Opera is back with another experimental browser, the Neon, based on the same engine as the original Opera browser
The most innovative browser I have seen in recent times is one made for the tablet, called Coast by Opera. Now, Opera is back with another experimental browser—the Neon. Browsers haven’t changed much in the two-odd decades that the internet has been part of our lives. But this one is a completely different take on how we use browsers, taking off from how they are used these days. I decided to use the Neon as my primary access to the web for a few hours and this is what I felt.
The design is radical, at least when it comes to browsers. The browser is transparent and your desktop shows through. You open up to see top websites—initially these are sites Opera wants to promote—showing up as bubbles on the page. Click open one of them, or open a new website using the simple address bar, and the bubble shifts to the the left bar and the page opens in the rest of the browser. There are no tabs and the right bar shows you which pages are open.
The right bar shows browser features like tabs that are playing music or video—these pages can be left open in the background—quick option to take screenshots, another button for saved screenshots and one for downloads. At the bottom you have a settings menu which is very similar to what you would find on Opera or Chrome.
What is good?
The Neon browser actually has less real estate than other browsers, but it gives the feeling that it is offering more space for content. Anyway, it does make it easier to access content, like the different tabs for music or video that is playing in the background. Other browsers too can play music in the background, but none make it this easy to go back to what you were listening too.
We are all used to tabs and people like me are slaves to dozens of them by the end of the day. From that perspective I think Neon is much more user friendly in comparison to traditional browsers. Also, in one glance you get a good idea of what is open, if there are any new notifications on those pages.
What is not good?
This is a concept browser and not really stable. In one day there were two occasions when the browser crashed. If you are one of those used to browser extensions, then Neon could pose issues as it does not support any at the moment. Also, if you are planning to switch from Opera, then certain features, like discover that lets you read from multiple sources, are not in yet.
Neon is without a doubt a bold move; one that incorporates out of the box thinking. However, it does not have enough now to get power users to cross over. It might, however, find favour with those who like to read and browse a lot.