While the Web has evolved in dramatic ways over the past two decades, Web browsers haven’t kept up with the new demands, according to Opera Software. That’s why developers at the Oslo-based company have created Opera Neon, an experimental browser built for the future needs of online users.
Released today as a free download for both Windows and Mac, Neon isn’t designed to replace Opera’s current browser, although some of the new features being tested in Neon could show up in the next version of the Opera browser later this year, the company said.
Neon is built on the Blink Web browser engine, released in 2013 as a group effort by Google, Opera and several other tech companies. However, Opera said the concept browser was developed from scratch to deliver a number of new features not seen in other browsers.
Focus on Content, Interactivity
“The first thing we did was to ask, ‘What truly makes the Internet great?’,” Opera product manager Joanna Czajka said in a video about Neon’s release. The answer was all of the Web’s varied content, including images, videos and more, she said.
“We realized that the current browsers stopped focusing on those Web parts,” Czajka said. “They treat the Web like documents in a briefcase, only there for you to manage. It doesn’t sound like a fun way of experiencing the Internet, right?”
Opera’s developers and designers looked for ways to “bring the best parts of the Internet closer to people,” Czajka said. Part of their work involved changing the standard browser interface to make it much more interactive for users, she said.
Tabs Appear as ‘Bubbles’
For example, Neon’s start page features the user’s personal desktop background image, with a visual bar of tab “bubbles” on the right side. A video player, image gallery and download manager, meanwhile, appear in a sidebar to the left. At the top is what Opera calls a “completely new omnibox” that supports both open search and top search engines.
Users can add any new Web sites to their tab bars by dragging and dropping the sites’ “bubbles” to the right-hand bar. The video player also lets users pop out videos to play in a small screen while they’re browsing other Web pages.
Another feature lets users quickly crop any part of a Web page to take a snapshot they can save to the browser’s gallery for later viewing or sharing. There’s also a split-screen mode for viewing two separate tabs side by side at the same time.
“While Opera Neon has lots of new features — and many of the Opera browser features you know and love — there are some key features we have not included, such as our native ad-blocker, VPN and the ability to add extensions,” executive vice president Krystian Kolondra wrote today in a post on the company’s blog. “The reason for this is simply that Opera Neon is a concept browser, built for experimentation and play.”
For now, Neon remains experimental, “a vision of what browsers could become,” Kolondra added. However, “we do plan to incorporate some of its best new features into Opera for computers as early as spring 2017,” he said.
Originally published at www.cio-today.com.