Home/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Opera’s free VPN app for Android

Better known for its mobile and web browsers that speed up browsing, Opera has been trying to make inroads into other areas of internet usage for some time. First came the Opera Max app, which was a data compression tool that compressed the data transferred through your mobile apps and saved on 3G/4G usage. Then, the company released the free VPN (Virtual Private Network) service called Opera VPN. The service was first released on iOS in May, and is now being rolled out for Android phones as well. 

Typically used by professionals, a virtual private network (VPN) creates an encrypted connection between a probably insecure private network and a secure public network. This allows professionals to remotely access their company’s network as if they were accessing it from within the company premises. VPN is increasingly being used as a security tool to secure browsing sessions and gain unrestricted access to websites or apps which are otherwise restricted to select countries.

Most reliable VPN services on smartphones and tablets limit the amount of usage for free, after which they charge a premium on a monthly or yearly basis. Opera VPN’s key highlight is that it is free to download and use with no limits whatsoever. 

Opera VPN provides security score to the WiFi network
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Opera VPN provides security score to the WiFi network

Create a virtual private network 

Unlike other well-known VPN services on mobile such as Tunnel Bear VPN or OpenVPN Connect, Opera VPN has a very basic layout. As you open, it will land you straight to the status of the VPN and the option to connect to the network right away. Once the connection is established, a key icon will show on the top the screen and within the app, the user has to select a new region from the list of options. As of now, the list shows only five counties including the US and Canada. Switching region allows users to change their virtual location and bypass regional restrictions which prevent users from accessing content that is only available to users in select countries. This only makes international content accessible to users. Users still have to subscribe and pay for premium content. 

Protection against ad trackers

When a user visits a website, it sends data known as cookies to the web browser. This data is stored on the browser so the website can remember user’s browsing activity, addresses, web pages and password. Nowadays, this data is used by websites to show interest-based ads to users. Opera VPN has a feature called Guardian, which blocks ad trackers and prevents websites from gathering browsing activities of users. Guardian shows the number of ad trackers it has blocked. It is not an advertisement blocker. So, you will continue to see advertisements on web pages but it will block websites from tracking your online activity. 

Is your WiFi network secure?

The other highlight of Opera VPN is the ability to test the Wi-Fi network your device is connected to and tell if it is secure or not. It basically runs a series of tests on the Wi-Fi network to determine how safe the network is. It also provides information on the number of devices sharing the network, whether its IP address is exposed or not, whether there is a risk of Wi-Fi sniffing and whether the Wi-Fi network is protected by a strong password or not. Based on all the parameters, it provides security score to the Wi-Fi network, helping users decide whether to stay on it or not.

Abhijit Ahaskar
Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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Updated: 24 Aug 2016, 04:14 PM IST
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