Attention Android users — Opera is finally ready for prime time on your phone.
The WebKit-based Opera for Android Web browser on Tuesday finally graduated from beta, and became available for download from the Google Play store. This is the first browser Opera has released since announcing a transition in February from its own Presto rendering engine to the open-source WebKit engine that powers Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari browsers.
Opera promised its new browser will give Android users the easiest and fastest way to explore content on their phone. The company has redesigned the Opera interface, giving it a lighter colour scheme and making it more intuitive to use.
The browser boasts a feature called Discover, which Opera calls "the best thing to happen to a browser since the back button." With Discover, you can select your interests from categories like arts, news, and technology and find relevant articles with a simple swipe to the right from the home screen.
"Most people just see a fraction of what the Web has to offer," Rikard Gillemyr, executive VP of consumer products at Opera Software, said in a statement. "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."
There's also a feature called Off-Road, which promises to help speed up browsing on "even the most sluggish of sluggishy networks, all over the world," Gillemyr said. The feature uses data compression to reduce the amount of data traffic while browsing on your phone. This should save you time and frustration when browsing on a bad connection and money when roaming while travelling.
Other features include Speed Dial for quickly calling up bookmarked pages and text reflow, which lets you view Web text at any zoom level without having to scroll sideways. You can also see a visual overview of all the pages you have open, and switch between them with the swipe of a finger.
Opera for Android is available for free from Google Play for any phone running Android 2.3 or above.