Opera has rolled outÂ a set ofÂ privacy featuresÂ to its data-saving proxy for Android,Â Opera Max.Â Itâs now billing itÂ as a âdata management and privacy appâ.
The companyÂ previewed theÂ new privacy mode last month, sayingÂ it would be starting a gradual rollout â with the feature first available inÂ Samsungâs S Secure modeÂ on the Samsung Galaxy J5 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime phones. Today it says the privacy features areÂ nowÂ available to all Opera Max users, regardless of the Android device theyâre using.
Opera MaxÂ originallyÂ launched in February 2014, with a focus on bandwidth and data consumption, with the companyÂ touting the free app as a way for Android users to save money.Â Opera says the idea with the new privacy mode is to expand the app to create a âprivacy timelineâ in addition to the âdata usage timelineâ,Â by providing a breakdown of how apps on the device are sharing data with third parties.
âWe want to educate our users by revealing which apps are sharing your data through trackers without your permission,â saidÂ Sergey Lossev, Opera Maxâs head of product, in a statement.
Although, with more apps offering their own data compression features â Facebook, for example, expanded its suite of data âliteâ apps to include Messenger last monthÂ â Opera Max arguably needs to do more than just data compression if itâs to keep attracting users.
The new privacy mode on Opera Max lets usersÂ viewÂ real-time privacy alertsÂ byÂ scrolling up and down the timeline. They can alsoÂ tap on individual timeline cards to drill into aÂ âprivacy breakdownâ of what an app did in a particular session. Although some reviewers are critical of how clearly this information is presented.
Another new feature is the ability for users to push a button to encrypt all app data and browsing traffic â to offerÂ an additional layer of âindustry-standard TLS/SSL protectionâ when using unencrypted apps on a public Wi-Fi or mobile network.
AlsoÂ included: an ad tracker blocker feature, based onÂ the open sourceÂ EasyPrivacy filter list, aimed at reducing how much ad profiling Opera Max users are subject to. Although another user of Opera Max posting a review on Google Play notes the app canât be used to restrict Operaâs own apps.
And, rather ironically, Opera does display some ads within Opera Max to, in its words, âkeep the app free for all our usersâ. But in the words of another reviewer of the app: âI wonder how much data I would be saving if the near constant and extremely annoying parade of ads was to go away. I would rather pay for a pro version than deal with this BS, so I am uninstalling this (cr)app.â
As well as complaining about an apparentlyÂ increased volume of ads within the app, multiple users are also unhappy that the new version requires them to interact with it more frequently (every 12 hours vs every seven days) to keep it active.
An Opera spokesperson responding on Google Play to criticisms of the appÂ becomingÂ ânagwareâ argues thatÂ having usersÂ using the app âonly when you need itâ should decrease the load on itsÂ servers âand make Opera Max more efficientâ.
But, from usersâ point of view, the new more intrusive interface for Opera Max looks to beÂ rather less efficient to use.
âThe âoldâ version just ran in the background doing itâs data saving thing. But now itâs constantly popping up reminding me to reset some kind of timer. Iâll give it a run for a while and see if it still saves data or not,â adds another reviewer.