The makers of the Opera web browser launched a service called Opera Max last year, enabling Android users to cut their mobile bandwidth usage. It does that by routing your internet traffic through a remote server which compresses data before sending it to your phone.
At launch Opera Max was able to reduce file sizes for images, text, and some video. A few months ago the company added support for Netflix and YouTube data compression. And now Opera says it can also cut the amount of data used by some streaming music services in half.
In other words, you can basically listen to twice as much music before you hit your mobile network’s data cap.
To put it another way, Opera says that if you stream 9 hours of music from supported services, you’ll use about 1GB of data. If you do the same thing with Opera Max, you’ll use closer to 500MB.
How does that work? Basically Opera Max will convert any MP3 or MP4 audio streams it finds to AAC+ audio streams. Since that format can offer the same sound quality at lower bit rates, it saves data.
There are a few catches: converting audio from one lossy format to another could add some digital noise, which means that the sound won’t be quite as good as it would be if Opera Max were converting a higher-quality audio stream to AAC+ on the fly.
Second, that means that you won’t get much benefit when using Opera Max to stream music from services already using AAC+. Opera doesn’t provide a complete list of supported music streaming services, but the company does specifically say that Pandora, Slacker, and YouTube Music should work.
Still, if you’re a heavy music streamer that regularly hits your monthly data cap, there’s one more reason to at least give Opera Max a try. The app is available as a free download from the Google Play Store.