New Opera For Android Makes Switch From Presto To WebKit

Browser maker Opera just released a new version for Android with a slew of new features, an upgraded design and better performance. And, for the first time for Opera, it is not running on its own Presto rendering engine.

Opera for Android is running WebKit.

In February, Opera said that it was ditching Presto in favor of WebKit, the open source browser engine that powers the likes of Apple's Safari browser and Google Chrome. The release of the new Opera for Android is the first "final" (gold version, not in a beta stage) release of Opera running WebKit, according to Falguni Bhuta from the Opera communications team.

Opera's decision caused a bit of a hullabaloo among the browser communityMozilla's Robert O’Callahan said at the time that it was, "a sad day for the Web." O'Callahan and other browser enthusiasts lamented the loss of Presto, as it was one of only a small handful of browser rendering engines available to developers. Including WebKit, the others are Mozilla's Gecko and Microsoft's Trident for Internet Explorer.

New Features Come To Opera

Rounding up the new features for Opera, users will find some interesting capabilities:

Discover - A new feature to Opera for Android, "Discover" helps users find new articles with just a swipe from the homescreen. Opera has selected relevant global and regional news sources to give users a way to find what it going on around them.

Off-Road mode - Opera Mini has long been known for its compression technology that helps users minimize how much cellular data their browser is using. This often helps when you are having trouble getting a data connection or are roaming and is new to the full Android version of Opera. 

Combined address and search bar - Basically, Opera just created its own "omnibox" that allows you to type in website URLs or search from the same field.

Tabbed browsing - Not specifically new in the final Opera for Android version, but the UI has changed a bit from the last version and offers private browsing.

History - Easier to find your browser history. Swipe to the right to access content from the left of the homescreen.

Save for later - Allows you to download a complete webpage so as to read it later or while offline. Goes well with the "Off-Road" mode when you just want to be able to load an article or a website for later review but know that you are not going to have access to cellular data or Wi-Fi. 

Customizable navigation bar - Top or bottom, put the navigation bar where you want it.

New Speed Dial - Opera's "Speed Dial" feature now syncs with bookmarks to provide easier access to frequently visited websites from Opera's homescreen.

The new version of Opera can be found for free in Google Play.