The desktop browser market share is dominated by two players – Microsoft and Google. With each company holding a bit over 41 percent of the market, that only leaves about 18 percent to all other browsers. For most people, Chrome and IE will be just fine, but for those who want something different and more customizable, you may consider looking at that 18 percent to see what else is going on out there. From Opera’s lightning fast operation to Firefox’s stable progression of new features, alternative browsers are out there and are generally pretty great.
I recently heard about the Vivaldi browser. New browsers are a dime a dozen and many are quickly abandoned. However, Vivaldi just hit version 1.0 in April of 2016 and very recently released version 1.1. After learning that Vivaldi was founded by one of the co-founders of Opera Software, I decided to take a look.
The first time you see Vivaldi, you’ll be forgiven if you think it’s just Google Chrome. In fact, Vivaldi is built off of the Chromium Project – the open source project from Google that Google Chrome is made from. The Vivaldi team has taken Chromium and built on some neat features to help make it stand out from the crowd.
You can easily create groupings of tabs to keep your open tabs organized. This is definitely a useful feature, but the way Vivaldi implemented it is a bit awkward. I had a few issues dropping a tab onto another tab to create the stack. Once your stack is created though, it’s simple to select the tab you want from the stack. Simply hover over the main tab and click on the tab you want (Figure 2).
Vivaldi also touts their note taking capabilities. How many times have you gone to a web page, then opened up Word to take notes? With Vivaldi, you can simply highlight text on the webpage and right click on it to create a note – along with the link to the page you were on. Better yet, you can click the “+” button to take a screenshot of the page you were on or upload an attachment (Figure 3). Very handy!
Want to keep an eye on your social network feed while browsing in the same window? Use Vivaldi’s Web Panels. These are handy little bookmarks that let you slide open a website while still browsing in the main windows. It’s a bit hard to explain – see figure 4 for an example. On the left navigation bar, you can see I have set up web panels for Bright Hub, Facebook and CNN. The CNN web panel is currently open on the left side of the screen while I have Bright Hub’s main page open on the right side. The web panel size can be adjusted to fit your needs so you could easily have up a news feed or social media on the left and your main website on the right.
Lastly, the popular Speed Dial extension from Chrome is included with Vivaldi. Speed Dial lets you set your homepage to have a list of your favorite pages right there when you open your browser.
There are a lot of little things to like about Vivaldi including some great customization options. Tired of having your tabs on the top like every other browser? Put it on the side or even bottom. Themes are easy to change and with Vivaldi’s adaptive coloring the browser changes colors to match the site you are visiting. Little things like this make Vivaldi feel more adaptable to the end user.
Are the features as revolutionary as Vivaldi claims? Probably not – it’s more of an evolutionary leap than a full-on revolution, but between the tab stacks, notes and web panels, I think there’s enough in there to make Vivaldi a viable option for many people. Take a look – you’ll likely be happy with what you find.