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article imageOpera unveils 'reborn' browser with built-in chat features

By James Walker     May 10, 2017 in Technology
Opera has launched a substantial update for its desktop web browser. The release ushers in a new design language and built-in integration with messaging services. You can chat with your contacts using new messaging panes that show up in the sidebar.
The update is the most significant overhaul of Opera in some time. The company has refreshed its browser with a more modern and flattened design, bringing it up to date with the competition. Opera said the interface has been "Reborn," the name of its extensive project to redesign the entire UI.
Reborn UI
The new look was first introduced back in February with the release of Opera's experimental "Neon" browser. It has now been polished for use as part of the regular version of Opera, although the work is still ongoing. At launch, the project brings a revised interface with a new colour palette and the choice of a light or dark menu bar theme.
Opera 45
Opera 45
Across the browser, the layout has been updated to use new high-resolution graphics that closer match each other across devices and platforms. Animation plays a key role, giving the interface an "alive and playful" look. Opera is also debuting new iconography that's visually distinctive and better optimised for a range of screen sizes.
Integrated chat
Aside from Reborn, the update's headline feature is the debut of in-browser messaging agents. Opera noted that many people keep a browser tab open to their favourite messaging service throughout the day. This is difficult to monitor and switch back to though, causing you to lose focus in the tab you're working with.
Opera 45
Opera 45
Opera now includes messaging capabilities by default. Instead of having to install third-party extensions or apps, you'll be able to communicate within the browser using Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Telegram as soon as it's installed. Called "communicators," the chat integrations appear in Opera's sidebar and overlay on the side of the page when clicked.
If you're sustaining a conversation while browsing, you can also pin a communicator to the side of the display. This will dock it alongside the active tab. In this mode, communicators offer no more functionality than simply opening a messaging app and using it side-by-side with the browser. Opera suggests you won't need to clutter your device with downloads though, instead using communicators to streamline your online presence.
Ad block, performance and updated engine
Aside from the major additions, Opera has also tweaked several existing areas of its browser. The built-in ad blocker has been refined to give you more control over blacklists and whitelists. Oddly, Opera automatically whitelists Facebook, Google, Yandex and Baidu. After facing questioning from users, the company told Ars Technica the sites "offer a good experience to users with ads on."
Opera 45
Opera 45
Opera has been extensively tweaked under the hood in preparation for the new release. Notably, video decoding is now faster and less battery intensive, enabling longer watch sessions at higher qualities. The usual round of security, performance and browser engine upgrades are also present.
Opera 45 is available to download now on Windows, macOS and Linux desktops. It's a milestone release for the browser that modernises it and adds unique features. As Opera fights to retain its place in the browser market, the latest version of the software gives users new reasons to stay with the company's offering.
More about Opera, Browser, Web browsers, opera reborn
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