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Introducing power saving mode in Opera for computers

 

 

the first major browser to include a dedicated power saving mode, designed to extend your laptop battery life by up to 50% compared with, for example, Google Chrome. Depending on your type of hardware, it can mean several hours more browsing before you need to recharge your laptop.

Power Saving desktop browser fast battery save laptop Opera

Fear of running out of battery

Running out of battery is one of the most frustrating things that can happen to you while browsing. Whether you are traveling, watching videos, or you have just left your charger behind, the icon showing that your battery is dying is something none of us really want to see when we have important things to do online.

Luckily, since people spend almost all their time in their web browser and relatively speaking little time in other desktop applications, this is something we can do something about. Some months ago, we asked our browser engine team to start tuning Opera in order to give people people more hours of browsing when on the move.

Getting started with power saving

It’s easy to use the the new power saving mode. Once the laptop’s power cable is unplugged, the battery icon will appear next to the search and address field in the Opera browser. Click the battery icon to activate the power saving mode and flip on the switch.
The browser will also suggest you enable power saving mode when your laptop reaches 20% remaining battery capacity.

We made several under-the-hood optimizations to deliver these savings:

  • Reduced activity in background tabs
  • Waking CPU less often due to more optimal scheduling of JavaScript timers
  • Automatically pausing unused plug-ins
  • Reduced frame rate to 30 frames per second
  • Tuning video-playback parameters and forcing usage of hardware accelerated video codecs
  • Paused animations of browser themes

We believe these optimizations provide nice savings for you without compromising the speed and functionality you expect.

opera_powersavingmode_v2_bg

Battery savings for real-life browsing

Researching battery life is a typical “your mileage may vary” problem. However, we wanted to end up with a solution that would improve your daily laptop experience and not be something that works only in clean lab conditions.

We started by studying how our laptop users interact with the browser, which inspired us to create benchmarks that resemble real-life usage. Unlike speed benchmarks, there is quite a lot idle time and background activity. And, surprisingly, you can save a lot of energy from optimizing those states. Modern processors do an amazing job in saving power by taking tiny naps multiple times per second, and what our development team focused on was writing code that would wake them up as infrequently as possible.

Once we developed the set of optimizations included in this release, we began testing them in an as isolated way as possible using a telemetry framework. It is a great tool that can tell you how many miliwatthours your browser used in the test scenario. But, how could we convert electrical units into something more meaningful in our daily life – saved time?

So, we started doing full battery discharge tests on devices that we use daily. After a day or two, we ended up with lots of seemingly random data. Display backlight level, distance to Wi-Fi access point, antivirus software, system updates, other applications and even a forgotten driver for a motorcycle helmet headset – they can all significantly contribute to power usage. It took us quite some time to normalize our test environments, but still the challenge was to be able to repeat the tests multiple times in order to get statistically meaningful results. Draining battery fully takes time, recharging takes time as well. Therefore, we have been working on estimating battery lifetime from shorter tests that we can do now with a pretty high degree of confidence. The only tedious thing left was to actually plug in and plug out the charger, but, hey, show me an engineer who wouldn’t love to hack with some home automation systems?

Up to 50% more time browsing

The results from testing the power saving feature in this developer release show very promising results. In our test, designed to reflect the way people use browsers in real life, the latest Opera developer version was able to run 50% longer than browsers like Google Chrome on a laptop running Windows 10, 64-bit.

Opera Power saver longer battery, save, fast, browser, Chrome

The power saving mode results used in this posts were actually done on a Lenovo X250, Core i7-5600U, 16GB RAM and Dell XPS 13, 16GB RAM running on Windows 10, 64-bit, high-performance power mode. We used Selenium WebDriver loading 11 popular websites including YouTube. Each page was opened in separate tab, without closing previous ones, and was scrolled 5 times, then left alone for a minute. The test was repeated until the laptop ran out of battery completely. While testing the battery life with the power saving mode enabled, the ad blocker was on, too.

Changes to browser VPN

In addition to the power saving mode, we have worked on improving the browser VPN experience. After the initial developer release of the integrated VPN feature in our Opera browser, we got tons of positive feedback and suggestions from you. One of the most common requests we heard was to to make it easier to browse with some websites in VPN mode, while at the same time keep browsing other websites with VPN turned OFF . We also realized many people really wanted to use our browser VPN in combination with private browsing. So, we have changed the VPN feature to be part of our private browsing mode.

Opera VPN - private mode, browser, privacy, best

We believe that with this change, our browser VPN features provides even better privacy for users. Moreover, we wanted to make it easier to discover for new and existing users, therefore the VPN badge is always visible in the private window.

Additionally, in the first release for VPN, there was an issue where your original IP could be found by the webpage through establishing an WebRTC connection. We have resolved this by deactivating WebRTC when in VPN mode.

Thank you for all the feedback!

Your input is very important for us to release new features as soon as possible. Please continue your great work!

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Share your feedback

As you can see, our personal news feed is much more than just a new incarnation of the previous news feature. It gives you many more personalization options and gathers content for you in a smarter way. It’s a first step towards a better, online news-reading experience.

Please help us improve this feature by sharing your feedback. We are very interested in what you think about this feature.

Browser VPN – the next steps

Thank you very much for your feedback following the latest browser VPN release in the Developer version. We hear it and we value it a lot.

We see three main patterns people would like to use browser VPN for: the full browser level VPN, a separate window (or a tab) and private window. That reflects situations, when we are on a public wifi and we want to protect everything we browse online. Also when you want to access only a few different websites, while keeping your other tabs at full browsing speed. Last but not least, when you want to enhance your external privacy, not only clear local traces (history and cookies). So we are going to polish the first and third use cases a little bit more to provide rock solid quality. However, we need to admit that current Blink implementation has too many assumptions about how regular window and private window work, so the second scenario will require additional effort.

Please keep providing us your feedback, so we can improve our product.

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that video popout feature is damn awesome :D

exactly what users like me need when having the webbrowser covering 2/3 of the window and you want to watch a movie while continuing browsing. 

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When are they going to push out a newer version to the stable branch?  I'm still on 37 so I don't have VPN and the other cool stuff.

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1 hour ago, George P said:

When are they going to push out a newer version to the stable branch?  I'm still on 37 so I don't have VPN and the other cool stuff.

Next week Opera 38 but the features you want are in Opera 39

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Personal news feed and VPN update

 

Opera’s service, which powers the personal news feed, checks over 10,000 news sources to find trending and interesting articles from different categories and countries. Various aspects are taken into account before article or piece of news gets on the list, such as popularity among users, including hot topics (e.g., important sport events), freshness and website popularity. We also try hard to balance different articles and source, so single news or site will not dominate the whole list. You can expect mostly news, sports and entertainment along with interesting stories from other categories.

We’re still developing the feature so keep an eye on following updates. Also keep the comments coming they are very helpful for us.

Custom ad-blocking rules

Since we introduced native ad blocker, we have got a lot of requests to have a possibility to add custom lists. First we introduced an option to load them from a local file, today we add functionality to load it from any URL. Just make sure you have advanced settings turned on, then in the “Custom block lists…” dialog you can add any address, which contains ad-blocking rules in EasyList format.

Usually, such files contain modification date as well as the update frequency. These values determine how often the list will be automatically updated. If the list definition says that the list expires in 4 days, that means it will be updated every 4 days starting from the last modification date mentioned in the document.

Browser VPN back as browser preference

Thank you very much for the feedback about how you’ve been using VPN. We also promised that we are going to offer both functionalities: a full browser VPN and a separate one that works within a private window only. This release contains them both, and we would appreciate your feedback on this improvement, too!

Other info

In the previous release comments, you have reported general slowness when browsing with the adblocking feature on. This has been fixed – please check out the newest version and let us know if everything is OK for you.

Chromium has been updated to 52.0.2739.0.


Known issues

– VPN badge is always visible. It is a bug, and we are going to fix it, so you will be able to tune it in preferences.
– Source labels in personal news are sometimes misplaced.
– Top 50 has hiccups and doesn’t show anything in some countries.
– Top 50 shows news according to language selected in the catalog.
– A number of strings is not localized.

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Posted (edited)

Life begins at 40! Opera developer goes 40 today.

 

Quote

We’re keeping pace and along with the synchronization changes, we’re working on:
– improvements in video popout (especially hardware acceleration)
– improvements to personal news (for instance, we are currently working on the RSS reader which was repeatedly requested by many of you)
– further improvement of the battery saving mode
– revitalization of speed dial

You can expect these soon in the developer stream.

 

Edited by Lyraull
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Lowering memory usage in Opera and Blink with Heap compaction

 

How big are the memory savings

We conducted research to discover how heap compaction translates into memory savings. This involved visiting several popular websites, such as Wikipedia and NYTimes.com, as well as doing some occasional same-site navigation and interactions with the content. After approximately 15 minutes, we sampled the total heap size for the compactable sub-heaps.

The results show that, with this feature, the Blink heap size decreases significantly. As a very positive example, for Gmail compaction reduces the size from 6.8MB to 2.3MB, which, for many users, will translate into better general laptop performance. Heaps will naturally be compacted again as fragmentation regrows, throughout the lifetime of a site visit.

Heap compaction

Opera’s engineers partner closely with our Google counterparts to reduce the memory use of the rendering engine Blink, and, in upcoming months, we are planning to upstream this technology to the the Blink project, as well.

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