The phantom of the Opera is here... unveil R5 (just don't let the boss see)

She's sitting in a floating popout window for video calls while you get on with your life


Browser veteran Opera has taken a break from selling fintech to issue an update codenamed "R5" to its desktop browser - complete with consumer-friendly music streaming and video-calling features.

The update from the Oslo-based biz includes messaging features, while video-calling tweaks are aimed at keeping Opera users inside the browser, rather than wandering off to use Chrome or Edge.

A pop-out component in the new browser will "pop" video out of a given tab and keep it on top of all other tabs: handy for users having a crafty browse during those interminable Zoom and Google Meet sessions. Or, as Opera delicately put it, users sometimes get "distracted" and then struggle to find the right tab. A red bar is also placed on the active tab for ease of navigation along with tab-searching for the tab-hoarders among its users.

Opera said the feature works with Google Meet, Zoom and Microsoft Teams and the floating video window can be made transparent, presumably to prevent extra distraction during a particularly tedious call.

The move is the latest in Opera's efforts to keep eyeballs (and clicks) firmly within its window. It is joined by additional controls in its Player feature (which adds the likes of Deezer, Tidal and Soundcloud to the Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube already supported.) Chat platforms are already supported, and users can waffle away using tools such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram without straying from the big, red O.

Finally, in what the Microsoft Edge team will likely take as the highest form of flattery, Opera has also added a "Pinboards" feature in this release to collect websites, links and notes for sharing over devices and users.

Opera laid claim to "hundreds of millions of monthly engaged users" over its range of products, including browser and the inevitable fintech applications. Its share of the browser market from a worldwide perspective can hardly be described as stellar. Opera has, however, enjoyed some success in Africa, according to Statcounter, moving into double digits behind Safari and the mighty Chrome.

While R5 is a neat release of the Chromium-based browser, overall there is little in it to make users of other platforms jump ship. Still, with Internet Explorer usage continuing to dwindle, its top five spot (on the desktop at least) is set to continue for a while longer. ®

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