Opera releases first beta of new WebKit-powered Android browser

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Moving ahead with its plan to drop its own Presto rendering engine in favor of WebKit -- the same used by Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome -- Opera Software has released the first public version of its revamped mobile browser on Google Play. Besides packing a new rendering engine, the user interface has also been redesigned from the ground up, while some loved features from the desktop version are present as well.

The new version uses Android-native user interface elements but takes a few cues from Chrome as well, such as merging the URL and search bars into one. Opera's Speed Dial tab received a few tweaks as well, merging the concepts of quick links and bookmarks with the ability to group multiple items into a folder.

Other notable features include off-road mode -- a proxy-browser mode available in Opera Mini that uses server caching to save bandwidth -- a Discover tab that displays curated content from popular news sources, the ability to save pages for reading later even without a network connection, private browsing, pop-up blocking, a built-in download manager, and Opera Link for synchronizing bookmark and settings.

"There are countless hours that have gone into making this completely new, completely re-thought Opera for Android," says Opera Software EVP of product development Rikard Gillemyr. "I dare say that many smartphone users spend much more time using their web browser than any other app on their phones. That's why we have made our newest mobile phone browser more elegant and more beautiful than ever, while still packing so much functionality into it. Go ahead — take the Opera beta out for a spin on your Android phone and see for yourself."

To try out the new Opera browser for Android beta head over to our download section or visit www.opera.com on your mobile phone. Android devices with “phone-sized screens” from version 2.3 and up are supported.

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