Friday, January 13, 2017

Opera Neon: A Modern Web Browser Concept

Browsers have gotten boring. After a flurry of innovation, especially around the time Google launched Chrome, things slowed down over the last few years. We’ve seen a few interesting experiments, mostly from smaller players like Yandex, Brave and Vivaldi, but the largest players have pretty much stuck to their script. Opera, which was sold to a consortium of Chinese companies last year, is now doing its part to mix things up with the launch of Opera Neon, an experimental desktop browser for Windows and Mac that tries to re imagine what a modern browser should look like.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first-time Opera has tried to make a second web browser along with the default Opera browser—sometime ago, they launched the Coast browser for iOS devices, which also had focused on minimalism and a clutter free browsing experience.

Open Neon for the first time, and it becomes very clear that this isn’t the standard fare web browser, such as the likes of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, which you may have been using all along. The home screen has your favourite websites (these can be customized) as bubbles placed in such a way that it feels like they are floating around the screen. Your desktop background/wallpaper is visible, because the browser home screen is translucent. It might be time to change that default Windows or OS X wallpaper to something fancier, perhaps?

Neon's omnibox supports several popular search engines, but defaults to Google – Opera may want to rock the boat, but not to the point of upending expectations.
The video player in the left-hand sidebar can launch a miniature video window that persists while browsing another page. It's a useful alternative to tiling browser windows to view videos while scanning other pages.
The ability to take web page snapshots of varying sizes and to save the images in a gallery for later review is well-executed.
And the split-screen mode simplifies working with two pages at once, even though there are plenty of utilities, like Magnet on the Mac, that provide similar functionality.

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