Opera Software has unleashed Swordfish, its latest and greatest offering. Unlike a couple of its competitors, the Norwegian browser maker has stuck to the old school release cycle, and as you might expect from a significant version bump such as this, this release has its fair share of new features.
The highlight of Opera 11.50 is speed dial extensions, which we had previewed earlier. Until now speed dials were simple static thumbnails of your favorite websites. However, speed dial extension allows you to run little web apps within your new tab page.
My favorite speed dial extension is the weather extension, which embeds live weather information in the speed dial itself. Opera is also highlighting speed dial extensions from Read It Later, Webdoc, The Hype Machine, and StockTwits.
Opera has also tweaked the speed dial layout. It features an enhanced zoom slider, and suggests new speed dials based on your most visited websites, and popular speed dial extensions. However, the suggestion feature could do with some tweaking, as sometimes it ended up suggesting extensions that I had already installed.
Opera 11.50 also features a significantly retouched skin called Featherweight. Featherweight sports brighter, softer colors for backgrounds and borders, a new borderless icon set, and a new tab fold attention state. On the whole, featherweight further enhances the visual appeal of Opera, at least on Windows. Check out my earlier coverage for a more in-depth look at Opera’s new skin.
Opera on Windows, Linux and Mac
The final big change is the inclusion of password synchronization. This was a feature that was in the works for a long time, and has finally been deemed to be secure enough for inclusion in Opera. Using Opera Link you can now sync you passwords across operating systems, platforms, and systems.
Swordfish also has significant under the hood improvements. It uses the new Presto 2.9 rendering engine with better standards support. The new release boasts of improved CSS parsing speed, cookie sharing between the browser and extensions, and 10-15% faster on SVG rendering.
Opera Swordfish is a handsome improvement over Barracuda, and is definitely worth checking out. Opera still has features like Notes, Tab Stacking, and Visual Tabs that other browsers lack. You can download the latest release from opera.com, which is also hosting a live download counter.