Opera may be the underdog of the browser world, but it continues to fight hard, adding interesting new features to try and win over users. The latest addition is a messaging sidebar built directly into the browser interface. From the sidebar, users can log into their WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram accounts, and chat with friends and family without ever leaving Opera itself.
This feature first appeared in the company’s experimental Neon browser, which was designed to test out Opera’s weirdest ideas. It’s now being ported over to the main browser as part of a visual refresh the company has dubbed “Reborn.” As well as the messaging sidebar, Opera Reborn debuts a redesigned UI, offering animated icons, colorful themes, and a dedicated dark mode. The browser includes other features Opera has added over the past year, including a built-in ad-blocking tool and access to a free, unlimited VPN.
But as with previous updates, there’s a lingering feeling that this new feature is a little bit too superficial. While it is nice to have access to chat apps in the browser window, their inclusion makes for a crowded interface. And while Opera says users are saving time by not having to switch from browser to chat windows, for most people, access to apps like WhatsApp are only ever an Alt-Tab away. Still, it’s another way Opera can differentiate itself from the competition, and perhaps get some new admirers in the process.