Opera has released a completely different take on the desktop browser with Neon, a so-called ‘concept browser’ that eschews tabs for bubble icons and pop-out videos.
Opera is once again taking a crack at shaking up the browser market. After introducing a free VPN and ad-blocker to its desktop browser last year, its latest effort is Neon, an experimental browser for Mac and Windows desktops.
Neon doesn’t replace the Opera desktop browser but it will be where the company tests new ideas before bringing them to the standard Opera browser.
The aim is to showcase Opera’s long-term vision for the browser in a world where many young people experience smartphones before a desktop, convertibles converge with mobile, and smartphones can stand in for a PC when connected to larger Display.
With this in mind, Krystian Kolondra, head of Opera browser, argues it’s time to rethink the browser for these devices and users to show what the browser could be in five years.
Neon uses the current desktop’s background image as its main interface, featuring a large Google search box above icons for favorite websites. As with the standard Opera browser, Neon is also built on Google’s Blink engine.
A panel on the left of the interface contains buttons for a video player, download manager, image gallery, and a screenshot tool. Neon also features a split-screen mode, and a pop-out video feature that works fine for YouTube. The pop-out video was first introduced in a desktop beta last year.
One of the most obvious differences between Neon and other desktop browsers is its apparent lack of tabs and shift towards app-like icons. It does actually feature tabs, but they’re displayed as icons in a column on right-hand side of the screen, which expand when clicked on.
Also, the idea behind the bubbles is that they are more friendly to touchscreens. The Windows version of Neon supports touch for the growing number of Windows 10 convertibles available today.
While it’s unlikely Neon will replace anyone’s primary browser, it does offer a refreshing take on what the desktop browser could be. And, being a concept browser, it can’t be considered a failure if adoption remains low, while also offering Opera an avenue to test the appeal of various features.