favorite. One basic reason: "off road" data compression mode which I always like from opera mini.
    I also like:
    - the cover flow tab switching
    - the arrow that appears while scrolling that allows you to immediately go to the top or bottom.
    -as smooth as any mobile browser.
    • If rewrap=reflow.....

      Opera has had that for a while. I still use FF on the desktop, tried the mobile version quite a while back, but somehow did not like it. Can't remember why.
      • Its a bit confusing.

        What I liked (and didn't expect to) was/is known as "Firefox Beta" which was a reworked version of the older firefox which wasn't very good. Maybe that's what you tried. You should try firefox again and see what you think. But I think I like opera better now.