Opera releases Webkit-based Android browser

Opera releases Webkit-based Android browser

Summary: Opera's new Webkit browser for Android has hit Google's Play store.

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TOPICS: Browser, Android
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Browser maker Opera has released its first Android browser built on the WebKit rendering engine, less than a month after announcing it was ditching its own Presto engine. 

The new browser, available on Google Play in beta from Tuesday, will be sleeker than its predecessors, according to Opera, and includes a new user interface, Opera-curated content discovery, and a revamped Speed Dial feature containing icons to popular sites.

The Android browser includes Opera Mini’s data compression for poor network conditions is also integrated, a combined search and address bar, and tabbed as well as private browsing. Other features include saved history and the option to store web pages for reading without a network connection.

"There are countless hours that have gone into making this completely new, completely re-thought Opera for Android," said Opera Software EVP of product development Rikard Gillemyr in a statement.

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In February, Norway's Opera announced it would make the switch to WebKit, the rendering engine used in Chrome and Safari, which was viewed as an effort to improve performance that lagged its rivals and streamline development.

Opera is expected to release the final version of its Android browser in the second quarter and also may release its iOS browser in about a month, according to ZDNet's sister site, CNET.

It's been a busy year for Opera. Besides changing the core of its browser, amidst ongoing rumours it was gearing up to be acquired, the company has acquired SkyFire and and spun off its mobile advertising into a the new subsidiary, Opera Mediaworks. In addition, Opera co-founder Jon S von Tetzchner reportedly lowered his holdings in the company to just over five percent, a level that would no longer allow him block an acquisition deal.

Topics: Browser, Android

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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7 comments
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  • Great Browser

    Opere is a great browser. When I first installed it on my rooted, Cyanogenmoddded Nook Color it completely revolutionized the we browsing experience for me. So silky smooth and fast. It was also my browser or choice on my HTC Flyer, until Firefox caught up in usability, speed and fluidity terms. It's still my broser of choice on my aging HTC Evo 4G.

    Now I own a Nexus 7, and see no good reason to use anything other than Chrome on my tablet. Still, I will always have a soft spot for Opera, the web browser that made my first Android device a delight to use.
    dsf3g
    • Too bad it isn't Opera any more

      The mobile web browser monopoly is alive and well. Standards? Pshaw, who needs 'em? Tell the W3C to go take a flying leap. webkit is the "standard" and now that apple is firmly in control of the monopoly, common standards are now a bad thing.

      Kudos Mozilla. Kudos Microsoft. You guys are the only ones left fighting for web standards.
      toddbottom3
      • Webkit is open source. Fork it and

        make your own perfect standards compliant version.
        baggins_z
        • That isn't the problem, not surprised you couldn't figure it out

          Your argument is the equivalent of saying:
          "If you don't like the fact that much of the web was written so that it would only look good on IE, just browse with a standards compliant browser and everything will be fine."

          The problem is that apple is doing the classic embrace, extend, and extinguish on web standards. It is the EXTENSIONS to the W3C standard that is killing the web. Web developers who create web sites that aren't standard but are fine tuned to work on apple's tightly controlled version of web kit means that those of us who browse with standards compliant browsers like IE 10 or Firefox get an inferior experience. Things don't work right, all thanks to apple's extensions to the W3C standards.

          Forking webkit is the dumbest suggestion I've ever heard and won't fix the problem.
          toddbottom3
        • Hook, line, and sinker.

          You just had to take that bait, didn't you?
          Champ_Kind
  • very nice (so far)

    While chrome is nice, its always seemed a bit slower overall than stock or firefox beta, for example. So far I can see this new opera as being my prime browser, as it has the 'off road' mode and is really clean and nice looking, with cover flow, etc. It doesn't have zoom reflow, but hopefully that will get added.
    drwong
  • I believe Skyfire uses Webkit ...

    and Skyfire has the ability to greatly enhance Opera. Skyfire aquisition was likely a tipping point in the decision to take the whole Opera browser to Webkit. I like Opera (and specifically the home screen with frequently used Web Shortcuts) on mobile. I am not as big of a fan of Opera on Windows because it seems to me that the interface (at least the last time I used it much) was cluttered. I look forward to seeing what Webkit Opera with Skyfire built in will let me do (and do with less bandwidth being used, faster, etc...) as compared with other browsers. It really is about what it can let you do, as opposed to how it does it (as long as the experience is still positive).
    jkohut