By Krystian Kolondra, EVP browsers
2020 is on, and at Opera, we are already working at full speed on new things for everyone who wants a better browser.
This year we skipped the traditional new year’s resolutions, but it’s good to reflect for a moment and recap what happened in 2019.
In the browser division, we continued our innovation path and our user base continued to grow, our products received awards and user ratings continued upward. We are grateful for all the positive feedback we have gotten and I am proud of what the browser team achieved in 2019.
Opera has been my browser of choice for 20 years now, and 13 of those years I spent working on it. I’ve seen ambitious and passionate teams in Norway, Sweden, Poland, and France innovating and working long days to deliver products that over 300M people around the world use to access the web.
The internet is constantly evolving, and browsers need to adapt and follow the lead to stay ahead – something that requires constant innovation. This is a big focus for us, and we are proud that our browsers have features that are years ahead of the competition.
Our mission is to help our users in their daily work, research, and fun, bringing complex technologies to their devices without the need to configure anything. That’s why you can use a VPN or crypto wallet in our browsers instantly, and block ads without any extensions.
Some say browsers are mature, serious (and boring) utilities they take for granted. That’s not a common view at Opera, and we challenge that idea as much as we can. You can see it in the design and features of our products. The real manifestation is the new gaming browser: Opera GX.
The internal joke is that we made Opera GX because we could and no one else dared to. The truth is: we love games ourselves, and gamers deserve a better, dedicated browser.
What’s happening in 2020, you ask?
Gaming hardware, gaming software, esports – the revolution is already happening. The gaming sector is seeing growth in all the verticals, with no signs of weakness. Encouraged by the success of our Early Access version that surpassed the million user mark quickly, we are working on leveling up Opera GX, and doubling our efforts there. The feedback on Opera GX has been amazing, with its user ratings hitting a record high of 4.8 out of 5 stars.
What else can be expected? Well, we never disclose new features until they ship, but we are working on productivity and time-saving functions, and improvements for tasks we do every day. We put the user in control – thus further enhancements to how they can control their online privacy and security will take place. And maybe a few more surprises we’ll keep under wraps for now.
Thank you for using our browsers, it is a pleasure to carry on making them for you.
Read below about what was going on with our products in 2019.
Opera for PC
2019 had a strong start with the Reborn 3 release – a new beautiful interface, more privacy options, and Web 3 access for everyone thanks to our crypto wallet.
Throughout the year we launched seven major versions in which we continued to innovate by bringing a range of improvements to the product. We made our free, unlimited, no-log browser VPN and our built-in ad blocker even easier to use. With the addition of our tracker blocker, these are very powerful tools for improving your privacy.
Browsers are for browsing – we have never forgotten that. The new, improved address bar and its drop-down suggestions help you navigate to pages more intuitively. Bookmarks and history in sidebar panels make sure you always have your links at hand. The new start page with additional functions lets you get to content faster, and the snapshot tool with new functionalities gives you a fun way of sharing content with your friends, and we could go on.
All of these features help Opera PC offer a unique browsing experience so that people can enjoy the web the way they like, either for work or in their personal lives.
2019 was an exciting year for gamers!
We noticed that the gaming community expects different features, as well as a unique look and feel from any software they are using. This is why in June, during E3 – the gaming convention in Los Angeles, Opera launched a completely new product – the world’s first gaming browser. Opera GX was very well received, not only by the media and gamers but also by designers. This is why we were presented with the Red Dot Design Award.
Within a very short timeframe, the browser had already been downloaded over 1 million times! We spent a lot of time in early access making improvements based on your feedback. There have been 21 updates already and many improvements were introduced as a direct result of comments that you left us, including the special version for our Mac users.
Opera for Android
With five major releases and over 100 big and small features added to the product, we have seen an increasing number of people giving us a 5-star rating in Google Play. With an average of 4.6 stars from more than 3M ratings, we are proud of having built the best Android browser we possibly can for our growing user base.
As for some of the bigger additions, we released a free, unlimited, no-log browser VPN and continued to pioneer the field of Web 3.0 and Blockchains by also including Bitcoin support in our popular Crypto Wallet.
In October we gave Opera for Android a full visual refresh along with a set of new personalization features, theme colors, and a dark mode. At the end of 2019, we also released a revamped and highly configurable night mode that can darken all web pages if you’d like.
The fast and lightweight Opera Mini browser is very popular in Africa and Southeast Asia and was the most downloaded browser in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa according to AppAnnie as of November 2019.
Last year we brought numerous updates to Mini, improving the money-saving data compression and establishing a dedicated data center in Africa, making browsing up to 4x faster. Considering the popularity of wifi-based file sharing, we have incorporated this as a feature so that users can find, download and share music, videos and apps directly in our browser.
Recently Opera began a partnership with Mdundo, a leading African music sharing platform, to bring music fans closer to their favorite songs. For free, Opera Mini users can listen to and download songs from the most recognized artists in numerous countries across Africa including Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.
To further stress Opera Mini’s focus on the African market, we supported local operators in launching new mobile data plans, making web browsing cheaper.
Opera Touch got smarter and matured this year. We brought you the useful cookie dialog blocker that lets you remove annoying cookie prompts, and new functionalities like sending files through My Flow, search widgets, and protecting file-sharing access to My Flow. We also refreshed the looks, simplified the UI and introduced the option to change what type of navigation suits you best.
In 2019 Opera Touch was also recognized with the top distinction of the iF gold award.
Last but not least, Opera Touch for iOS now also features Crypto Wallet. Like the Opera browser for Android, Opera Touch is now Web 3 compatible, making interactions with DApps seamless, without the need for browser extensions.
So which of our browsers do you like the most? Which features or improvements would you like us to make? Feel free to drop a comment below.