Why it matters to you
If you’re looking for a web browser not issued by Mozilla, Google, or Microsoft, Vivaldi offers a new version targeting power users.
The latest release of the Vivaldi web browser, version 1.11, is now available to download. The update brings an improved Reader Mode, an adjustable Mouse Gesture sensitivity, and means for quickly switching off animated GIFs. The company has a sparkly new logo, too, but it won’t have anything to do with your browsing experience save for enhancing the software’s overall look.
The company behind the web browser, Vivaldi Technologies, was founded by the former co-founder and CEO of Opera Software, another browser developer. He set out to create a feature-rich solution for an audience that moved away from the Opera browser once it shifted layout engines, thus removing many features power users loved about it.
That’s where Vivaldi comes in. Consider it as the successor to Opera 12, which was the last version of the Opera browser before the engine was changed and features were dropped. The first release of the Vivaldi web browser arrived in January of 2015 as a technical preview to address a community-driven need for a feature-packed solution. The browser’s name stems from Italian Baroque composer Antonio Lucio Vivaldi.
One of the popular features thrown into the Vivaldi mix is a “Reader Mode” that strips away all the distracting items on web pages, providing a clean, book-like reading experience. With the release of version 1.11, this feature now includes settings that can be adjusted without leaving the page. Options to customize the reading experience appear at the top of the page, including font size, font type, column width, and line height. Users can switch between light and dark backgrounds too.
“Vivaldi’s custom themes add another dimension to the improved Reader Mode,” the company says. “Users can choose their custom theme and apply it to the Reader Mode. Custom themes in Vivaldi have programmatic support to enforce minimal contrast, which makes the browser more comfortable for people with visual impairments.”
As for deactivating animated GIF images, this feature can be accessed by clicking on the “Toggle Images” button on the Status Bar located at the bottom of the browser. Prior to the update, this button pulled up a menu for turning image loads on and off, or allowing the browser to pull images from the local cache. Now there’s a “Load Animations” section with three options: Always, Once, and Never.
Finally, the company expanded its mouse gesture capability. This feature can be accessed by clicking on the “Settings” icon on the side panel, and choosing “Mouse” in the resulting list. With “Allow Gestures” activated, users can add commands like reloading a page, closing a tab, rewinding the browser history, and more. Now this section includes the ability to set the stroke length for gesture recognition, measuring between five and 100 pixels in size.
Other accessibility features highlighted by the new release include setting the zoom level on a per-tab basis, keyboard shortcuts, quick commands, and what the company calls “spatial navigation.” This describes a shorter input time when navigating to content.