Charles Hamel, product manager for Hype at Opera
On Tuesday, Kenya became the first African country to get a feel for the new Hype chat service from Norwegian browser developer Opera.
The new service is integrated into the Opera Mini mobile web browser to provide users with a personalized, engaging browsing experience that enables seamless browsing and chatting.
“Chat services and browsers are apps that people use every day and feel very personal,” said Hype Product Manager Charles Hamel (pictured) in a statement announcing the new development.
“With the addition of Hype to Opera Mini, we’re not only rethinking what a chat service should look like in 2021, we’re also changing the definition of a mobile browser.”
Opera is using Kenya as a pilot market for the new service, which uses end-to-end encryption, before it is rolled out to the rest of the continent.
The launch, Hamel said, is one facet of Opera’s focus on investing and growing its digital ecosystem in Africa to get more people online. Since 2018, Opera has grown its user base in Africa by 40 percent.
“Hype was developed for African consumers. Today, 40 percent of the Kenyan population have access to smartphones, with younger generations dominating, ”he said.
Hype offers users a range of stickers created by Kenyan artists Brian Omolo and Lulu Kitololo that reflect everyday expressions unique to Kenyans.
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“We are very excited to be celebrating African culture with hype and we are very excited about the result and the collaboration with Brian and Lulu,” said Hamel.
“These unique stickers with original designs are something that we at Opera are very proud of as we are the first major browser to incorporate real African art and pop culture into our products.”
Hype offers WebSnap, a feature previously known from the Opera desktop browser that allows users to take snapshots of the web.
Once a websnap is captured, users can edit it by adding colors, text, and emojis before sharing it with others.
WebSnap also makes it easy for users to share the link of the original website they took their snapshots of.
According to Hamel, this comes in handy as users no longer have to copy links from websites and switch between apps to share the content they want.
Opera was also the first technology company to incorporate messenger services as part of its PC browser in 2019. Today more than 80 million users enjoy the integration of services like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter.
The Opera Mini mobile browser, launched in 2006, includes features such as data compression, offline file sharing and an integrated ad blocker.