Opera finds a niche on bigger Android tablets

The mobile browser's latest Android update offers a friendly layout and design that aims to take advantage of the full screen on larger tablets.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Opera for Android.
Opera for Android. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Android tablet users should take the latest version of Opera for a spin around the Web.

Launched Wednesday at the Google Play store, Opera for Android version 18 has been spruced up to take advantage of the full screen of larger tablets. The icons and menus are positioned so as to allow easy access whether holding your tablet in portrait or landscape mode. Opera's goal was to not scale up the smartphone layout or scale down the desktop layout but to design an interface ideal for tablets.

"We poured a great deal of thought into the Opera for Android tablet version," Johan Schön, Opera's senior VP for mobile consumer browsers, said in a blog posted Wednesday. "The size of devices and mindset of users make the tablet very different from its smaller cousin, the smartphone, and we have to respect that. In Opera 18 for Android, we have spent hours and hours tweaking, and fiddling with the placement of, even the most minute detail, just to get that top tablet feel."

Other helpful features abound in Opera for Android.

An off-road mode compresses the data streaming to your device, promising quick performance even in the midst of heavy network or Wi-Fi traffic. Speed Dial, a feature already known to Opera users, displays a menu of large buttons on your tablet to help you organize your most frequently-visited Web sites. And a Discover feature recommends Web sites based on your interests.

Opera may not be as hot as Google Chrome or Firefox among Android users, but the people at Opera continue to innovate and enhance the mobile browser. The latest version is definitely worth a download.