Norway-based Opera Software has released the newest version of its browser for Windows and Mac. Released as Opera Next, the channel for the beta version of the browser, this update marks Opera’s shift from the WebKit rendering engine to the Chromium project's Blink engine. 

Opera had announced back in February that it would be ditching its own Presto engine for WebKit, but later followed Google and adopted Blink after the search giant said it would build its own engine. Opera had said at the time that the shift was due to its commitment to stick with Chromium.

Opera said in a statement that the entire browser has been rewritten from scratch. And to be honest, this shift does make Opera look and behave a lot like the Chromium browser, as it basically uses the same engine. The address bar can be used to search for stuff directly, much like Chromium’s omnibox, and the Google search box on the top right has been done away with. 

The Speed Dial page has also been refreshed to let you organise shortcuts to webpages in folders. You can even filter your shortcuts by folder, which we think is a great feature to have if you’re the type to have lots of shortcuts to websites. 

What’s more, the browser also has the same ‘Discover’ tab on the new Android version of the browser. It's like a news feed and shows you content from a variety of sources based on your location and some categories, such as news, food and entertainment. You can add or remove categories from a list and customise exactly what Opera recommends.

Also new, is a ‘Stash’ feature that lets you stick complete websites to a tab by clicking a heart icon in the address bar. You can “stash” previews of multiple webpages for later reference and then view all your stashed pages together. The Stash tab lets you zoom in and out of the previews, but you can’t rearrange them. Clicking on a preview will load the full webpage.

You should note that Opera has decided to remove the browser’s internal email client. The client will now be available as a standalone email application; it’s called Opera Mail and will be available for Windows and Mac. Opera has made available the first release candidate of the client.

Opera Turbo has been replaced by an “Off-road mode”. It now supports Google’s SPDY protocol, which compresses webpages and content, and reduces latency to quite an extent.

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