Vivaldi is the true successor to the original Opera browser, developed by a team lead by Jon S von Tetzchner, the founder of Opera. Having successfully established Vivaldi as a desktop browser, the aim is to establish a mobile presence, and this Android version is fully featured from the off.
The unique selling point of Vivaldi – its user customisation – is a key part of the mobile app and can be seen from the moment you open it for the first time, with the UI packing a lot into a small amount of space without overwhelming you. The Address bar and Vivaldi menu (via its icon) are at the top of the page, with the home page pointing to the familiar Speed Dial. Buttons at the bottom provide access to panels, history, search button and tab switcher. Everything is designed to mimic the look and feel of the desktop to boost familiarity.
At time of initial launch, only four panels are available to mobile users: bookmarks, history, downloads and the handy notes bar where you can create notes from scratch or from selected elements of web pages (just select as normal, and you’ll see a 'Copy to note' option appear – tap this and a new note is created).
The tab switcher button is where you go to access synced, regular and private tabs along with the trash can (giving you an option to recover accidentally closed tabs). Experiment with vertical and horizontal swipes as a means of navigation.
Other nifty touches: add descriptions to your bookmarks, all of which can be searched directly from the Address Bar – speaking of which, make use of single-letter search nicknames to quickly search across multiple engines – for example, 'g’ for Google, or 'b' for Bing.
You can nest bookmarks into folders that show up on the new tab screen for easy access. A 'Clone tab' option on the menu makes it easy to duplicate tabs and you can sign into your Vivaldi account to sync settings, bookmarks and tabs between devices. There’s even a screenshot tool that allows you to capture a full page, while accessibility options enable you to switch on Reader View and get prompted to use it on supported web pages.
Vivaldi is keen to highlight security: all synced data is subject to end-to-end encryption, and it promises it has no designs on storing, never mind selling, your personal data.
It’s a powerful first step into the world of the mobile browser – Vivaldi has clearly taken its time to get this right, with a good mix of features to open things up. Expect more features to migrate across from the desktop browser in the coming months – the challenge for Vivaldi will be to integrate them without losing its fast, responsive and user-friendly feel.
Vivaldi knows its niche: users who want full control over their browser. Vivaldi for Android takes a good first stride in providing its users with a customisable, but still easy-to-use browser for on the go.