Opera 57 for Android: improved offline pages and data saving controls

Opera Software launched a new version of the company’s mobile web browser for Google’s Android operating system today. Opera 57 for Android introduces several improvements and new features including improved data saving controls, options to customize the storage location for offline pages on the device, faster Speed Dial access, and more.

The update is available on Google Play already; users who use Google Play may check the list of updates in the Store to pick up the new version of the mobile Opera browser.

The browser launches a “what’s new” page on first start after the update has been installed that lists the new features. Users who have enabled the data saving feature of the browser in previous versions may notice that it is now highlighted in the browser’s address bar.

The new data saving badge provides quick access to the data saving feature and its settings. Opera users may turn the feature on or off from the new management interface and configure the handling of images there as well.

opera 57 android

Android Opera users who have had troubles using the browser’s offline pages functionality in the past because of storage space restrictions may now set the storage location. Opera for Android used internal storage in previous versions but that can now be changed so that external cards or storage locations may be used to store offline pages in the browser. Any open page in the browser can be saved to the device with a tap on Menu > Offline pages.

Another new feature in Opera 57 for Android is auto-completion for Speed Dial pages. When text that is typed in the browser’s address bar matches a Speed Dial page set in Opera, it is auto-completed automatically so that users only need to hit the Go button to open that page; this may speed up access to Speed Dial pages further for users who prefer to type in the address bar.

Opera will prompt users when it notices that YouTube is loaded in the browser; the prompt allows users to switch to the YouTube app instead to watch the video or browse the site. A tap on “no thanks” denies the request.

Last but not least, Opera Software improved the browser’s built in crypto wallet by including support for Web 3.0 websites with crypto domains as well as .eth and .xyz using IPFS. Users from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong may now also buy cryptocurrency in the browser (which users from the United States and Scandinavia could for a while).

Now You: Which mobile browser do you use, and why?

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What is Opera Browser Assistant and how to disable it?

If you have a version of the Opera web browser installed on your devices there is a chance that Opera Browser Assistant is running. Additionally, you may also notice, at least on Windows, that Opera Browser Assistant is an entry in the startup settings of the operating system which means that it is launched whenever Windows starts.

Windows users may open the Task Manager to verify that. Use the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open the Task Manager. If you use Windows 10 and see only the minimal (useless) version, select more details. Once done, switch to the Startup tab to see all startup items.

There you may find listed Opera Browser Assistant.

opera browser assistant

Switch to the Processes tab to see if one or multiple Opera Browser Assistant (32-bit) processes are running as well.

opera browser assistant process

If you verify the file, which you find in C:Users***USERNAME***AppDataLocalProgramsOperaassistant, you will notice that it is signed by Opera Software AS. Note that Opera Beta and Opera Developer may also come with the assistant program and that they use different folders by default.

So, why is Opera Browser Assistant starting with the operating system and what it is used for? I could not find any official information about the feature of the Opera web browser but if you monitor its execution, you may notice that it adds an Opera icon to the system tray when started.

It appears to be some sort of fast-loader for the browser; it is unclear, however, if other functionality is baked into the process as well, e.g. updating, or if System Tray functionality is all there is to it. The System Tray functionality is limited to starting the Opera web browser with a left-click or right-click. The only other option is to close the System Tray application.

Users have talked about the “feature” for some time. There is a post about it on the official Opera forum that dates back to May 2019.

How to remove Opera Browser Assistant?

The easy option is to disable the program from starting up with the system; this can be done in the Task Manager by right-clicking on Opera Browser Assistant in the Startup tab and selecting the Disable option from the context menu.

disable opera browser assistant

The status should switch to Disabled indicating that the program won’t be started anymore on system start.

The second option that you have is to delete the Opera Browser Assistant files as well on the system. You can use a program like Autostarts to remove the startup entry from the system as well or keep it disabled.

It is possible however that an update or a new installation of the Opera browser on the system will restore the files or change the startup type to Enabled again. It is necessary to monitor this carefully to avoid this.

Closing Words

Opera Software, and any other software company, should prompt users whenever changes such as adding a program to the autostart need to be made. Most users probably have no use for Opera Browser Assistant, especially since there is barely any info about its functionality.

Now You: What is your take on this? (via Techdows)

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Opera 67 Stable launches with Workspaces feature

Opera Software has released a new stable version of the Opera desktop web browser on February 25, 2020. Opera 67 is available for all supported operating systems as an in-browser update or new installation. Users of the web browser may select Opera Menu > Update & Recovery to run a check for updates (or by loading opera://update/ in the browser’s address bar directly).

The browser should pick up the new version and install it automatically. The big new feature of Opera 67 is called Workspaces. We looked at an initial version of the feature back in December 2019 when it was launched in the latest Opera development builds.

Workspaces is an attempt to improve the management of tabs in the browser. Basically, what it allows you to do is place tabs into workspaces to access a subset of open tabs at once. The feature may look like Firefox’s container functionality but it is different as it is only used to separate tabs but not to contain browsing data inside.

opera 67 workspaces

Opera 67 displays workspaces in the browser’s sidebar; a click switches to the selected workspace and you will notice that a new tabbar gets loaded when you switch between workspaces in the browser.

Opera 67 users may create up to five different workspaces; this is done with a click on the sidebar menu (the three dots at the bottom of the sidebar).

opera workspaces

There you also find options to disable the feature if you don’t want to use it. It is furthermore possible to change the name of a workspace and use a different icon from a selection of icons for it.

Opera Software improved the feature since its initial launch. It is now possible to open links in workspaces and to move tabs from one workspace to another; the latter not by using drag & drop but by right-clicking on a tab and selecting the move to workspace option that becomes available then.

Opera Software highlights additional features in the new release. First, a redesigned option to cycle through tabs using Ctrl-Tab to cycle through open tabs that are displayed as thumbnails on the screen, and then a new duplicate tab highlighter that becomes active when you hover the mouse over a tab in the browser.

A new option to add sidebar extensions to the sidebar of the browser. A click on “add more” on the sidebar opens the add-ons store where these may be installed in the browser.

Opera also includes options to enable DNS over HTTPS and to select the service that you want to use for that by selecting one of the available preset services or by customizing the functionality.

Last but not least, video pop-out functionality was improved with a new next-track button, back to tab button, and a video timer.

You can download the latest version of the Opera web browser from the company’s website.

Now You: have you tried Opera recently? What is your impression?

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Opera 56 for Android launches with improved reader mode

Opera Software released Opera 56 for Android today; the new version of the mobile browser comes with reader mode improvements, configurable address bar buttons, and tab restoration improvements.

The update is already available and should be pushed to Android devices automatically that have automatic updates enabled. New users can download the web browser from Google Play by following this link.

Opera 56 for Android

opera 56 android reader mode

Opera Software highlights three main features that are new or improved in the release in the official blog post on the Opera website.

The second feature sounds the most interesting to me so lets start with that. Opera users who run the browser on Android may set a default address bar action button in the new release. The default button is Reader Mode while Reload has been moved to the menu.

The company notes that reloading is till possible by swiping down from the top of the web page. Opera users who prefer Reload to be displayed in the address bar, or another action button, can make that happen in the new release.

opera 56 android appearance

Here is how that is done:

  1. Tap on the Menu button and select Settings.
  2. Locate and activate Appearance under Browser.
  3. Scroll down on the page that opens and activate “shortcut in address bar”.
  4. Select one of the available shortcuts to make it the default. Available are, among others, Reader Mode, Reload, Translate, Share, Find in Page, Save as PDf, or Add to bookmarks.

Note that you can add only one shortcut to the address bar using the feature and that you may activate some of the other features using the menu.

The second improvement on Opera 56 for Android, the one that Opera put first, affects the built-in Reader Mode. Reader Mode improves readability by turning convoluted web pages into basic pages that focus on text content.

In Opera 56, Reader Mode is available directly from the address bar if the browser detects an article that would benefit from it. The Wikipedia example above highlights how an article on Wikipedia looks like when it is displayed in Reader Mode.

I also tried this on Ghacks but the feature does not work on this site at all. If you display the mobile site, no Reader Mode icon is shown. If you load the desktop site instead, the Reader Mode icon is displayed but activating it displays only the first two paragraphs of the article.

The third and final feature that Opera Software highlights in the new mobile release improves the resurrection of closed tabs. The list of closed tabs is displayed in chronological order now in the browser. Previously, only the option to restore the last tab that was closed was available which was not very user friendly.

Now You: Which mobile browser do you use?

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What is going on at Opera Software?

An analysis of Opera Software’s performance by Hindenburg Research suggests that the company that is best known for its Opera web browser faces troubling times.

Note: Hindenburg Research specializes in “forensic financial research”. Opera Software has not reacted to the report at the time of writing. The law firm of Kirby McInerney LLP is investigating these potential claims against Opera Limited.

The company was acquired by a Chinese-based investor group in 2018 prior to its IPO and things have taken a turn for the worse since then. The company’s browser gross margins “collapsed by 22.6% in just one year” and the company has “swung to negative $12 million in LTM operating cash flow” from a positive $32 million in the 2018 period.

opera browser

Hindenburg Research’s analysis of Opera Software’s performance and activity since the management change. It uncovered that Opera’s CEO “was recently involved in a Chinese lending business” that saw its shares plunge by more than “80% in two years” and that Opera has started to make a “similar and dramatic pivot into predatory short-term loans in Africa and India”.

The bulk of Opera’s lending business is operated through applications offered on Google’s Play Store according to Hindenburg Research and in “violation of numerous Google rules”. The company concludes that these applications may be removed by Google at any time which in turn would cause Opera Software to lose a large part of the company’s revenue.

According to Hindenburg, Opera generates “over 42% of the company’s revenue” from its short-term loan business. If that would not be bad enough already, Hindenburg Research’s analysis suggests that Opera’s CEO is directing company cash into businesses owned by the Chairman to “draw out cash”.

Hindenburg Research believes that Opera stock will go down significantly in the next 12 month period. The company set a price target of $2.60 on Opera; Opera Ltd’s last course was $7.05 on NASDAQ on January 17, 2020. The course was at $9.02 two days prior but took a dive after reports went live.

What does this  mean for users of the Opera web browser?

It is too early to come to a final conclusion. The claims made by Hindenburg Research need to be be looked at and it remains to be seen how Opera will react to the report.

If the allegations are true, it could potentially mean the end of Opera and the Opera web browser.

Now You: What is your take on all of this?

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