Opera is going all out to remain relevant in a browser landscape dominated by Chrome, Safari, Firefox and, to a lesser extent, the Microsoft Edge. For this purpose, it just announced a new product called Neon that the company is touting as the future of web browsing.
Opera Concept Browser
At this point, Opera Neon is still a concept browser but it is already available for download.
Just a quick note: the idea of a concept browser is a bit new so we still do not know if it is different from a developer or a beta build.
Upon trying Neon, the very first thing that will probably pop in your mind is that it is verging toward becoming an operating system. This is at least the case if only for the fact that it somehow channels a ChromeOS vibe.
When you open the app, you are not greeted by a browser window but a panel with little bubbles that seem to work as desktop icons. If you click one of these, a new window will open inside, complete with its own URL box.
While you cannot move it around at this point, you can still toggle it so it will work side by side other windows and this is not unlike what one would find in Android Nougat's multi-window feature.
Neon even uses your desktop wallpaper as its background while the Google Search box is seemingly embedded in it.
Some observers have said that Opera has eliminated the tab functionality. However, the company seemed to have merely implemented a different approach to it. The tabs now are presented as round icons on the right side of the screen. They still function like tabs: clicking one will open the corresponding window and there is also the ability to close the window through the X indicator.
On the left panel, there is also a persistent set of icons or what one can call apps that can be used to toggle functions such those relating to playback of media content as well as a dedicated gallery of snapped websites, among others.
Drawbacks And Potential
While the graphics and the style are refreshing, Neon might not be as effective in computers with smaller screens. Conventional browsers conserve space with the minimal footprint of their tabs but Neon has used icons on both sides of the screen, including the gaps that they occupy.
These icons tend to clutter the desktop, especially if you consider the Windows task bar as well.
There is also the case of usability as the experience is a bit roundabout. For instance, if you want to close a window, you would not find any mechanism to do so in the window itself. You will have to go to its icon and click the X indicator.
Overall, Neon has a lot of potential and it is quite ambitious to boot. It will not be surprising if Opera found itself competing with ChromeOS in the future or even Windows since it is, in effect, overlaying the entire desktop with its own little ecosystem that threatens to keep the attention of the user to itself.
You can download Opera Neon here. Let us know what you think of it in the comments section below!