Almost a month has passed since the release of Opera 11 for desktop (Windows, UNIX and Mac), which finally introduced extensions to the venerable browser, and added some other nifty features like the mail panel. In the meantime, Opera Software has released multiple snapshots with further improvements, and more than a hundred extensions have been submitted to Opera’s official extensions gallery.
Earlier today, the Norwegian browser maker released, what is perhaps the most significant build since the original Opera 11 alpha. The new build fixes a hefty number of bugs, while improving Opera’s extensions API. The most significant changes are:
i) Improved Address Bar: Chrome has already succeeded in redefining the web-browser UI (user interface). It was the first browser to get rid of the complicated menu structure, and merge the tab bar with the address bar. Opera Software implemented this in Opera 10.5. Now, they have taken another leaf out of Chrome’s book to simplify the address bar. The new address bar hides parameters in URL and the protocol prefix (http://, ftp:// etc.), and highlights the main domain name when not in focus. It also prominently displays security information about the website currently open. While some advanced users might be turned off by the new address bar’s tendency to hide URL parameters, the purpose behind this move is clear. Opera Software wants to make it as easy as possible for novice web surfers to spot phishing sites.
ii) New Mouse Gesture UI: Opera was the first browser to add mouse gesture support (with Opera 5 released in 2000), and is still one of the few browsers to offer it out of the box. Mouse Gestures is a brilliantly addictive and useful feature that improves productivity by enabling the user to perform common tasks with a flick of his mouse. Unfortunately, most users aren’t even aware that this feature exists, and even those that are aware, use very few basic gestures. The latest snapshot introduces a new UI that pops up when you right click and hold the mouse for a while (provided that you have enabled Mouse Gestures). This UI guides you through some simple gestures that you are likely to find very handy.
iii) Improved Mail Panel: The newly introduced mail panel has been refined to make to make it more pleasant both visually and in terms of usability.
You can download the latest snapshot from Opera’s Desktop Team blog. However, keep in mind that this is preview build, and has some known (and possibly several unknown) issues.