Continuing with what has become a series of rollouts of new features for its Opera Web browser, Opera Software today announced that it will offer a free virtual private network (VPN) app for iOS devices. The development could have particular relevance for enterprises that deploy iPads or iPhones and use VPNs to safeguard their data.
“If you own an iPhone or iPad, the free Opera VPN app can help you enhance your online privacy, access more content and extend the reach of your apps,” the company wrote in a statement. “This is especially relevant on campuses and workplaces as people often experience restricted access to social media and video-streaming Web sites.”
Not All Good News for Enterprises
The new app represents the first full, free VPN application from Opera, although the company recently made headlines by announcing that it had embedded a free, native VPN client in a developer version of its desktop browser that would offer users unlimited data usage.
The VPN app will offer iOS device users a number of different advantages, particularly with respect to privacy. Enabling the Opera VPN on an iPhone or iPad will remove ad-tracking cookies that often track users as they browse the Web, which can be potentially damaging to companies working on confidential projects.
Of course, the app would also have some effects that enterprises are less likely to appreciate. Chief among them is the ability that VPNs give users to circumvent content and site restrictions that are often enforced when connecting to corporate or campus-wide networks.
“Every day, millions of people, from students to working people, find that social media sites like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are blocked when they surf on their campus or workplace Wi-Fi, Chris Houston, president of Surfeasy, Opera’s VPN division, said in Opera's statement. “The same goes for video-streaming sites. With the new Opera VPN app, we help people to break down the barriers of the Web and enjoy the Internet like it should be.”
Multiple Country and Language Settings
The app will also allow users to choose the location of their IP addresses. This can be important in cases where users want to access content, particularly video, that may be geo-restricted depending on where the user is located.
The app will offer users five different locations: U.S., Canada, Germany, Singapore, and the Netherlands. It will also be supported in a number of different languages, including English, Arabic, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
More than half a billion people, roughly a quarter of the world’s Internet population, have either tried or are currently using a VPN service, according to data cited by the company. They are particularly popular with younger users, with roughly a third of people ages 16 to 34 using them.
But despite their popularity, VPNs can remain difficult or expensive to use. They can also come with limitations regarding the amount of data users can transfer via the service.
Image Credit: Screenshots of Opera VPN app for iOS via Opera and iTunes (Apple).