NORDIC BROWSER COMPANY Opera has announced a new version of Opera Max, its data compression tool for mobile that is designed to reduce customers' data usage for intensive tasks like music streaming.
Up to now Opera Max has specialised in compressing web pages and photos to help people avoid maxing out their data plans.
The service is said to reduce music streaming costs by up to 50 percent on YouTube music, Pandora, Slacker, Gaana and Saavn.
"More and more people love listening to their favorite music with apps; however, these apps are among the major data hogs consuming users’ mobile data quickly," says Sergey Lossev, product manager at Opera Software.
"Now, we have added audio compression for these music apps so that people will feel free to stream music without having to look constantly for available, free WiFi coverage. This is particularly helpful for users with limited data plans."
Neither Spotify or Google Play Music, the two biggest players in the Android music streaming market, or Deezer, a European service that is gaining traction, are currently supported, however.
The secret sauce to this new edition is Rocket Optimiser, which was part of the package when Opera acquired optimised browser Skyfire back in 2013.
It works by intercepting MP3 and MP4 streams and transcoding them into the more effective AAC+ format.
New services will be added to the mix but each one is undergoing rigorous quality control before the switch is flicked.
Opera Max also offers video stream compression to Android customers and some manufacturers have taken to pre-installing the compressor on low-end phones whose customers are likely to be more budget-conscious.
Since Opera aligned itself with the Chromium Project in version 33, it has increasingly focused on becoming a data-maxing alternative to Google's main Chrome browser.
Although it only holds a tiny market share in relation to Microsoft and Google, Opera has a loyal following, and can also be found embedded in smart devices such as the Wii Console and Sony Bravia TVs. Opera is also a heavy advocate of user privacy, calling it a "universal right", and includes a VPN to minimise the risk of being snooped on.
Opera Max is available for Android from the Google Play Store. µ
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