Opera News

The apps I use most on my phone are: Twitter, YouTube, Deezer, Chrome, Facebook, Inbox by Gmail, Pocket and WhatsApp. In that order. (And also lately well, lately Android TV Remote). That’s why they are always on my home screen. To get me to use another app, you need to be convincing enough both in functionality and in purpose. I won’t just start using an app for the sake of it, or for the sake of rewards.

I have many apps on my phone. Some stay on any device I own by default, even if I will never open them in weeks. Such are Taxi apps and Bank Apps. They are to be fair, essential apps. But every once in a while, there will be the want to check out a new app in the hope that it will make your smartphone experience exciting.

Opera Mini:

The app anyone who has had a phone from as far back as 2010 remembers is Opera Mini. I had it in my Nokia X2-01. I had it in my Samsung Galaxy Pocket. And somewhere along the way we fell off. First of all: it was meant to offer a fast browsing experience. Nowadays, it is more like a bad version of any website I want to visit. Secondly, it blocks ads on websites, but bombards you with ads everywhere.

A browsing experience should be fluid. I am on your app to browse the internet. Not to checkout a video of someone who did something that will shock me. If Opera want to push news, and cool videos, push it on another app, not a browser. Also, if I could load a website without it appearing like something completely different, that would be nice.

I have tried for example loading some of my favourite tech websites on opera mini and they look horrendous. You scroll down and things disappear. You click on a link and wait for it to load, only to discover the tab was refreshing.

I don’t want notifications from my browser on things that are happening in Kenya. I don’t want breaking news on my browser. I don’t want to see what politician has done what because my browser thinks that’s a cool thing. I want my browser to be just that, a browser waiting for me to search what I want.

Opera News:

How do you get your news? Normally I would use Chrome Suggestions on the home page, and Google Cards on the Google App. No ads, and customised to my taste based on my searches. But currently I rely on Google News App because of good, verified, not-clickbaity, well arranged, perfectly presented content. But like I said, sometimes you download a new app trying to change your experience.

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If you check out Opera News on Play Store, and check the reviews, everyone seems to be loving it. It has over 10 Million downloads and an average rating of 4.5 Stars. Some reviews say: best news app, free gifts etc. Seems really good. Then you check the 1 star ratings and find almost everyone who gave it a 1 star is complaining about the same thing: ads. Of course there are people complaining about not getting their rewards for shaking to win, but the major complaint is ads.

The first thing I got after installing Opera News are 3 notifications: Bungoma News, Morning Briefs, and Anthony Joshua. We all hate notifications. Here’s an app sending notifications not more than a minute after installing. On the homepage, the top news was from Anthony Joshua, the next link was “Shake your phone to win World Cup Prizes”. And I have questions: how is it a news app if I am winning things? How is it customised to my taste? Why the notifications?

On Google News, I can (if I want to) receive notifications for a morning or evening brief. I opted out after realising I always swipe the notification away. But, the brief covers what I definitely would want to read because the content is from top news websites, and is tailored to my taste. The ads on Google News only appear on the websites when I open the story, meaning if I don’t open an article (or if a website has no ads), I won’t see any ads. A sharp contrast from Opera News where there’s an ad almost every step I make.

I believe the idea is great. And from the advertising and all, there’s a budget for a great product.

But there’s a problem with sources Opera chooses for news: they’re clickbait, alarmist, and made to drive traffic rather than pass information. There’s a problem with the business model. Yes Opera wants to make money, but throwing an ad everywhere, seriously? There’s a problem with having incentives to make people use your app. If this were a game, or an ecommerce site, it would make sense to have rewards etc. This is a news app for goodness sake.

Yes, we all want free MBs and free gifts, but do we want them on news apps? Opera should decide if they’re doing adverts and shake rewards, or if they are making a serious browser and a serious news reader.