OPERA HAS ANNOUNCED an app designed for Android users that have limited data plans.
Opera launched Opera Max this morning in the US, with a beta programme in Europe, and claims to reduce mobile data consumption by up to 50 percent.
Opera, which reached version 18 last year, has had an optional turbo feature for some time, but this dedicated mobile app represents an attempt to appeal specifically to the millions of users who access media-heavy websites but face big penalties for exceeding their data allowances.
The software also incorporates a virtual private network (VPN), so the compression is not limited just to web browser traffic, but rather works across all internet applications, data from which is sent via Opera's servers.
This doesn't include HTTPS encrypted traffic, which is excluded for privacy reasons.
Also included is a system to block roaming data on a per-app basis or restrict apps to WiFi only.
"As 'kings of compression', we think Opera Max is the next step in the evolution of this technology, which will intelligently compress data across apps, not just your browser," said Sergey Lossev, head of Product at Opera Max. "Try it out to see how much more you can get from your data plan."
Access to Opera Max is being rolled out in tranches on a first-come, first-served basis to people who have pre-registered. This applies to both the public US and European beta rollouts.
This is the second recent announcement from the Norwegian software company, following its unveiling last week of a web browser that provides free data access in return for watching sponsored advertising messages.
While Opera's market share is still significantly lower than the big three web browsers - Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer - it now boasts 248 million users and seems determined to position itself as a specialist in data-light internet access. µ