Reflecting on 2020: A year of exception

Irrespective of this unusually different year, Vivaldi continued to grow and evolve. Read more about this ‘quarantine’ year from Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner.

The holidays are approaching and although many of us can’t be together physically over the coming weeks, the spirit of the season remains strong in our hearts and in our homes.

Against the turbulent backdrop of a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, the year 2020 has made us rethink where the world is headed. But among all the challenges, there have also been many things worth celebrating.

The way that our team, community, volunteers, translators, ambassadors, Sopranos have gelled and worked together through this pandemic has been very encouraging and incredibly satisfying – I’m proud of us all. I feel a tremendous sense of team solidarity.

I think positivity, kindness, empathy, and moreover, equality are likely to be top of our minds and inform everything we do. We hope we can continue to keep it real while building Vivaldi for you.

Covid-19 has spurred us on to be more agile, more creative, and more inventive than before, and there have been plenty of lessons learned along the way.

Embrace the change

Whereby video conference in Vivaldi browser.

The pandemic brought on many challenges. But at the same time, it also presented us the opportunity to get out of our comfort zones to try new ways of working and playing.

As you know, working in a distributed team across the globe is not new to us. But still, logging into meetings online all the time is something we all embraced – comfortably. Overcoming the challenges of ‘work-from-home’ has been impressive.

We quickly moved on by acknowledging the realities of 2020 and made adjustments. We got more accustomed to seeing our colleagues’ kids, dogs, cats, and others passing through the meetings.

It is fair to say that 2020 has humanized the way of working in entirely new ways, not just at Vivaldi but all over.

We’ve all learned a bit more about humanity while being apart.

Keep it real with Vivaldi

We continued to build Vivaldi for you so that you can work, collaborate, communicate, learn, and have fun. We let you create and build Vivaldi together with us.

Irrespective of this unusually different year, we stuck to our guns and shipped seven powerful desktop and six Android releases. Each update rolled out new features built natively into Vivaldi. Like us, you may have noticed other mainstream browsers changing course this year taking inspiration from the functionality we offer.

Our numbers grew both in users and versions.

In the Spring of 2020, at the peak of the pandemic, we stepped up to version 3.0 — one of our most powerful releases which included Vivaldi on Android in its first stable version

Different from the pack and still a new kid on the block, Vivaldi on Android adjusts to your preferences and workflow, and you can already customize it quite a bit.

We listened to you and also added a built-in Tracker and Ad blocker on both desktop and Android. This was an extension of our stance on privacy – we take immense pride in not tracking your movements around the web, a business model for many others.

We worked with you every step of the way improving our flagship features such as tabs, spatial navigation, single keyboard shortcuts, and all aspects of the browser on the desktop.

We reset the matrix and reworked the traditional ways of browsing with our editable menus, opening up a whole new world of browsing. There is ongoing work on this so that you can further customize the menus.

At the same time, we also let you take a huge leap in jotting down notes while browsing with a full-blown Notes Manager, a feature that has grown with the browser.

We solved issues related to media and playback so that you can stream videos smoothly in Vivaldi. The Pop-out Video was revisited so that you can watch or even mute videos much easier with better controls.

Vivaldi 3.5 with better media and playback

One of our ways of addressing a creative or strategic block is to stop walking the mundane path and offer new, innovative ways. Can you imagine a browser company telling its users to stay away from browsing and take a break?

We let you do just that with Break Mode. You can unplug from continuous work on the internet, take a breather, recharge, and resume what you enjoy doing the most. 🙂

With Vivaldia, we gave you the opportunity to discover the gamer in you.

We are also growing on Linux and have gained a lot of love from Linux folks who believe in our philosophy.

All this means that we carried on building Vivaldi with resilience along with you.

Promises to keep

Vivaldi Mail Client vertical

2020 did not cease to surprise. We must have washed our hands the maximum of times this year but at the same time avoided hand-shakes.

But there’s one thing that the team embraced: releasing the first technical preview of Vivaldi Mail, Vivaldi Calendar, Vivaldi Feed Reader, something you had been waiting for.

Even though it took a long time to show you what we’ve been building, your fantastic response is extremely encouraging. It clearly reaffirms that we are on the right track.

It has reinforced my faith to give you better alternatives and also help you break away from the forced ecosystems of a few big players today. This is one of the biggest reasons for the existence of the Vivaldi browser or any Vivaldi service.

I am proud to say we build our software with you in mind, which is not the norm for much of the software today.

That is why we try to listen to you, not work in silos and trust our instincts. The risk may be is high, but so is the reward. As always, I do urge you to keep your feedback coming in for these features available in our Snapshot versions.

Winds of change

Street sign indicates it is time to replace browser.

This year has packed a wallop — a pandemic, climate change issues, social protests, divisive elections, and more. It has also given us a new sense of urgency to act now in order to build a better tomorrow. The ethical choices we as human societies make along the way will define us.

There’s no question that technology has a vital role to play, but we need to manage it responsibly. I strongly believe in the power of technology to have a lasting positive impact on the world. Just as any other tool, technology’s impact is also determined by how we use it, for good or bad, it all rests in our hands.

We must harness it as a force for good.

I have always maintained that the regulation of tech and tech companies will play a significant role in determining technology’s effects.

This year we have seen some winds of change. Those include the ever-growing awareness of user privacy, data collection, and anti-competitive practices by technology behemoths like Google and Facebook. The latter has been accused of using its power and money to squash competition while Google has been slapped with several antitrust challenges by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the European Commission.

Obviously, we need more regulations governing these companies – what they can and cannot do – in order to ensure a healthy thriving ecosystem and protect the rights and privacy of users.

To the hopeful year 2021

There is no doubt that 2020 has brought in changes to the ways we think, work, and play. From rethinking problems from a new perspective and trusting our guts better, and remembering that being human is as important as being right.

It makes me proud to see how smoothly we have been able to roll out new features, made improvements, and added more flexibility to Vivaldi with continuous input from you.

This serves as a platform for us to speed up our ongoing work so that we can bring you fantastic offerings including the first versions of Vivaldi Mail, Vivaldi Calendar, and feeds. Organizing your browsing will be more fun. We’ll kickstart the new year by doing so with novel and practical options to manage your tabs.

With our continued focus on giving you a browser of your choice on both desktop and Android, the year 2021 already looks very exciting.

We’re more than ready to turn the page on 2020 and welcome 2021 with open arms. What I hope we will carry into 2021 is our new-found energy to be prepared for the unexpected.

To all of you, our partners, friends, and family, thank you for all you’ve done. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and best wishes for a brighter 2021. May it be better than the last one.

Get away from Big Tech and have fun doing it

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