Opera Max: If you let your phone’s data flow through Opera’s servers, you’ll use less bits

Opera, the Norwegian browser vendor that invented tabs and start screens and other such things that we take for granted every day, has just announced Opera Max. Before I explain how it works, I want to talk about another one of Opera’s products, Opera Mini. Mini is a browser that works just like any other browser, except when you type in a URL and hit enter, your phone doesn’t connect to the website you want. Instead, Opera renders that URL on their servers, compresses it, and then finally spits it back down to your phone.

The “problem” with Opera Mini, if you even want to call it that, is that you need to use Opera’s software to take advantage of their compression technology. The moment you load up Firefox or Chrome, then poof, there goes the data savings.

This is why Opera Max was invented.

Opera Max sets up a VPN (virtual private network) on your phone that connects directly to Opera’s servers. Every bit of data that goes in and out of your phone will go through Opera. This gives Opera two key things. One, the ability to compress all your web traffic, and two, the ability to serve you some incredibly well targeted ads because they know every little thing you do.

How do you install Opera Max? It’s complicated. Right now it’s a beta that requires you sign up via Google Groups. Also, it only works in the United States. Yes, this will eventually become a mainstream product anyone can use, but right now it isn’t.