A couple of months ago we told you all about Opera’s futuristic concept browser, Neon. Instead of the standard tabs-on-the-top layout, Neon embraced a more freeform, floating bubbles type approach to tab management. There was a sidebar on the left and circular tabs on the right. Instead of tabs, there were panels that you swiped between.
In Opera’s latest Reborn update (45), Opera has tried to integrate some of those features right in the Opera browser. You’ll now get docked sidebar, with panels for messaging services, sharper graphics, and more.
I’ve always thought of Opera as a great secondary browser, especially for people who use Safari as their default browsers on Mac. Opera has a built-in free VPN feature, the ability to run Chrome extensions, plus it’s not as much of a memory hog as Chrome. Naturally, for a while now, Opera has been trying to claw its way from being a secondary browser to being a primary one. And they’re one of the few major players in this field that are truly experimenting and innovating, at a breakneck pace.
The Docked Sidebar
Opera always had a sidebar, but it was only available on the Speed Dial page. Now, there’s a dark sidebar docked on the side, always. This way, you’ll always have access to your history, news, preferences, extensions and more. Don’t worry, there’s a button at the bottom to unpin it so it goes back to the Speed Dial.
New Messaging Panels
The highlight of the new, pinned sidebar is integration with messaging services. You’ll find buttons for Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Telegram right there. One of the biggest things in this new update is how seamlessly you can switch between talking to your friends and browsing the web.
The messaging panels work in two ways, as a pinned panel, or a floating panel. When it’s floating and you click on the Messenger icon, the panel will show up on top of the current page. But if you pin it using the pin icon, it will now be docked to the left side of the page you’re currently now. Now you can resize the panel. Click on the Messenger icon to hide it again, or click on another messaging icon to switch to that service.
Everything is Sharper
One of the starkest things about the new update is just how much sharper and better-looking everything is. The interface elements and buttons have been updated to be high-res. Plus there are new wallpaper options for the Speed Dial that look really good. Especially on the Retina display, the tabs and buttons no longer look washed out.
Oh and there’s also a cool new dark mode.
Opera is Evolving
Other than that, this update also includes more control over ad blocking and security.
It’s great to see that Opera is actually integrating elements from its concept browser right into the mainstream one. Of course, it’s not as far-fetched. That is also a great thing. You won’t need to rewrite your muscle memory to adapt to a different tab management style. But I do hope that Opera finds more, better uses of its sidebar and the new dockable panels. Right now, the news and bookmarks features still aren’t integrated as panels.
Do you use Opera as your primary or secondary browser? Do you like it? Do you think the Reborn update is enough to get you to ditch Safari or Chrome for Opera? Share with us in the comments below.
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