The latest version of Opera is called "Reborn" and it aims to rethink the browser, adding a special new sidebar for messaging.
The new sidebar has baked-in shortcuts for WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram, allowing users to handle messages quickly and easily without having to open a separate tab or leave their current tab.
The messaging sidebar is built right into the browser interface and once users log in to their accounts, messaging becomes far more accessible. The feature initially debuted in Opera's Neon browser experiment, which aimed to test the company's oddest concepts and see what works.
Opera Messaging Sidebar
It seems the messaging sidebar was successful enough on Neon to make it to the main browser, and it's now the highlight of the latest Reborn version of the Opera browser.
Opera points out that social messengers have proved to be game changers in terms of communication, yet they don't focus enough on multitasking.
"Browsing and chatting simultaneously is cumbersome and inefficient now, as you need to switch between tabs when responding to a message. We believe this needs to change," says Opera. "That's why we bring you Opera Reborn, the first browser to allow messengers to reside within your browser, without the need to install any extensions or apps."
The sidebar will automatically hide by default once users click out of it, but one can also choose to pin the sidebar and have it work side-by-side with any webpage.
To change what you want pinned to the sidebar, you can just go to the browser's Settings > Basic and scroll down to the "Sidebar" section, where you'll see a "Manage sidebar" option. From there, simply check or uncheck the box next to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and the other options.
Opera Dark Mode And Other Reborn Features
In addition to this neat new sidebar, Opera Reborn also sports a redesigned user interface with a visual refresh, bringing colorful themes, animated icons, and a cool new dark mode, which can be enabled from Settings > Browser > User Interface.
Opera Reborn also comes with other popular features that Opera introduced over the past year, including the free, unlimited VPN and the built-in ad blocker. As Ars Technica points out, Opera's ad-blocking tool automatically whitelists four sites: Facebook, Google, Baidu, and Yandex. Aside from Facebook, the other whitelisted sites are all search engines, which may have something to do with the fact that opera draws a good portion of its revenue from offering search engine boxes on its new tab page.
Asked to justify its decision to whitelist these four particular sites, an Opera spokesperson explained to Ars Technica that none of them paid to be whitelisted, but Opera chose to do so "because they offer a good experience to users with ads on." The spokesperson added that it does draw revenue from having a Google or Yandex search box on the new tab page, but made no mention of Baidu.
Lastly, Opera Reborn also comes with some security and performance improvements designed to enhance the overall experience. For instance, Opera Reborn users will get notifications if they're typing in sensitive information such as a credit card number or a password into a page that's not HTTPS secured. The latest browser version also sends more videos to the GPU for decoding on Windows, which will reportedly yield notably higher frame rates and resolutions, as well as lower battery usage.
Opera Reborn (version 45) is now available for download for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. To get a better idea of what it has to offer, check out the video below.