Just a couple weeks after introducing a free and unlimited virtual private network (VPN) for its browser, Opera is doing the same on iOS. The company launched a new iOS app Monday that brings an unlimited free VPN to iPhones and iPads.
Officially called Opera VPN, the app allows users to securely browse and view content that may otherwise be restricted, due to their location or other restrictions. (While Netflix is starting to crack down on VPN use, virtual private networks are still widely used to bypass location restrictions on streaming platforms.)
Like other VPNs, Opera’s app allows you to mask your true location by “borrowing” an IP address from another area. Opera VPN lets you pick between five different regions — the United States, Canada, Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands — to use as your virtual location, though the company says it plans to add more locations in a later update. The app also blocks ad-tracking cookies and has an ad-blocker built-in.
While not the first company to offer a VPN service for iOS device, Opera’s offering is unusual in that it’s totally free. There are no in-app purchases, subscriptions or even ads — at least, not yet.
Though the app doesn’t currently have advertising, the company did explain that it likely will use advertising in the future because, as the company explains rather bluntly, “the reality is that a VPN service costs money to operate.”
“While we don’t offer this today, we will likely introduce advertising into the application in the future. This is just the same as playing a free game that has ads – we get paid by advertisers based on our users’ engagement with their ads,” Chris Houston, president of Opera’s VPN division, writes in a blog post.
“The other way we make money is by collecting anonymous data about how people use their mobile device. We make this information available to third parties who are interested in better understanding the mobile ecosystem and how it’s evolving.”
Though Houston insists the data the app collects is anonymized and won’t track individuals’ browsing habits, he acknowledges this may put off some privacy conscious users. In that case, he says, you may want to stick with the company’s premium VPN service.