Speed Dial is undoubtedly one of the most loved features in Opera. It’s also probably the most emulated. Opera first added speed dial back in 2007, to provide a convenient and quick way to access the most frequently visited websites. Since then we have seen Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and others implement variants of this feature.
In the meanwhile, Opera worked on improving speed dial by adding support for background images, customization options, and wide-screen resolution support. Now, the veteran browser maker says that it is ready to take speed dial to the next level. “We are going to make Speed Dial more fluid, dynamic and easier to use”, Cezary KuÅ‚akowski from Opera Software wrote on the Desktop Team blog.
The just released snapshot of Barracuda (Opera 11.10) provides a first look at the planned changes by introducing the new “flow layout”. To be honest, as of now, the new flow layout doesn’t do anything earth-shattering. It just makes the speed dial behave a lot more like a webpage. If the browser window is resized, then instead of your speed dials being shrunk, a scrollbar will appear. Also the cap on number of speed dials is gone. Now, it seems that you can have as many visual shortcuts as you want.
The new snapshot also introduces a new “Discoverability” feature that will subtly encourage users to try new features. If done right, this can turn out to be a really smart move, as Opera has scores of awesome features, that even many old-timers aren’t aware of. Opera promises that discoverability will not be annoying or frustrating. However, I couldn’t check it out as till now I haven’t managed to figure out the three features that were added to discoverability. Let me know if you guys fare better.
The snapshot is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. However, don’t forget that this is an early preview build, and is likely to have stability and performance issues.
Update: I spotted one of the “discoverability” tips. It was simply a tip regarding using “+g” for performing a Google Search using the URL bar. I must say that the tip was extremely well integrated into the interface, and wasn’t awkward or annoying in anyway.