Opera has been making web browsers for desktop and mobile devices for years, and for most of that time the company’s been using its own Presto rendering engine. But now Opera has released its first Webkit-based browser.

Opera beta for Android is available for download from the Google Play Store.

Opera discover

Webkit is the same rendering engine used by Apple’s Safari browser, Google Chrome, and the default Android browser. It’s an open-source tool for rendering web pages, and by making the move to Webkit, Opera is hoping to free up resources to focus on other features including the look and feel of the browser, compression technology to speed up page loading speeds, and more.

Opera beta for Android should look familiar to anyone who’s used the company’s previous mobile browsers. It has the same Speed Dial start page which shows thumbnail icons for your favorite websites.

You can open multiple browser tabs and switch between tabs by hitting a button next to the location bar. And from the Opera settings button you can bring up a menu that lets you share, search, view downloads, and more.

Two other features that help set Opera apart from other browsers include a “Discover” page which shows recommended content from across the web in a magazine-style layout and “Off-Road Mode” which is supposed to optimize content for slow internet connections (but which can also cause some elements on a webpage to fail to load).

The new Opera beta browser is already pretty fast. While it uses the same rendering engine as the stock Android browser, I ran the SunSpider Javascript benchmark on a Ramos W42 tablet and Opera finished up in a speedy 990ms, while the stock Android 4.0 browser took 1621ms to finish the same test.

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One reply on “Opera releases Webkit-based browser for Android”

  1. Wow…didn’t they first announce they were going to do this a couple weeks ago? I’m sure they had already started the project when they made that announcement, but even so I give them serious props for turning this out so quickly.

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