With this latest update, Opera Max now also works with music-streaming apps such as YouTube Music, Pandora, and Slacker Radio, as well as Gaana and Saavn, for those in India. This news comes just a few months after Opera introduced support for YouTube and Netflix video-streaming.
Founded as a research project by one of Norway’s biggest telecom companies in 1994, Opera was spun out into a standalone entity in 1995 and has emerged as a popular cross-platform browser. The main Opera browser is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, while there are various mobile incarnations that work across Android, Windows Phone, iOS, BlackBerry, and more. Today, the company claims around 300 million users on mobile and 55 million on desktop.
First launched in February, 2014, Opera Max is designed to get its users more bang from their data plan. The app essentially compresses data, including videos, photos, and other media within native Android apps and mobile websites, and promises no “noticeable loss of quality.” Opera Max can also block apps that run in the background, thereby conserving battery and data.
Opera Max uses Opera’s own Rocket Optimizer technology, and it supports both MP3 and MP4 audio formats. It can also convert streams to the AAC+ codec, enabling it to maintain a higher degree of sound quality when on a slower connection.
For those already on an unlimited mobile data plan, Opera Max may not be a hugely appealing proposition. But for anyone who is constantly monitoring data-usage, Opera Max promises to save up to 50 percent of data.
Opera Max follows a recent trend we’ve seen across the technology realm, as companies vie to get more people “connected” so they can use their services, particularly in developing markets. Facebook recently revealed it would start using satellites to beam broadband to large parts of Africa, while its polarizing Internet.org free-Internet program was rebranded as Free Basics. Google, too, is working to bring Internet access to more markets using balloons, while supplementing such initiatives by enabling offline access in some of its services.
Though Opera is continuing to ramp up the number of streaming apps it supports, the limited range will preclude many from enjoying its benefits — there is no support for Spotify. This may change, however.
“We keep fine tuning the streaming-audio-optimization technology in Opera Max, so people can save more data while enjoying good audio quality,” said Sergey Lossev, product manager at Opera Software. “We will support more music-streaming apps in the near future.”