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Opera Neon could quickly become my favorite browser

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Opera Neon is the newest browser from, you guessed it, Opera, and though it’s billed as a ‘concept’ browser of the future, it’s quickly becoming my favorite new browser, with one major caveat.

Why is another new browser interesting? Well, because it doesn’t look much like any of the other major browsers available today, and brings some genuinely useful new features to Windows users.

What can Opera Neon do?

Rather than providing the usual array of thumbnail tabs horizontally across the top of the display, they’re displayed down the right-hand side as visual thumbnails – this allows for larger images, and therefore less getting lost in your tabs (which is important to me particularly).

Also particularly useful is the ability to listen to music or watch videos playing in other tabs without navigating away from whatever you’re doing on your main one. To do this, you just need to start the song or video on your site of choice, and it’ll be automatically detected and popped into the left sidebar. From there, you can just listen along as normal (you can pause it from this sidebar too) or pop out a small thumbnail of a video over the top of the tab that you’re looking at. The feature is clearly still being fine-tuned, which means if you’re watching something where you care about frame rates, the popped out option isn’t going to work well for you at the moment.

Once you’ve popped a video out, you place it anywhere.

In that same left sidebar are a couple of other shortcuts too, which let you take a cropped screenshot of any area of the screen and then review it, and a separate section that shows you all the files you’ve downloaded with little thumbnails.

In listing the features, it doesn’t sound like much too special, but Opera’s delivered it in a way that feels both fresh and useful This feeling of ‘newness’ is helped by the new SpeedDial replacement, which sees your shortcuts arranged in a more planetary affair, and little graphical flourishes, like the animation when you delete a file from your downloads. Neon also mirrors your desktop wallpaper too, which is neat.

opera neon desktop background

Opera Neon open on the left, desktop on the right.

Adding new shortcuts to the home screen is as simple as dragging an open tab from the right sidebar. It’s a similar situation for images you’ve cropped or downloaded too – you just need to drag them from the left sidebar into the main window to open them in full screen. For people that want a task manager just for there browser, there’s even that too.

Now the caveat: Neon is a work in progress, and while it seems pretty stable and I can live with minor things like frame rate issues in the new video popout feature, it’s harder to live without the usual array of browser addons that you might have come to rely on. If you don’t have a set of extensions you consider essential in a browser, Opera Neon is well worth a look. It’s only for Windows users, though.

Opera Neon

I'm a tech journalist and editor with lots of opinions. 10second.tech is a place for me to put those. All views expressed are personal, and not those of any titles for which I write in other capacities. As well as running this site, I also write for WIRED, Engadget, Trusted Reviews, and a number of other leading technology titles. I also run SexTechGuide.com.You're welcome to contact me via [email protected] if you have news or anything else to pass along, on twitter at @10sectech or @TheNextWoodsTech startup founders that need media advice or PRs and brands that need content strategy advice should visit benwoodsish.com.

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Insight

How to restore the old @ Twitter replies on Windows and Mac

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Twitter always come under a lot of pressure from users for changes to its UI. This week, the humble @ reply was changed to streamline conversations and encourage more replies.

The changes, however, aren’t welcomed by many Twitter users:

And it’s not just working out what’s a reply and what’s not, it’s also damaging to brands.

https://twitter.com/lauraolin/status/847612421359325184

How to get back the old Twitter UI

Thankfully, changing back to the old way of viewing tweets isn’t difficult, you just need to download Tweeten for Mac or Windows. If you’d rather not install the desktop software, you can use the Chrome or Microsoft Edge browser plugins instead.

To enable the old style @ replies, or put back the ‘favorite’ rather than ‘like’ button, you need to right-click anywhere within the app. On the Windows version tested, navigating to the ‘Settings’ in the lower-left corner of the app doesn’t bring up the correct options, which is a little confusing. However, right clicking and hitting Settings will bring up the correct panel.

You can see the difference between the new and old style replies shown within Tweeten below.

The candid update note delivered to existing Tweeten users was also appreciated.

 – Tweeten

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A really handy free tool for your tech-confused relatives (or maybe even you?)

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Do you know your JigaPNGs from your TetraLols? Is a RibbiBit something I just made up? Did I make all of them up?

Of course I did, but you might not know that if tech is your foe, rather than your friend, and that’s where the ‘Sideways Dictionary‘ comes in. If you don’t know your ransomware from a trojan, or are baffled by bitcoin, the potential tech holds is more confusing than empowering and the headlines you read make less and less sense.

Now, when you find yourself discombobulated all you need to do is go to Sideways, and see what the term that’s confusing you really means – unlike a normal Wikipedia-style definition or dictionary entry, however, the site uses analogies rather than descriptions to get the point across. So, adblocking, for example, is ‘like auto-skipping the ads on recorded TV. The ads fund the programs, but if people can find a way to avoid watching them, they usually do,” in one ‘definition’.

There are multiple analogies per term, and you can submit your own if you register and login. Likewise, you can vote on your favorite analogies to see them rise up the page. And if you don’t want to keep visiting the site directly, you can install a Sideways Dictionary Chrome plugin that will indicate any terms that can be defined as you browse around the Web.

While it sounds simple, the tool is actually the work of Alphabet-incubated JigSaw and the Washington Post – whether or not user submissions will be vetted closely enough to keep all the analogies of a good enough quality to be useful remains to be seen.

For now, it’s a useful place to get a simple explanation to send to your perennially-confused family and friends.

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Monzo outage is perfect example of why you should choose services based on how they deal with problems

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Monzo is a bit of a darling of the fintech scene at the moment, but it’s by no means alone in trying to ‘redefine’ banking for a digital, mobile-first experience.

What that means is that there are many different companies all offering similar and comparable services, that are all suitable for slightly different users, depending on the features you need. However, an outage at the weekend served as a useful reminder that choosing a company or services based on how well it communicates and deals with its problems should come near the top of your list of considerations.

Due to a failure in an upstream provider, a handful of UK fintech upstarts left customers stranded without the ability to make payments in shops. Or, most users would have been stranded if Monzo, Revolut, Loot and other affected services hadn’t been quick to inform users of the problems as they occurred.

Monzo particularly, however, did a great job of keeping its users up to date via in-app notifications, its Twitter feed and a dedicated status page on its site. Multiple updates kept users informed of the problem and an estimated fix time, while of course reminding people to carry another card with them while the problem was ongoing.

Of course, there were always going to be a few unlucky people caught out by the problem – if you were at the till trying to pay as it occurred, there wouldn’t have been an explanation in place, for example – but transparency and reliable communication is highly-valued by users, particularly when it comes to any sort of financial services.

So while I don’t have a Monzo (or any other fintech challenger) account, when the need arises, I know where I’ll be looking first, and it almost certainly won’t be one found on a high-street.

 

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