Opera's Android browser leaves beta stage

With its official launch, the overhauled browser offers an interactive home screen that helps users discover content relevant to their interests.

Opera's browser.
Opera's browser. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Opera Software's new and improved Android browser has gone gold.

The company announced the news on Tuesday, saying that its browser for Android, which was available as beta software in the Google Play marketplace, is now complete and officially launched. Getting it out of beta means that Opera is confident that most of the bugs are gone and the software is ready for wide use.

Opera announced the initial browser overhaul in February at Mobile World Congress . Rather than base the software on its Presto engine, it decided instead to move to the open-source Blink engine used in Google Chrome, though this first version is still based on the WebKit project, upon which Apple's Safari is based and from which Blink was created.

Although Google Chrome for Android requires version 4.0 of the operating system (aka Ice Cream Sandwich), Opera works on older or less powerful phones running version 2.3 (aka Gingerbread). Mozilla has taken the same approach with its Firefox for Android.

In addition, Opera for Android comes with an all-new interface designed to spotlight content that might pique user interest. Marketed as a feature called Discover, the software automatically searches and compiles articles on the Web based on the user's expressed interests. Moreover, when slower networks threaten to impede smooth Web surfing, an Off-Road feature compresses data to boost the browser's speed.

Opera's Android browser came out on time. Earlier this year, the company said that users should expect the final version in the second quarter .

Opera's new browser is available for free in the Google Play marketplace.

Updated 3 p.m. PT to add that Opera works on older versions of Android and to clarify that Opera's browser is moving toward Blink, an offshoot of WebKit.

 

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