Alternate browsers could take on the biggies

06th November 2016
Alternate browsers could  take on the biggies
The best of the alternate browsers: Opera, Vivaldi, UC Browser

Beyond the biggies, there are some  cool new  browsing  options on offer. We check out three recent options
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, November 7 2016: The days when one  could  create a smart  headline about Browser Battles are over.  Those wars are history.   Google's Chrome rules both desktop and mobile platforms.  Microsoft has moved beyond Internet Explorer  and  has  added some thoughtful  tools to its new browser, Bing. And Firefox    present mostly on PCs, has reinvented itself for portable devices. 
But these days one can think beyond the Big Three.   Some cool browsing options are on offer from independent developers  and each of them  has some special strengths,  and features to offer. I have narrowed down these challengers to three  global contenders . Two are available in portable  (mobile phone and tablet) avatars. Having tried out the latest versions of  all three for a few weeks now, I  have tried to highlight which are the most compelling differentiators of each of them.  Give one or more a try -- I am betting you will find some features that  are not available in the Usual Suspects.
Opera: It is 20 years since  the Opera browser was first launched by the Norwegian telecom company Telenor. Their big explosion came when they launched Opera Mini for phones.  In July this was   redesigned for India  for Android users, with a major content partnership with  Bollywood Hungama   to provide curated  film  news,  box office updates, collections, interviews and reviews.  The partnership  gave users access to 50 Bollywood stories a day,  1 lakh celebrity photos and wallpapers, 15,000 videos, and  half a lakh songs.  India is the largest market for Opera and it is only in India that  Opera partners with local content providers.
The India Opera Mini also offers support for 13 Indian languages; a built-in media player and the ability to download videos from popular social networking and news sites directly onto users’ smartphone or memory card.
Some features of the global browser make  Opera worth considering.   Since May,  an ad blocker is built in   and does not need additional download.  Also notable is the  free Virtual Private Network feature akin to a  virtual fence around your browsing that lets you reach sites that may be barred to you otherwise due to geographical restrictions. The Wi-Fi test tool in Opera VPN will scan a Wi-Fi network to check if it’s  safe.  Opera Mini can be downloaded free  for Android devices at Google Play. In July this year,   the browser  was acquired by a Chinese Internet security company,  Qihoo. We have to wait and see how Opera evolves in the future.
UC Browser: Owned by Chinese online e-commerce giant, Alibaba, UC Browser has been available for all major platforms since 2004. But its mobile avatar is the flagship product  -- and the no. 1 own browser on phones in India, with some 80 million active users. It is trying to push Indian users into what it calls  the GUF era --  Google+UCWeb+Facebook. 
The browser has cemented its bond with Indian users, by   a news feature and a content tie up with Colors TV.  News  from UC feeds are now integrated with the browser. Once a user selects his favourite topics, the algorithm adapts and offers more information on the topic of  choice. The information is  available in 2 languages - English and Hindi, to be followed by other Indian languages starting with Tamil. 
The partnership with Colors is centered around four  popular TV  shows Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, 24, Big Boss and Comedy Nights Live. UCWeb will create multiple engagement platforms around these shows. Users of the browser will can  final commoner participants of the Big Boss house through a popularity poll from among  13 shortlisted candidates. UC Browser users have a chance to make some of these people, celebrities through the poll. Users for whom their phone is an extension of TV, will find some definite advantages with UC Browser. There is also the benefit that you can go incognito when browsing .  You can download UC Browser  for Android at Google Play
Vivaldi: This new browser,  with its roots in Oslo, Norway, has an  interesting origin.  In 2015 Jon  von Tetzchner,  co-founder and the former CEO of Opera,  started a new company, Vivaldi.  Spurred by the imminent  sale of the Opera browser,  Tetzchner and his employee-owned company  unveiled version 1.0 of the  Vivaldi browser in April this year, with the stated aim of making browsing productive, efficient -- and fun. It has already gained more than a million users worldwide and Tetzchner is in India  this week to   build up the business here..
The browser is now in version 1.4  and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. at  It offers some neat advances on current browsers that will appeal to people who like to do 'parallel processing' -- opening and using multiple pages at the same time.  To reduce clutter on the desktop, Vivaldi offers tab stacks.  Drop tabs on top of each other to create a stack and you can  customize how you  switch between them.   If you have a large screen, you can open multiple tabs and view them side by side. With web panels, you can add individual websites to Vivaldi’s side panels to browse alongside your main browser window.|
There are a few other  nice things about Vivaldi, like the ability to  make it understand mouse gestures for  rapid action. Or the notes tool where Vivaldi remembers which site you were browsing at the time, and allow you to take screenshots as well. 
The 18th century Italian  music composer Vivaldi was best known for his work,  the 'Four Seasons'. The cyber Vivaldi looks like being a browser for all seasons.