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 The COVID-19 outbreak has forced countries and citizens across the globe to adapt to a new way of life of social distancing, limited numbers during gatherings, a new-found appreciation for hand sanitisers and more recently a life behind closed doors, after the introduction of a 21-day lockdown period in South Africa.

This last measure will see more and more people rely heavily on the web to work remotely, as well as to keep themselves informed, entertained and connected to the world. However, this country-wide increased use of the internet can result in slower-than-usual network connections.

Today, Opera, the mobile phone and PC web browser developer, announced new improvements to its flagship Android browser (Opera for Android) which, along with existing features such as the popular built-in ad blocker, can help make life easier for South Africans by providing people with smoother browsing even on congested and therefore slower network connections.

Limit your data usage to browse smoothly

Opera for Android comes with a very useful data savings feature. The increased internet traffic can often result in network connections running under stressful conditions, which can result in slower connectivity as a result of the sheer volume of users. The European Commission has successfully urged Netflix and other streaming services to switch from HD streaming to SD in times of peak demand as more and more people are forced to stay at home.

Opera allows users to limit their network bandwidth use by switching on data-saving mode in their settings. This allows them to load pages more easily and quickly while using less data. To let users monitor their data savings, Opera has now placed a data savings badge on the left of the address bar, where everyone can see how much data has been saved as well as switch it off if the need arises. The badge appears once data-savings mode has been switched on in settings, and will stick around for as long as data savings are enabled, or until the next browsing session.

“Since last year, we’ve introduced more than 100 improvements to our Android browser, making it the most powerful browser one can choose to install on an Android device. We are now making it more convenient to use our data savings feature to allow users to speed up their browsing and save even more of their data,” said Stefan Stjernelund, product manager of Opera for Android. “Opera’s Android browser is a powerhouse, which offers a set of unique, built-in features – including an ad blocker, a built-in VPN and a crypto wallet.”

To speed up browsing on congested networks, Opera recommends switching on the ad blocking function, which effectively speeds up page loading times. Opera’s ad blocker is publisher-friendly, allowing people to bypass it on their favourite websites and therefore support content creators.

“You can use these features to limit your bandwidth usage: either because you would like to smoothen your browsing or to simply leave more network bandwidth for others,” added Stjernelund.

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Improved offline pages

Working in the digital age requires users to stay connected all the time, which makes the need to disconnect and switch mobile phones to airplane mode a vital habit that can help people recharge, relax and also save on mobile data.

Opera’s updated Android browser allows users to do just that. The browser is introducing an improved offline pages experience, which allows users to save any website for offline reading. This means the offline pages section can become a collection of articles or websites users can engage with distraction-free in airplane mode. It’s also a feature which will become handy once air travel is possible again.

Android users now also have the option to customise the storage location for their offline pages. This means no more storage issues for those whose internal storage is full, but who have plenty of space on an external card. Having access to the physical file location also means that they can move offline pages freely between devices with simple file operations.

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Quicker Speed Dial access

A long time ago, Opera pioneered the concept of Speed Dials, giving everyone faster access to their favourite pages. When studying user patterns, Opera developers noticed that users still gravitate towards using the address bar when they are not on the start page and often type more than they need to reach their frequently visited sites. With this version of its Android browser, Opera is introducing autocompletion for Speed Dials, meaning that once users start typing a word that matches the URL or title of their Speed Dial item, it will be autocompleted directly in the address bar, enabling them to simply tap go, without having to explicitly pick a suggestion from the drop-down list.

Easy crypto purchases around the world

The newest Opera for Android release also includes some updates to the browser’s native crypto wallet, dApp explorer and Web 3 browsing capabilities. Since December 2018, Opera has been the only truly blockchain-ready web browser.

After having introduced the feature in its native Scandinavia and later in the US, Opera now allows for easy crypto wallet top-ups around the world.

Opera now also supports IPFS, decentralised “cloudless storage” and .crypto domain addresses through a partnership with Unstoppable domains, which allows for the easy naming of crypto wallet addresses. For more on the updates to Opera’s Crypto Wallet.

Less than six weeks ago, Opera for Android introduced an improved reader mode, which has been well-received by its millions of users around the world. Moreover, Opera for Android has also added more than 100 features, both big and small, making it the most powerful browser available in app stores today. These features include a free and unlimited VPN (Virtual private network), an improved ad blocker, a cookie dialogue blocker and an integrated crypto wallet that allows users to access Web 3 as well as conduct transactions with the most popular cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and TRON.

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The browser of choice for people looking to stay connected without breaking the data bank

The Opera browser for Android is a leading browser and is chosen by millions of people worldwide who prefer Opera over their more simple default browsers. In the last half of 2019, the browser increased its monthly active user base by 40% globally year-over-year. The Opera browser for Android has also registered more than three million reviews in Google Play with people giving it an average 4.6-star rating.