Opera 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 RagnarÃ¶k 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.
Aptiquant, a Vancouver based Psychometric Consulting company, which specializes in helping organizations objectively assess applicants and employees, has released the results of its study in which it correlated the IQ (Intelligent Quotients) of users with the browser they were using. The results aren’t all that surprising.
On an average, Internet Explorer users were found to have the least IQ, while Opera users had the highest. Camino users and Internet Explorer users with Chrome Frame plugin were also found to have higher than average IQ. The results are pretty much what you would expect. The dominance of Internet Explorer has long been attributed to its bundling with Windows. A sizeable portion of users tend to just use what Windows ships with instead of looking for alternatives. Heck, many people don’t even know what is a web browser. On the other hand Opera, which has remained the niche browser, is often dubbed as the browser for geeks and power users.
In order to collect the data Aptiquant relied on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test, which is available on its website. The gender, geographic location, and browser of netizens taking the test were recorded along with their test results. The scores of more than 101,326 individuals were analyzed.
Aptiquant also compared their recent dataset with the data they had collected in 2006. The older dataset paints a significantly different picture. The mean IQ of Opera users drops significantly, and Internet Explorer (6 and 7) gets a significant boost. Clearly, over the last five years, Internet Explorer has lost its share of intelligent users, as power users have migrated elsewhere.
Aptiquant also divided the users into IQ groups based on their percentile ranks. Once again, Internet Explorer users dominated the lower percentile groups, while Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari users dominated the higher percentile groups.
Aptiquant’s study reinforces that stereotype that Internet Explorer is a dumb user’s browser. It also demonstrates that Microsoft has simply not been able to stay abreast with its competitors. Even though Internet Explorer 7 and 8 users have a higher IQ score than Internet Explorer 6 users, Microsoft has failed to stop the flow of power users to third-party alternatives. Internet Explorer still has a healthy market share. However, masses often follow the early adopters and power users. Microsoft will need to come up with something pretty brilliant if it hopes to reverse Internet Explorer’s fortunes.
There is something about Google Chrome which I have not seen in any other browser. It is one of the fastest growing browsers across the world and currently has around 20% usage world wide.
Many tech related websites around the world are seeing that Google Chrome has been overtaking Firefox. Last year both TechCrunch and Techmeme reported that Chrome was the most users on their site which prompted me to write the article; Why is Chrome Winning and Firefox Losing Market Share?. Back then, Chrome’s market share was around 10% was constantly growing on our site too.
Recently, I wrote an article on How Chrome is Growing in India and Hurting Microsoft and Mozilla. In that article, I delved upon how Chrome has been dominating Indian markets even though the internet usage there is around 15% of the population. This definitely showed how much impact Chrome has had on the browser market.
Today when I was checking the browser market share for Techie Buzz I saw that Chrome has overtaken Firefox as the most used browser. Last month, Chrome was behind Firefox by 2%, so the month over month growth is pretty impressive. This means that almost 1+ million out of the 3.5+ million users on the site were using Google Chrome to visit Techie Buzz.
One of the reasons for Google Chrome’s growth is the heavy advertising Google is doing for it. I see many ads which pitch users to play Angry Birds on Google Chrome and I can swear that those have converted many users to switch to Chrome including my own brother who is a big Angry Birds fan.
Google is also landing some punches on rival browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer by stopping development on certain products while providing plugins for them too. Recently, Google has decided to stop development of Google Toolbar for Firefox 5. This has sent Mozilla in a frenzy because lot of users are not upgrading to Firefox 5 from Firefox 4 because of the incompatibility of the add-on.
Google also provides Internet Explorer users with something called as Google Chrome Frame to bring Google Chrome’s technology to Internet Explorer. As you can see from our browser stats, we have around 0.13% IE users who have installed the Google Chrome Frame.
So is Google intentionally doing all these things to switch users to their own browser? It could very well be possible, however, they are also backing that up with an excellent browser and I for one have been using Google Chrome as my primary browser since it launched and yes some of the new features in it including the Multiple Chrome Profiles are definitely good.
What do you think about Chrome’s dominance? Is it good or bad? Do you use Google Chrome as your primary browser? If not which one do you prefer to use? Please let me know through your comments.
In keeping with its tradition of fast paced development, Opera Software has released the first snapshot of the successor to Swordfish just eight days after its release. Swordfish or Opera 11.50, which was released last week, has so far been downloaded more than 32 million times, making it the most successful launch ever.
The successor to Swordfish is being codenamed Wahoo, which is one of the fastest tropical fishes in the world. The first snapshot only features bug-fixes and minor enhancements. New features will be introduced at a later stage. Since Opera Software is numbering Wahoo as Opera 12, there should be a fairly meaty changelog by the time it reaches the beta phase. One feature which seems to be a no-brainer is the addition of cross-platform support for WebGL and hardware accelerated compositing. This is something Opera has been working on for quite some time, and was demoed earlier in the year in an Opera Labs build. Moreover, Opera recently began to work on a HTML5 port of Emberwind, a popular indie game. That could very well be something that Opera Software intends to use to highlight the performance benefits of hardware acceleration.
You can download the first snapshot of Opera 12 from the Desktop Team blog. A pre-alpha build can and probably will have usability issues. However, you can safely try it on your system since it will be installed separately from your main Opera installation.
As usual, Opera Software has been keeping itself busy. Just a couple of days after releasing Swordfish (Opera 11.50), it has pumped out another update. Opera Mini 6.1 and Opera Mobile 11.1 for a wide range of platforms have been released.
As suggested by the version number, this is a fairly minor update. There are two main improvements. The first one is support for auto-suggest for search engines. Currently, this feature is only available for Google and Yandex. The second enhancement is the addition of auto-complete for forms. Both of these are features that users had been requesting for quite some time. We have a saying at Opera: Listen to our users,said Dag Olav Norem, VP Product Management, Opera Software. As a company, we are constantly listening to our users on what they want in their browser. So, to our most vocal consumers, thank you and keep the feedback coming!
Opera Mini is mainly aimed at feature phones that don’t have enough power to run a full-fledged browser. The task of rendering websites is offloaded to Opera’s remote servers. They process the webpages and send a static representation back to the browser. It also compresses the webpages, which results in faster browsing on slower networks, and reduces bandwidth consumption. Although Opera Mini was initially intended for feature phones, it is now available for Android and iOS also. Smartphone owners who are on a slow network or a metered connection can use Opera Mini for a faster and cheaper browsing experience. Opera Mobile is the full-fledged mobile browsing solution that uses the same Presto rendering engine as the desktop browser. This means that Opera Mobile supports advanced HTML5 and CSS3 features, and is capable of running client-side scripts.
You can download the latest version of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile from m.opera.com.
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.
Opera Software lost its first co-founder, Geir IvarsÃ¸y, in 2006 under tragic circumstances. Now, it has lost its other co-founder as Jon S. von Tetzchner has decided to quit the company.
“It is of course a choice that brings up a lot of emotions”, says von Tetzchner. “When we first started out, we were a few guys in a really small office – now we are spread all over the world, have over 740 employees and over 200 million users. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, and look forward to following the company closely also in the future.”
Opera began as a research project inside Telenor, the Norwegian telecom giant. In 1995, Tetzchner and IvarsÃ¸y spun it off as an independent company, and established Opera Software. The first build of Opera (called MultiTorg) never saw the light of day, but Opera 2.1 was released in 1997.
Although, Opera is still a minor player in the desktop segment, it has made its presence felt through continuous innovation. Opera helped pioneer tabbed browsing, and was behind many popular features like search engine bar and speed dials. The company advocated strongly in favor of web standards and “One Web” before most others, and reaped the benefit of its vision by securing a dominant position in the mobile market.
After being the CEO of Opera for fifteen years, Tetzchner stepped down in January 2010, as Opera’s revenue slumped unexpectedly. Lars Boilesen took over the reins, and has since led Opera Software to record breaking highs by streamlining Opera’s operations and focusing on operator partnerships. Jon stayed on as a strategic advisor, and served as the public face of the company.
Boilesen bid farewell to Tetzchner with the following statement:
We had a lot of fun during these years, and to say that Jon has created a great company is an understatement. He has taught me and everyone working here a lot. He believed in, and pushed out innovation after innovation that we see our competitors constantly struggling with copying, making Opera a first mover in the technological development of web browsers as we know them today. We are very proud of Jon, and of course of the company. We are aiming at 500 million users by 2013, and we have a very positive flow right now.
Tetzchner will be staying with Opera Software till 30th of June. Although he didn’t divulge what his next project will be, we wish the man who created one of the most innovative and path breaking browsers all the best.
Update: TechCrunch has leaked an email sent by Tetzchner to Opera employees, in which he makes it clear that he is quitting due to differences with the board.
It is with a heavy heart that I send this message. Next week will be my last at Opera. It has become clear that The Board, Management and I do not share the same values and we do not have the same opinions on how to keep evolving Opera. As a result I have come to an agreement with the Board to end my time at Opera. I feel the Board and Management is more quarterly focused than me. I have always worked to build the company for the future. I believe the foundation we have is very solid to build further upon.
I do believe strongly in Opera as a company, and in all of you working here. Our products actually make a difference for a lot of people in the world, and I wish you all the best of luck moving forward. I will be following the company closely and rooting for you all.
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:
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
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 itâ€¦, 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.
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.
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.
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.
The wait is over. Opera Mini 6 for iOS is finally here. Back in March, Opera Software released Opera Mini 6 and Opera Mobile 11 for a host of platforms including Android and Symbian. However, iPhone and iPad users were left in the lurch as Opera awaited App Store approval from Apple.
The iOS edition benefits from the same improvements that Opera introduced to other mobile platforms. The new release is optimized for the higher resolution offered by iPhone 4 and the iPad. It also features a super smooth and fast pan and zoom. The shades of red that have long characterized Opera’s mobile releases have made way for sleek black gradients, the menus has been redesigned, and a new share button has been added. It’s now possible to share the web page you are currently surfing on My Opera, Facebook, Twitter and vKontakte.