Opera founder is back with a feature-packed new web browser
The former CEO of Opera has launched a new web browser, Vivaldi, that rebuffs the modern trend for minimalism. Whilst Google Chrome and Internet Explorer have shifted towards stripped-down browsers that do little more than display web pages, Vivaldi is something of a throwback, stuffing features into the browser.
Some of those features will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s followed Jon von Tetzchner’s work over the years at Opera. Von Tetzchner founded Opera in 1995, and provided much of the technical direction before he left the company in 2011. Features such as Speed Dial – a grid of thumbnails showing favourite pages – have been in Opera for many years, and Vivaldi will soon offer a mail client, which Opera stripped out of its browser in 2013.
There are some interesting new features, too. Vivaldi lets users make notes about the websites they’re visiting, also providing the option to attach a screenshot of the site to their notes, so they have something to refer to if the content of the page changes at a later date. Notes can be searched (with results filtered as you type) and organised into folders.
Vivaldi also allows users to create “tab stacks”, a variation on a concept introduced to Firefox a couple of years ago. Designed to prevent the browser becoming clogged with open tabs, users can drag tabs over one another to create groups. When you hover the mouse over the “stack”, thumbnails appear showing all the different tabs within that group, allowing you to select the site you want to move to.
For those who like their keyboard shortcuts, Vivaldi includes Quick Commands that allow you to, say, quickly open the Notes panel, focus the address field or toggle through open tabs. Vivaldi says it “aims to make the Quick Command menu highly customisable, allowing you to make your own commands and run them quickly”, although that doesn’t appear to be an option in the Technical Preview that’s available now.
Other quirky features include the ability to transform the appearance of a website. The Page Actions button in the bottom right corner allows you to apply a series of Instagram-like filters to the web page, making it appear in greyscale, inverting the colours, or rotating the page into an angled “3D view”, amongst other options. It’s hard to think of any practical applications for such a feature, but it’s a fun toy to play with, if nothing else.
Vivaldi promises to deliver many more features in the coming months, including synchronisation of browser history and passwords, extensions and “spatial navigation” – a feature that will allow you to browse purely using your keyboard, apparently.
Whilst Vivaldi looks unlikely to dent the market share of Chrome or Internet Explorer any time soon, it certainly gives the techies who may have perservered with Opera or other niche browsers something new to get their teeth into.
Vivaldi is available for free download now for Windows, Mac and Linux.