Opera may not have the most popular web browser in the world, holding a mere 4.0 percent market share, but this is not stopping the company from innovating. You can even say that maybe because of their humble position in the web browser race, the company needs to innovate.
If you can recall, the Norwegian browser company was acquired last year by a group of Chinese tech companies. Making somewhat of a splash with fresh and inventive ideas could win back a bit of the goodwill it may have lost during the move.
So in this current world of play-safe browsers from the big guns like Chrome and Firefox, who are more concerned about function and security, comes Opera's new experimental "concept" browser dubbed Opera Neon.
Opening up Neon for the first time is admittedly a jarring and confusing experience. Why? Instead of the usual search engine or browser home page, Neon's home page is a duplicate of your desktop wallpaper.
Yes, like a clever doppelgänger, it mimics your desktop background, replacing your files and shortcuts with bookmarks shaped like bubbles, side icons, and a transparent omnibox search bar. If you're not paying attention, it may even look like Neon has taken over your computer.
After the initial shock, you'll notice that Neon's home page is actually relatively clean. On the left side, you have five navigation icons - a "+" add tab, a pop-out video button, a screenshot icon, a gallery and a download manager icon.
As with Opera's regular browser, the pop-out video button is a convenient way to view a video on a smaller window while browsing other tabs. The built-in screenshot feature lets you save a portion or all of the webpage and view it via Neon's gallery. These are two of the Neon features I will probably use the most.
The right side icons simply show circular navigons of the tabs you have opened while the common browser tools like zoom level, new window, incognito mode, history and settings are hidden by three vertical stripes on the lower left side of Neon. Navigation wise, Neon's top bar is merely graced with the back, forward, refresh buttons and the URL.
Another useful feature in Neon that power users will surely like is its split screen mode. This feature lets you drag an open tab bubble to the existing browser window and split it between two tabs. Coupled with the pop-out video, this puts multi-tasking in a single browser on an entirely new level.
With all its great experimental features, Neon still lacks some of the main features that the regular Opera browser has. It doesn't have built-in VPN, extension support nor ad-blocking but for a "concept" product, it certainly has a ton of refreshing ideas amidst the crowd of cookie-cutter browsers we have today.
To download Opera Neon, click here to check out its official page.