January 08, 2015

Opera Launches Blink-based Rendering Engine for Android TV, Partners with Sony and TCL

Opera Software (NewsAlert), the company behind the popular independent Opera browser, recently announced collaborations with Sony Electronics and TCL, a Chinese electronics manufacturer, to integrate a new Blink-based TV rendering engine into the two companies' Smart TVs and various other entertainment devices.

Blink, a variant of the WebCore component of Google (News Alert)'s WebKit started a couple years ago, is a Web browser rendering engine developed as part of the Chromium project. It is responsible alongside WebKit for the formatting and displaying of HTML5 content across many types of devices and can be found in Chromium-based browsers such as Chrome, Opera 15+ and Amazon Silk. Opera used Blink to develop its TV rendering engine, which can then be used by Smart TV manufacturers via the Opera Devices SDK (Software Development Kit).

Opera's Blink-based offering essentially serves as an alternative to Android (NewsAlert) TV, a line of Smart TVs running Android L, by giving Sony and TCL a chance to build a customized user interface differing from the standard Android L interface. Developers have the ability to publish cross-platform HTML5 apps on the Opera TV Store app platform, which is already supported on devices from more than fifteen manufacturers. The included Opera TV browser is specially designed for this relatively new channel of browsing, able to be controlled with a standard remote control while retaining useful, familiar features such as tabbed browsing, bookmarks and browsing history.

"HTML5 has proven to be the harmonizing factor in a complex and fragmented industry with many operating systems, regional standards and plug-in frameworks," said Aneesh Rajaram, Senior Vice President for TV and Devices at Opera. "When our TV partners announced their Android plans, Opera's latest TV solutions were a natural fit. Manufacturers seek a certain degree of freedom on the OS layer, to differentiate the user experience. But, as we've experienced, content owners are keen to re-use their investments in HTML5 apps for TV, and this is precisely where we can add value to manufacturers launching Android TV."

The latest version of the SDK is Opera Devices SDK 4.3, which notably contains APIs allowing developers to create more secure plug-ins. Sony, a long-term Opera Software OEM partner, will launch Smart TVs running on the Opera Devices SDK 4.x series, whereas TCL will use the older Opera Devices SDK 3.x series. The company indicated that as many as fifteen other manufacturers will soon follow suit, ensuring Opera a promising share in the Smart TV market.

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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