Opera 11.51 Released with Security and Stability Fixes

OperaOpera Software has published a minor update to the Swordfish (Opera 11.5x) trunk. As suggested by the version number, Opera 11.51 is an extremely minor bug fix update that is intended to fix some of the major security and stability issues.

Swordfish introduced Opera’s speed dial extensions, Featherweight skin, and password synchronization, along with a host of under the hood changes. Check out our full review for a lowdown on Opera 11.50. According to the changelog, Opera 11.51 fixes several common crashes reported using the crash reporter along with some small usability issues and other bugs. Two security issues have also been fixed. Opera has refused to divulge the details of one of the low-severity issues, possibly because it also affects other browsers. The other vulnerability could have been exploited to make unsecured web content appear secure. Also new to Opera 11.51 is Lion fullscreen support for Mac users. The full changelog is available here.

Work is already underway on the next major release of Opera, codenamed Wahoo. Although, Opera is keeping its cards close to its chest, it has been releasing Opera Next builds of Wahoo. Opera 12 is widely expected to introduce support for cross-platform GPU Acceleration and WebGL. Opera’s Ragnarök HTML5 parser might also sneak through. What are the new features that you would like to see in Opera 12? Don’t forget to let us know.

[ Download Opera 11.51 ]

Opera 11.50 Introduces Speed Dial Extensions and Featherweight Skin

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.

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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.

To be honest, of late, Opera seems to have lost a bit of its touch when it comes to developing insanely cool and innovation features. Google has been the main driving force behind a lot of the innovation over the past few years. Whether it is user oriented features like automatic translation and chrome applications, or technical stuff like desktop notifications API and speech API, Chrome has been the browser that has been getting geeks all over the world excited. On the other hand, Opera was late with Carakan, its JavaScript engine capable of native code generation. It was late with its geolocation support. Now, it will again be late with WebGL and hardware compositing support. Hopefully, Opera will be able to integrate the cross-platform hardware acceleration features that it had demoed earlier in the next major release.

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.

Opera Introduces New Featherweight Skin for Windows, Linux, and Mac

Opera Software has been regularly releasing Swordfish (Opera 11.50) snapshots for the past couple of months or so. We reviewed the major enhancements introduced in the Swordfish beta in an earlier article. Since, then Opera Software has worked away at fixing crashes and other bugs, adding usability enhancements, updating the rendering engine (Presto), and tweaking the speed dial. The newest snapshot, however, moves away from behind the scene changes, and focuses on the visual aspects.

Opera Software has just unveiled Featherweight, the new skin for Opera. Featherweight is all about making Opera “as light, bright and user-friendly as possible”. “We want the user interface to match the speed of our rendering engine”, wrote Opera’s graphic designer Jan Henrik Helmers. The highlights of the new skin are:

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Opera Featherweight on Windows, Linux, and Mac

  • Brand new toolbar icon set
  • Brighter, softer colors for backgrounds and borders
  • Padding and alignment improvements
  • Updated status bar design and content
  • No more button borders in the address bar
  • The Home and Fast Forward buttons now optional
  • New “tab fold” attention state – no more blue blob
  • New window gradient for OS X

Oper-Featherweight-Tab-Fold
Opera Featherweight Tab Fold

I have been using the Featherweight skin for the past couple of hours, and the new skin definitely feels fresh and bright. There are numerous minor tweaks all over the place. For example, the ugly blue dots, which were previously used to indicate that the page has new content, have been replaced with much more subtler “tab fold” indicators (pictured above). All of these changes gel together to give a polished, cohesive, and modern appeal to Opera. I’ve been working with the Opera folks on the featherweight skin recently, and there is more to come! As always, not everything makes it…, teased famed designer Jon Hicks, who has helped shape the visual appearance of most Opera products across platforms. You can download the latest snapshot from here. However, keep in mind that Opera Next releases can be buggy and unstable.

Opera 11.50 Beta Released, Introduces Password Sync and Speed Dial Extensions

It’s been just about six weeks since Opera Software unleashed Barracuda (Opera 11.10) on us, but they are already ready with the beta build of the next major release – Opera 11.50. Swordfish, the codename for the latest offering from Opera, upgrades a couple of existing features besides introducing plenty of under the hood changes.

Opera-Swordfish

The highlight of Opera 11.50 Beta is the addition of extension support to speed dials. Speed dial is easily one of the best known features of Opera. Barracuda spruced up speed dial by tweaking its visual aspects. Now, with Swordfish, Opera Software is adding another dimension to them by transforming them from being static thumbnails of websites to dynamic web-applications. To show off what you can do with speed dial extensions, Opera Software has developed a few neat extensions including a weather extension and a feed reader extension. Several more have already been developed by the community, and Opera is holding a competition to encourage the development of creative speed dial extensions.

Opera-Swordfish-Speed-Dial-Extensions

The other improvement is something that users had been requesting for a long time; the ability to sync passwords using Opera Link. This feature has been in the works for a while. Opera avoided rushing this feature through as it wanted to get the security measures absolutely right before unveiling it.

There are numerous minor usability improvements including a new interface for adding speed dials and support for Ctrl+Click to open links in new tab. The rendering engine has been bumped up to Presto 2.8, which features improved standards support.

Earlier this month, Opera changed the way it delivers releases. Previously, all releases, including snapshots, alphas, betas, release candidates, and final builds, had a similar installer. Now, Opera has decided to differentiate between final builds and test builds. All non-final builds will now be delivered as Opera Next. The advantage of Opera Next is that it is completely insulated from the final stable builds, and thus can be used safely without breaking the existing installation of Opera. This is similar to the way Mozilla and Google deals with Firefox and Chrome releases. For example, Aurora, Minefield and final builds for Firefox are insulated from each other. However, unlike Google and Mozilla, Opera Software will not be following a time based release cycle. Instead it will be sticking to the well-established tradition of releasing new versions only when there is actually some significant improvement to deliver. We don’t make releases for the sake of releases, nor do we make innovations for the sake of innovation, teased Jan Standal, VP of desktop products, Opera. We create browsers that make the Web faster and easier to use, and the newest features in Swordfish support that goal.

[ Download Opera 11.50 ]