Opera has unveiled a new look and feel for its browser. Expected to ship in version 59 and codenamed “Reborn 3” (R3), the new appearance adopts the same square edges and clean lines that we’ve seen in other browsers, giving the browser a passing similarity to both Firefox and Edge.
The principles of the new design? “We put Web content at center stage,” the Opera team writes on its blog.
Being Web-centric is not a bad principle for an application such as a browser, where the bulk of the functionality and interest comes from the pages we’re viewing rather than the browser itself. At first blush, I think that Opera has come up with something that looks good, but it does feel like an awfully familiar design rationale.
After all, Google’s Chrome—named Chrome in part because “chrome” is used to refer to the parts of the browser window that aren’t the webpage—had a design philosophy of “content, not chrome.” That browser was designed deliberately to minimize “browser user interface” and put the focus on the content. Last year’s redesign maintained this concept, removing borders and dividing lines to further de-emphasize the browser’s chrome and put focus where it should be: the content.
Firefox’s Photon redesign was motivated by a desire to be fast, but it’s similarly unobtrusive, with little ornamentation to the browser itself. Microsoft’s Edge likewise: square tabs, clean lines, minimal ornamentation.
Opera plans to ship the R3 release in March, and a developer preview can be downloaded today to give the new appearance a spin. The new design isn’t the only notable feature of R3; it also integrates a crypto wallet for Ethereum transactions. In conjunction with Opera on your phone, this feature can be used to securely make online payments to sites using Coinbase Commerce for their payment processing.