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First Opera WebKit browser released

Opera has released its first browser that uses the WebKit browser engine.

In a press release, the company added that it had “rethought, redesigned and rebuilt the browser experience into a thing of beauty”. An Opera News article elaborated further, discussing new features such as improved tabs and Speed Dial, an ‘off road’ mode that compresses web pages on slow connections, a better download manager and a customisable address bar.

Insight on the new browser engine was left to Andreas Bovens, group leader developer relations for Opera Software. In the post 'Opera 14 for Android is out!', he confirmed the new release was “built on top of Chromium 26, with a total overhaul of the UI in native code", and added that it supported Android 2.3 and higher, which was important because “38.5 per cent of Android users are still on Gingerbread”.

.net reported in February on Opera’s plans to switch from its own Presto browser engine to WebKit, but also its decision to utilise the Google-led Blink engine. Bovens said that this was still going to happen: “Opera 14 is based on Chromium 26, which doesn't include Blink just yet. However, as we plan to stay closely in sync with the Chromium development cycle, doing frequent updates, you can expect it in a future release. In the meantime, we've added/enabled some extra standardsy goodness already for you to use.”

Said extras include <input type="color" />, WebGL 3D context being enabled and CSS3 @supports, along with a “cool” way of handling HTML5 audio: “If you start playing, […] you'll see that a pause button appears in the Android notification area. You can now switch tabs, or even open other apps while [the audio] is playing, and easily control playback from the notification area.”