We like online privacy. We dislike not being able to view content because it’s region locked. We like knowing the Wi-Fi connections we use are secure. We dislike being tracked by ad companies as we go about our business online. And vikings? Well, we really like vikings. All of which means we rather like Opera’s VPN app for Android that launched today.
A VP-whatnow, you ask? A VPN, as in virtual private network. Some people use them for work to ensure their connections are secure, others use them to get around pesky region restrictions — or give their privacy a boost — by making their phone, tablet or computer’s IP address look like it’s somewhere other than where it actually is.
VPNs aren’t anything new, but they tend to come with data limits or a monthly fee. Which is what makes Opera’s offering so tasty: it’s free, and offers unlimited use. And Opera’s other apps — which include a mobile browser that tries to reduce how much data you use — have served us well in the past, which bodes well for this new offering.
In addition to improving your online privacy, the app can block ad-tracking cookies, let you access geographically locked content, and check how secure a Wi-Fi network is before you connect to it. The Wi-Fi test tool checks if a network is public or private, if it’s encrypted, how many other devices share the same connection, if the IP address and the location are exposed, and if others can monitor or sniff your device’s details.
If the Wi-Fi test tool thinks the connection is a little suspect it’ll prompt you to enable the VPN. It’ll also give the connection a score from A+ to F. If it gets an F, you probably want to stick to your own mobile data.
For geographic block dodging, the app let users choose from five server locations: the US, Canada, Germany, Singapore and The Netherlands.
“The Opera VPN app for Android sets itself apart from other VPNs by offering a completely free service — without a data limit, no log-in required, advanced Wi-Fi protection features and no need for a subscription,” says Chris Houston, president of Surfeasy, Opera’s VPN division.
Apple users got their own version of the app back in May, and Opera says its since been downloaded by more than a million iOS users.
So, what’s with all the viking imagery? (Not that we’re complaining). “We’ve incorporated a Viking in the app, because Vikings didn’t care about borders, and they certainly wouldn’t be afraid of public Wi-Fi,” says Houston. “The Opera VPN app can unlock online borders and is the closest thing to a Viking shield that today’s mobile users have for virtual self-protection.”