Opera, the makers of an ad-blocking web browser whose most recent claim to fame is to have TikTok built-in, announced today that it’s rolling out an updated version of its iOS app that now includes its free VPN. Previously available on Mac, Windows, Linux and Android, the iOS release now makes Opera the first browser to offer a free VPN service across all major computing platforms, the company touted in its announcement.
The news is particularly timely, as Opera’s closest competitor Google expanded its own VPN tool to desktop users on Mac and PC late last year, following earlier support for iOS and Android. But in the case of Google, the VPN is only available to paid subscribers of the Google One Premium plans. Apple also offers a tool for encrypting an internet connection with the iCloud Private Relay feature, although it’s not really a VPN. But like Google, it is also only available as part of a paid subscription (iCloud+).
Opera’s VPN, meanwhile, requires no subscription. The company says users don’t need to create an account to log in or use the feature. Opera also notes that it does not collect any personal information or data related to the user’s browsing habits or their originating IP address. And the service doesn’t require any additional extensions to use – users can activate them from the main menu in the app to begin encrypting their VPN traffic.
The company can offer end-users tools for free because it generates revenue through other channels, including search and advertising revenue, as well as technology licensing fees. For example, it projects $370-390 million in revenue for 2023.
Still, some users may not feel comfortable with Opera’s VPN service, as the Norwegian company was sold to a Chinese consortium in 2016. The nature of US-China relations now has the government considering a ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps, which could potentially complicate Opera’s plans for the future.
For iOS users, the Opera mobile browser app aims to differentiate itself from just the new VPN feature. The app includes other unique tools such as a “My Flow” for sharing files between devices, a native Crypto Wallet feature, a built-in ad blocker, and a security-focused cryptojacking protection feature, among others.
With today’s update, the iOS app also gets a number of other additions, including a new bookmarks feature for organizing favorite content and a Live Scores feature for following the latest scores of sports teams via a leaderboard on the browser’s homepage .
However, Opera warns that while the features, including the VPN, are launching today, the full rollout will actually take place over the next few weeks. That means you might not see the new VPN feature right away when you launch the iOS app, but you should soon.