Stuff loves Opera. More specifically, Opera GX. That means our minds are pretty much open to anything the company throws our direction in the way of browsers. That extends to its latest browser; Opera One – a new, early-access browser that’s got a fresh look and is designed to eventually replace the standard Opera browser some time in the coming year.
You’re the One, Neo
Opera has said that the revamped, clean look and wide-open sidebars are meant for a “generative AI-based future” though it didn’t really explain what that means. There’s also a new ‘Multithread Compositor’ and design elements that introduce what Opera calls ‘Tab Islands’, a simpler way to group tabs and switch between workspaces.
Tab Islands are essentially just groups for your tabs, made distinct from one another by the vertically-coloured pills that collapse and expand a group at the click of your mouse. What makes Tab Islands stand out is their ability to automatically group tabs based on context. Say you’ve got a bunch of restaurant menus open, or even better, several Stuff tabs open – Opera will automatically assign them to their own Tab Island.
That Multithread Compositor we mentioned is what allows the browser to keep things flowing more smoothly than usual. The Norwegian browser claims that it’s the “first among the major Chromium-based browsers to introduce.” It helps the browser render more complicated web animations through your PC’s GPU. We noticed a definite delay when scrolling around websites the first time we opened One, though that went away the second we turned on the ad-blocker. We can’t be sure that the two are connected, but is it worth the risk?
One’s biggest feature is AI functionality which isn’t fully shown off in the available developer preview. That doesn’t mean it’s not there at all. Both ChatGPT and WriteSonic/ChatSonic are turned on by default, though their capabilities are little different from the AI features introduced into the standard browser back in March.
Opera hasn’t said when the browser would be getting the promised AI features, though it’s implied that they’ll be ready by the time Opera One is ready to take over. The company also teased the launch of its own AI engine but failed to give any more information. We’ll just have to wait like the rest of the world for more updates.
Just not for us
We tried out Opera One for the duration of writing this article and… we have some thoughts. As GX users, we were expecting a lot from One. We weren’t disappointed. Tab Islands – the main feature here – worked exactly as the tin said they would.
Navigating webpages felt smooth on our MacBook Pro, though we didn’t notice any major differences between One and GX. It’s possible that One’s Multithread Compositor is more apparent on weaker devices, though we have no way of confirming this until we get our hands on a slower machine. That’s… surprisingly hard to do.
Despite being labelled as a ‘developer preview’, anyone can download One’s early access version. We won’t be making the switch from GX to One just yet (we personally prefer the deeper levels of customisation), though once Opera’s own AI engine is added, that decision may be way harder.