On Wednesday, Opera made the very welcome addition of a free VPN to its Android app, giving its millions of users the ability to safely and securely browse the internet. Opera’s VPN has no usage limits, comes with strong 256-bit encryption, and doesn’t require a login, so your data isn’t even stored by Opera itself.
If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, VPNs, or virtual private networks, are pieces of software much beloved by the security-conscious on the internet. While the specifics vary between popular VPNs, you can expect every VPN to sport strong encryption, as well as a variety of servers around that help to hide your physical location from anyone looking to profit by accessing it.
It’ll cost you to access most VPNs, even on Android, so it’s surprising that Opera is offering its impressive VPN for free. Connecting to the VPN is easy. Simply download Opera’s browser from the Google Play Store, then access the Settings menu and turn on the VPN. You can also customize the VPN’s settings to spoof your physical location, though only generalized regions like “America” or “Europe” are allowed — there’s no selecting a specific country.
This is very much a win for anyone worried about their data on the internet (which should be all of us), but some are questioning Opera’s motives. While Opera claims it doesn’t track each user’s data while using a VPN, some have raised concerns around Opera’s Chinese ownership. The subject of Chinese government oversight over Chinese companies is one with a long history, and is the root of the troubles between Huawei and the U.S. government.
This update also adds other new features to Opera’s Android browser. Once you’ve received this update, you’ll be able to pair your cryptocurrency wallet between your desktop Opera browser and Android browser. Unfortunately though, this update will not be coming to devices using Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or earlier, as Chromium has recently ceased support for those older devices.
The update is currently rolling out worldwide, and you may need to wait for it to hit your specific region before you’re able to access it. If you’re not sure whether your app has been updated, check the Opera browser’s settings and select the About Opera option at the bottom. If your version is 51 or above, you should be able to find the VPN in your settings.