Last December, Opera announced Max, a free app that would use Opera’s servers to compress all the non-encrypted data to your Android device. At the time, it opened up sign-ups for a small private alpha test, but starting today, it will take sign-ups for its soon-to-launch Max beta.
Max will compress all data sent to your phone, including text, photos and video (which tends to take up quite a bit of mobile bandwidth). Depending on how you use your phone, this could save you quite a bit of bandwidth and — if you’re on a limited plan — a few dollars, too.
This technology isn’t anything new for Opera, of course. While Google only started rolling out its data-saving proxy for Chrome mobile very recently, Opera has long offered its so-called “Turbo” mode on the desktop, and some of its mobile browsers rely solely on getting compressed data from Opera’s servers. Indeed, that’s how Opera was able to get its iPhone app approved without having to rely on Apple’s built-in browser engine.
While details about Opera’s technology behind Max remain sparse, the company says it decided to extend this compression technology for the browser to all of your phone’s apps. Some apps like Facebook always encrypt all of your data, and those connections will always bypass Opera’s proxies. Judging from Opera’s screenshots, though, image-heavy apps like Instagram, Flipboard and Vine will greatly benefit from this tool.
In return, though, all your data will flow through Opera’s servers. Whether you want to use the tool will likely depend on how much you trust the company with your data. It also remains to be seen whether using Opera’s proxies adds a lot of lag or ends up pixelating images too much in an effort to conserve bandwidth.
The app is already available in Google’s Play store, and installing it will allow you to get in line for the beta. For now, the tool will only be available in the U.S. and Western Europe.