Opera’s desktop web browser isn’t quite as successful as some of its mobile ventures have been in the past, but it’s a very capable browser nonetheless. The Oslo company has today released a new build for its developer stream, and it’s quite a significant one.
Opera today unveiled Project Reborn, an entirely new design for all platforms. That’s an important distinction – it’s a visual update more than anything, with the nuts and bolts underneath remaining the same as they were.
One of the first changes one might notice is the new design for tabs. Opera seems to have taken some inspiration from Microsoft’s Edge browser.
The tabs are flatter, and have an edge, for example. This isn’t necessarily good, though – since the new design is for all platforms, the tabs feel out of place on macOS. It’s more at home on Windows 10, however.
The Speed Dial has also received some improvements. It now features shadows and animations and some new default wallpapers. Speed Dial’s improvements are an evolution rather than a redesign, but it’s in the right direction.
Here’s one of the bigger changes: for the first time, Opera now has a dark theme. The dark theme changes all UI elements like buttons and the address bar to black or gray. It also dims the Speed Dial wallpaper to reduce the amount of light a bright wallpaper could put out.
Opera revealed the Neon browser last month as an amalgamation of new ideas. It’s an experiment that tries to imagine the web browser from a different perspective.
If you wish, you can read more about Opera Neon in our coverage from when it was announced. Coming back to today’s update, Opera has borrowed some ideas from the Neon experiment.
The Opera Sidebar now exists in the main browser window rather than the Speed Dial, much like how it is in Opera Neon.
It provides instant access to features like bookmarks, history, personal news, and extensions. It’s also entirely customizable, so you can put whatever you like in it. It’s enabled by default for new users, but existing users must enable it by flipping the switch in Speed Dial.
There is, however, one more thing that the Sidebar can do: open the Facebook Messenger. Once again, this feature is taking inspiration from the experimental Neon browser.
Opera is calling this a “side tab;” Facebook Messenger appears as an icon, clicking on it opens the Messenger in a window. It’s also possible to pin this side tab and use it side-by-side to the current tab.
Not only is this feature like Opera Neon, but it’s also like the Sidebar extensions that the current stable version of Opera already has. The Facebook Messenger is likely an extension for the Sidebar, but further refined with ideas from Opera Neon.
Opera’s developer stream is quite alike the Windows Insider Fast Ring – it’s unstable and is not recommended for use as daily drivers. These changes will appear in the stable release at some point in the future – perhaps a few months.
Opera has also built a new zero-click network installer; essentially, all it takes is double-clicking on the installer, and Opera handles everything from there.
The new installer is only available for the developer stream at the moment, but it will be rolled out to the stable release soon as well.