The Chromium-Powered Opera Is Finally Here

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Opera made a big stink a few months ago when it was announced it was ditching its own Presto Web rendering engine in favor of Webkit. After Google announced it was ditching Webkit in favor of its own forked version called Blink, Opera followed suit saying it would be using Blink as well. Now the Blink-powered Opera is finally here.

Opera Software announced today that it has launched what it's calling Opera Next. You can think of it as a beta release, but this is the version of Opera that everybody's been talking about. It's a completely redesigned Opera that's faster and more feature rich.

Finally available on desktop, Opera Next comes with a number of new or rethought features. For instance, the shortcuts start page has been transformed into what Opera calls "Speed Dial:"

Speed Dial shortcuts can now be gathered in folders and easily filtered. Drag and drop one Speed Dial entry on top of another to create a folder, or use the new Speed Dial search field to experience the power of visual Speed Dial entries combined with the flexibility and organization of a classic bookmark folder.

Another two new features are called Discover and Stash. With Discover, think of it as a smart RSS feed built right into the browser. It will collect news articles from your country of origin and feed you the content without having to navigate to any particular Web site.

As for Stash, this feature allows users to easily compare Web sites when shopping online:

Simply hit the heart icon in the address bar to collect the websites you want to compare easily while shopping, or to keep your travel research on hotels, sights and flights at your fingertips. Scan your Stash by resizable page preview, or search what you've saved, with keywords.

On top of all the new features, Opera's UI has been completely redesigned from the grou up to look "modern and sleek."

Of course, the biggest change is the move to the Webkit/Blink Web rendering engine:

With the Chromium engine, users get a standards-compliant and high-performance browser. Opera’s Off-Road mode, previously called Opera Turbo, now supports SPDY protocol and enables loading webpages faster, even in the toughest of network conditions.

The new Chromium-powered Opera is available for both desktop and mobile. You can grab Opera 15 for desktop here and Opera 14 for Android here. It may be hard to let Presto go, but a faster, standard-compliant Opera can only be a good thing, right?

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