Kenya on Tuesday became the first African country to get a feel of Norwegian browser developer Opera’s new chat service, Hype.
The new service is built into mobile web browser Opera Mini in what the firm said is meant to give users a personalised, engaging browsing experience that enables seamless surfing and chatting.
“Chat services and browsers are apps people use every day and feel very personal about,” said Product Lead for Hype Charles Hamel (pictured) in a statement announcing the new development.
“With the integration of Hype in Opera Mini, we are not only rethinking what a chat service should be like in 2021, but also changing the very definition of what a mobile browser should be.”
Opera is using Kenya as a pilot market for the new service, which uses end-to-end encryption, before rolling out to the rest of the continent.
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The launch, Hamel said, is a facet of Opera’s emphasis on investing and growing its digital ecosystem in Africa, intending to bring more people online. Since 2018, Opera said it has grown its user base in Africa by 40 per cent.
“Hype was developed with African consumers in mind. Today, 40 per cent of the Kenyan population has access to smartphones, with younger generations dominating,” he said.
Hype offers users a series of stickers created by Kenyan artists Brian Omolo and Lulu Kitololo, reflecting everyday expressions unique to Kenyans.
“We are thrilled to celebrate African culture with Hype, and we are very excited with the result and the collaboration we had with Brian and Lulu,” said Hamel.
“These unique stickers with original designs are something we are very proud of at Opera as we become the first major browser to integrate real African art and pop culture into our products.”
Hype features WebSnap, a feature previously known from the Opera desktop browser that allows users to take snapshots from the web.
Once a websnap is captured, users can edit it by adding colours, text, and emojis before sharing with others.
WebSnap also allows users to smoothly share the link of the original website from which they took their snaps.
Hamel said this comes in handy as users no longer need to copy links from websites and switch between apps to share the content they want.
Opera was also the first tech firm to integrate messenger services as part of its PC browser in 2019. Today, more than 80 million users enjoy the integration of services such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter.
The Opera Mini mobile browser, which was launched in 2006, includes features such as data compression, offline file sharing and a built-in adblocker.