Opera Browser Introduces Free Integrated VPN

Norwegian internet browser Opera now includes a free, unlimited VPN natively, meaning that its users “don’t have to download VPN extensions or pay for VPN subscriptions to access blocked websites and to shield your browsing when on public Wi-Fi,” according to the official announcement.

Opera’s blog post reads:

According to Global Web Index*, more than half a billion people (24% of the world’s internet population) have tried or are currently using VPN services. According to the research, the primary reasons for people to use a VPN are:

  • To access better entertainment content (38%)
  • To keep anonymity while browsing (30%)
  • To access restricted networks and sites in my country (28%)
  • To access restricted sites at work (27%)
  • To communicate with friends/family abroad (24%)
  • To access restricted news websites in my country (22%)

According to the research, young people are leading the way when it comes to VPN usage, with almost one third of people between 16-34 having used a VPN.

The in-browser VPN is only available as part of the most recent developer version, but set to arrive in the release version following successful testing and refinement.

Opera’s in-browser VPN follows its native ad-blocker, released as part of its last developer version last month, in an effort to centralise its user’s needs in one package.

Opera 38 developer version can be downloaded here.

First Final Version of Vivaldi Web Browser Released

The Vivaldi Web Browser is considered by many to be the true successor to the popular Opera browser of yesteryear, before, in many people’s eyes, it lost its way. After months in development, ex-Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner has finally released the first full version of Vivaldi to the general public, which is packed with features that will enable power users to browse the web in a more efficient and customized way than before.

Some of the features that are crammed into Vivaldi include a number of popular Opera staples such as Speed Dial, which shows popular and favourited sites on new tabs, but also contains a number of brand new powerful options. Tab stacks, tiling, mouse gestures, sessions and browser panels are just some of the new tools that von Tetzchner and his team have developed for Vivaldi in order to make it a great choice for power users. If that wasn’t enough, due to being based on the Chromium project, Vivaldi supports Chrome extensions, so you can truly make it the browser you need.

Vivaldi 1.0 is available for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux right now and although it is still early days to see whether the browser lives up to its feature list in practice, it is nice to see a browser willing to add more features instead of being stripped down and relying on extensions.

Opera Browser Adds Native Ad-Blocking

While internet browser Opera isn’t quite the technical powerhouse it used to be, the Norwegian company has announced that it is adding native ad-blocking to the software. The feature is included in the latest developer edition of the browser – but deactivated by default – and the company believes its native system is more effective than third-party apps, and that blocking ads will speed up page loads by up to 40%, on average, with some sites potentially seeing speed improvements of up to 90%.

“If there were no bloated ads, some top websites would load up to 90% faster,” Opera’s Senior Vice President for Global Engineering Krystian Kolondra writes in a post on the official Opera blog. “Today, we wanted to share with you a native ad-blocking technology in our Developer channel for Opera for computers. “Native” means unmatched speed vs extensions, since the blocking happens at the web engine level.”

“We are the first major browser vendor to integrate an ad-blocking feature, but this development should be a no surprise to anyone given the rising popularity of ad-blocking software and even Apple allowing it on its platform,” Kolondra adds.

The move is sure to be controversial, with sites such as Forbes and The New York Times blocking their content for users of ad-blocking software, but Kolondra says that Opera is only serving the desires of its users.

“Advertising fuels the internet, allowing for many services to be free for users,” Kolondra  writes. “But, as our new research shows, most webpages today are significantly slowed down by bloated ads and heavy tracking. We don’t accept it – we want the web to be a better place for us all, as users.”

Vivaldi Browser is the True Successor to Opera

Many internet users, myself included, were disappointed by the death of the Opera browser. It was my primary browser for nearly a decade, as it was for many other smart internet users, but it only ever held around 5% of the browser market share.

While, admittedly, I found the latter iterations of the browser to be bloated, sluggish, and prone to memory leaks, at its peak, Opera was the fastest, safest, and most customisable browser available. Sadly, in an effort to become more commercially viable, Opera dropped its innovative Presto engine, opting instead for Google’s Blink rendering engine, effectively making the browser a stripped-down version of Chrome. The Opera logo remained, yes, but the browser we knew was now dead.

Thankfully, Opera co-founder and former CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, in partnership with fellow former Opera employee Tatsuki Tomita, has picked up the baton his former company dropped to launch Vivaldi, a high-end browser designed to appeal to heavy internet users and former Opera fans and one which intends to form strong bonds with its community.

While Vivaldi, like modern Opera, utilises the Chromium engine rather than its own custom engine, it manages to have its cake and eat it, too: it is as though Vivaldi has taken the modern Opera and included the rich features of the old Presto version, effectively telling its predecessor, ‘this is how you do it.’

As Von Tetzchner told Ivan Minic last year, “When it comes to drafting a completely new engine, there is a very good reason why no one has done it in the last 15 years. It is an extremely difficult and complicated process, and it takes extreme amounts of work in order to be compatible with all other standards.”

While Vivaldi is desktop-only at present – “we started with a desktop version because it was a starting point from Opera,” Von Tetzchner said – there are plans afoot for a mobile version for tablets and smartphones.

Von Tetzchner sold his shares in Opera back in 2014 – three years after leaving the company over its new strategy – to launch Vivaldi, and the move looks to have paid off. I’ve been using the Beta 2 build of Vivaldi – which launched on 17th December, 2015 – for the last couple of weeks, and it is everything I could have hoped for, delivering the Opera I knew back in 2009 in the form of a decidedly modern, beautiful browser interface.

Vivaldi Beta 2 for Windows, Mac, and Linux can be downloaded from the Vivaldi website.

Microsoft Discouraging Users From Downloading Competing Browsers

Microsoft is aggressively pushing the Edge browser in Windows 10 and trying to prevent users from downloading an alternative such as Chrome, Firefox or Opera. By default, Windows 10 only includes Microsoft products such as Edge or Internet Explorer 11 and you have to use Bing to procure a different browser. If you search for any other leading browser, a message pops up and proclaims, “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10,” and contains a “Learn why” button next to that message which directs you to a website outlining Edge’s feature set. In lieu of these revelations, Microsoft issued a statement which reads:

“Microsoft Edge was designed exclusively for Windows 10 with features and functionality that enhance the browsing experience such as Cortana, Web Note and Quick answers,”  

“These notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them get to know these experiences better. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice.”

This kind of advertising isn’t limited to Microsoft as Google often argues the benefits of using Chrome. Although, EU courts have come down quite strong on Microsoft for pushing their browser.  In 2013, Microsoft were fined £481 million by a European court for engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. Originally, Microsoft divulged information about other web browsers to stop Internet Explorer’s unfair monopoly. However, this feature magically disappeared after a Windows 7 update. Microsoft argued this was due to a technical error. Whatever the case, it seems Microsoft is once again pushing their own browser and could be misconstrued as being unfair to the competiton. On another note, I’m not entirely convinced the notification will make any user refrain from downloading a competing product.

Thank you Venturebeat for providing us with this information.

Firefox Set to Become More Like Chrome

Mozilla is set to implement a number of changes to its Firefox internet browser that will make it more like Google Chrome. Though the revisions will make Firefox more secure and stable, as well as making Chrome apps, extensions, and add-ons available for the browser, it will strip away many of the customisable features and increase its memory demands, no doubt infuriating long-term Firefox users in the process.

According to a Mozilla blog post today, Firefox will adopt the WebExtensions API, which will make it easier for developers to create apps that are compatible with Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, while also integrating Electrolysis to handle background content processing and the Rust-coded Servo technology.

Regarding the scope of the changes, Mozilla writes:

The strategy announced here necessarily involves a lot of trade-offs. Developers who already support Chrome extensions will benefit since they will have one codebase to support instead of two. Developers of Firefox-only add-ons will have to make changes. Those changes may require considerable development effort up-front, but we feel the end result will be worth that effort for both Firefox’s users and developers.

Firefox isn’t the first browser to lose its identity. The Opera browser, though far from popular, was well-respected for its speed and advanced user features. In 2013, however, Opera ditched its Presto engine in favour of Chromium, becoming little more than a stripped-down Chrome clone in the process.

A preview release of WebExtensions is included with Firefox 42, with a full roll-out set to occur in the near future.

Thank you Mozilla for providing us with this information.

YouTube Live Streaming Now Available With HTML5 and 60FPS Support

It looks like the old Flash Player is going to be scrapped sooner than expected. After enabling support for HTML5 video playback, YouTube is now extending that support to live streaming sessions. This means that users can now watch live streaming videos on HTML5-enabled browsers and at 60FPS!

The slow process looks to have started late last year, when every video uploaded on the streaming service could keep its 60FPS ratio. Up until October last year, all videos were automatically converted to 30FPS once uploaded. In addition to the latter, YouTube quietly made HTML5 its default player early this year, so it would make sense for the company to continue towards fully integrating the HTML5 player.

The technology is now widely supported in all major browsers like Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari and even Internet Explorer. However, YouTube stated that the HTML5 playback for live streaming is still undergoing development, so don’t expect it to do miracles just yet. Still, the technology now is able to deliver 720p or 1080p at 60FPS and users can even skip backwards in a live stream or even play around with its play speed.

Let’s not forget about the hardware here. I mean as good as HTML5 player sounds, it still needs some hardware specs to have it run at 60FPS. This is why YouTube comes with an option to change playback to 30FPS, should 60FPS be too much for your device. Nevertheless, we are moving towards a 4K video playback era, so it’s likely everyone will upgrade their hardware sooner or later.

Thank you VentureBeat for providing us with this information

Microsoft to Ditch Internet Explorer

Poor Internet Explorer. Slow performance, poor security, and the butt of jokes and memes for over a decade.

Its feelings obviously hurt, there will be no Internet Explorer 12 to accompany Windows 10 next year. Microsoft is officially retiring the browser and replacing it with a new, improved model, codenamed Spartan. As its name suggests, Spartan will be a lightweight, stripped down browser, in the same vein as Chrome, Firefox, or Opera Next. Spartan will be available for both desktop and mobile devices, though Windows 10 will ship with Internet Explorer 11, for compatibility reasons.

Though no release date has been announced, further news is rumoured to be revealed on 21st January, 2015.

Source: FavBrowser

Is Firefox Coming to iOS?

After firmly denying that Firefox could ever make it to iOS, citing Apple’s prohibition of its web engine, Mozilla’s new CEO might be steering the company into a u-turn. At an event in Portland on Tuesday, Mozilla discussed their desire to release a version of Firefox for iOS.

Lukas Blakk, the new CEO, quoted Mozilla’s Vice President for Firefox Jonathan Nightingale on his Twitter account, saying, “We need to be where our users are so we’re going to get Firefox on iOS.”

In the past, Mozilla’s desire to release Firefox for iOS was curtailed by Apple’s restrictive browser policy. Versions of Chrome and Opera on iOS have been adapted to run on Apple’s own JavaScript and rendering engines, while Mozilla was unwilling to abandon its own browser infrastructure. Now, Mozilla appears more willing to compromise in order to widen its reach to potentially increase its market share.

Source: Techcrunch

Firefox Gets Free Integrated Video Chat Feature

The latest version of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, Firefox 34, comes with an integrated video chat feature, which is free and easy to use.

The feature is called Firefox Hello, and any Firefox 34 user can initiate a video chat, with no need to signup or download any extra plugins. Just press the button, share the link it gives, and video chat straight away. So long as one person is using Firefox, the other user only needs to use a WebRTC-compatible browser, such as Chrome or Opera.

Source: lifehacker

Google Chrome… A Battery Killer for Windows-based Laptops?

Forbes appears to have found a major flaw in Google’s popular browser, Google Chrome. It is said that the Chrome browser consumes more battery that Mozilla’s Firefox and even Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, significantly reducing the device’s battery life.

The main issue is said to be caused by the “system clock tick rate”, the feature responsible for waking up the CPU at certain times. Google Chrome is said to trigger the CPU’s ‘tick rate’ more often, drawing more power from the battery and reducing the overall battery life. Google’s browser is said to have a default timing of 1.000 ms, while Firefox and Internet Explorer is set at a Microsoft recommended setting of 15.625 ms.

“In fact, at 1.000ms the processor is waking 1000 times per second. The default, of 15.625ms means the processor wakes just 64 times per second to check on events that need attention. Microsoft itself says that tick rates of 1.000ms might increase power consumption by ‘as much as 25 per cent.'” said Forbes.

While the issue is present on Microsoft-based systems, it is said that the same cannot be said for Linux and Mac users. This is mainly due to the latter operating systems having different ‘tick rates’ compared to Microsoft’s OS. A web browser battery usage test reveals that Internet Explorer is still on top, followed by Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera.

Google apparently has no fix for the given issue at the moment, but users are able to go to Google Chrome’s bug report website and flag the issue in order to give it more priority.

Thank you Lifehacker for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Lifehacker

NSA Saga Is Boosting Business Of Small Internet Browser Companies

StatCounter’s latest figures reveal that “non top-5” browsers are growing in popularity. Currently the top 5 web browsers in order of market share according to StatCounter are Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera while the “other category” incorporates everything else. In May “other browsers” accounted for around 2.18% of the browser market but today they now account for 2.69% with an estimated 2.84% for September. At 2.69% that means a 23% increase in the number of people using a non-top-5 browser since May and at 2.84% that would be a 30% increase since May. If you also consider the number of internet users grows every month that means so far this year the number of small browser users has been growing exponentially.

Some of the “other” browser solutions that are popular and regularly updated include Maxthon, Avant, Dooble, Lunascape, SeaMonkey and many more. Of course many smaller browsers are in fact based on the infrastructure of bigger browsers but that hasn’t stopped people moving elsewhere in disgust against the cooperation of big browser companies in the NSA scandal.

Image courtesy of Downloads Junction

New Opera 15 Available And It Is Based on Chromium

Opera has been coming under increasing pressure in recent times and despite having around 300 million users it is easily dwarfed by bigger browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Yet the traditional saying goes “if you can’t beat them, join them”. Opera are doing exactly that and with Opera 15 they are using Google’s open source Chromium code to form their new browser. This essentially means it will be based off the same engine as Google’s Chrome browser as Opera ditch their previous “Presto” rendering engine in favourite of the WebKit supported Chromium solution.

Opera 15 does have a fair few features such as:

  • A newly designed UI
  • Discover feature – latest news/articles on categories/topics of your choosing
  • Revamped Speed Dial
  • Stash feature – store things to come back to
  • Off-Road mode – compressed web-surfing for low bandwidth conditions
  • Combined address and search bar
  • A new download manager

If you are a Opera user or feel like having a go at using Opera now it is essentially a Chrome alternative, then you can get the latest downloads here or you can visit here to learn more about Opera 15.

Images courtesy of Opera

Opera Gets Hacked, Expired Certificate Signing Code Stolen

According to Opera’s official blog they have recently halted and contained a targeted attack on the company’s internal network. Opera’s Sigbjørn Vik said that on June 19th an attack took place which didn’t compromise any user data but stole at least one old and expired Opera code signing certificate. Hackers can then use this signing certificate to sign malware which allows them to distribute it as appearing to be either the Opera browser itself or a program verified by Opera.

“This has allowed them to distribute malicious software which incorrectly appears to have been published by Opera Software, or appears to be the Opera browser” said Opera’s Sigbjørn Vik

Apparently Opera are working hard to try and fix the problem by introducing a new version of the Opera browser that uses a new code signing certificate. Any users who used Opera between 1:00 and 1:36 UTC on the day of the breach (June 19th) could have had malicious software installed onto their computer automatically without their knowing.

As if Opera wasn’t having a hard enough time already of tempting users over from the “big four” (IE, FireFox, Chrome and Safari) this latest incident is sure to make things even harder for them.

Image courtesy of Opera