Opera Software has released Opera Neon, the company’s first ever “concept browser”. It’s been designed from the ground up to focus on web content and provide a different way of browsing and consuming the web.
Despite the fact it’s a concept browser, Opera Neon is based on the existing Opera desktop engine, and so is a fully functional browser in its own right.
2016 saw Opera step up its game, introducing a raft of new features including native ad-blocker, built-in free VPN, battery saver, personal newsreader and video pop-up (this latter feature is present in Opera Neon too).
Fire up the browser, and you’re immediately presented with a streamlined start page, using your desktop background as its backdrop and providing both a series of shortcut icons and an omnibox supporting both direct web links and multiple search engines.
After typing your link or search terms a window-within-a-window pops up with the page’s contents displayed – you’ll also see an icon appear on the right representing that page’s tab. You can minimise to return to the start page to open more tabs.
Tabs aren’t static, but managed to ensure more frequently used tabs rise to the top of the list. Drag a tab on to the Start page to pin the website to it for easier access going forward.
Opera Neon also supports a split-screen view, allowing you to view two pages side-by-side by dragging a second tab on to the omnibar of an already open window – after a short pause, you’ll be prompted to place it to the left or right of that window.
The feature isn’t particularly innovative – rival browser Vivaldi, launched by Opera co-founder Jon S von Tetzhner, already offers a superior means of grouping and displaying multiple pages together, but perhaps this is an example of how Vivaldi’s emergence has played a role in pushing Opera in raising its game.
Opera Neon also provides a sidebar on the left that provides one-click shortcuts to a video player, image gallery, snapshot tool, and download manager. The video player pops out and allows you to watch video from a resizable always-on-top window while consuming content from other pages.
The browser is not designed to replace Opera, although it’s surprisingly polished and could easily be as a primary browser thanks to support for bookmarks, developer tools and other core features. Instead, expect to see some of its functionality transition across to Opera’s desktop line throughout 2017.
Opera Neon is available now as a free download for Windows and Mac.