Web browser Opera jumps into the blockchain ecosystem with a blockchain-oriented browser, dubbed as Web 3.0, that is specifically designed for surfing and interacting with the decentralized web.
The company announced the browser yesterday at theHard Fork Decentralized in London. Equipped with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet, the browser is now available for Android. With this step, Opera has established itself as the first mainstream browser to release a cryptocurrency and blockchain features.
The latest version of the browser will allow the user to access their digital identity, make transactions, and interact with decentralized apps (dApps). A number of blockchain-powered services will also be provided with seamless access. The platform hopes that the browser could raise more curiosity for the tech and eventually attribute in increasing the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies. Opera executive VP Krystian Kolondra said:
“Our hope is that this step will accelerate the transition of cryptocurrencies from speculation and investment to being used for actual payments and transactions in our users’ daily lives.”
Opera announced the development of an Android version of its app with a built-in wallet, in July. It was later revealed that the platform is also planning to develop a synchronization feature to enable users to access the wallet from their desktop browsers.
In September the browser went online to select beta testers since then the firm has been polishing the app. The desktop version of the crypto-browser will also be developed for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Though a beta version of the browser is already available, the official launch date of the final version is still unclear.
Both the Android browser and the built-in cryptocurrency wallet will support exclusively the Ethereum network. Project lead Charles Hamel told the publication:
“We’ve decided to support Ethereum, as it has the largest community of developers building Dapps and has gathered a lot of momentum behind it.”
While you can store your Ethereum tokens on the Opera browser, the rest tokens such as Bitcoin or other non-ERC20 atcoins will have to be stored elsewhere. Not committing to any announcements just yet, the platform does plan to add support for cryptocurrencies based on other protocols later.
Hamel explained to Hard Fork:
“One major hurdle in all this is that you need a special browser or special browser extensions to even start exploring the decentralized web and even then, users are faced with lots of new terminology that is sometimes confusing. That’s why made our browser super user-friendly.”
He adds further
“Using a Web 3.0 application is now just as easy as going to a website like Google or Facebook with Opera. This is a lot easier and faster than what has been available until now.”
Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Browser
Even with 20 years in the browser game under its belt, Opera did admit that building software for the blockchain space was not a walk in the park. Hamel shared with Hard Fork:
“We had to learn a lot of new technology ourselves and build competence around different blockchains, cryptography, and distributed networks in order to build our wallet. One of the biggest challenge was to define what a browser wallet should look like and how it should behave.”
Another aspect was to integrate the wallet seamlessly into the browser, so it comes across as a feature of the browser, not merely another app living inside the browser. Hamel stated:
“Another technical challenge was around site-compatibility. In the early days of the previous web developers made different assumptions in their code: this made their apps behave differently in different browsers,” “A similar phenomenon exists in Web 3, but we are already experiencing encouraging signs of progress in that area.”
One of the major concern that surrounded this development was the safety issue. It is often advised to store large amounts of cryptocurrency on hardware wallets, researches found smartphones as a pretty decent day-to-day storage alternative. To ensure more safety, Opera has taken every measure feasible for its app. Hamel added:
“Security has been a focus for the team since the inception of this product. We decided early-on to use Android’s secure key storage (with hardware support) and protect the keys to the wallet using the user’s device lock screen. This has two benefits, first of all, the user doesn’t need to create a new PIN code to remember and secondly, we get the maximum security possible offered by the Android OS.”
He elaborates further:
“We also kept this true for our desktop product, which benefits from this security, while making the wallet available in the desktop browser through our pairing system. The keys remain always within the Android keystore.”
Opera’s blockchain endeavour
The platform has already expressed its intention to continue building for the decentralized web, may be this will enable the browser to disrupt Google Chrome’s grip on the browser market. Hamel said:
“We believe all browsers will eventually integrate some kind of wallet, which will enable new business models to emerge on the web. We are very happy with the version we are launching today, which greatly simplifies onboarding and makes Web 3.0 just as easy to use as the the current web we’re used to.”
Notably, industry insiders have already started warmly welcoming Opera into the ecosystem Joseph Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum and venture studio ConsenSys commented:
“It’s a significant step for one of the world’s leading browsers to add an Ethereum-based [cryptocurrency] wallet and dApp explorer, and speaks to Opera’s innovative roots and commitment to embracing next generation technology. We see this as an important moment in improving dApp accessibility, opening Web 3.0 to mainstream audiences, and encouraging developers to build on Ethereum.”
“The key to accelerating the adoption of Web 3.0 applications should be a great browser which allows people to seamlessly use the web they know and venture out into Web 3.0.That being said, there are still many interesting areas where the decentralized web needs to improve in the future and we intend to stay at the forefront,” Hamel enthusiastically told Hard Fork.
The blockchain-focused Opera browser is already available to download for free. Head to the Play Store here to check it out.