As far as I am concerned, the biggest revelation was that Opera 11 will introduce extensions. Extensions are something I have been requesting for a pretty long time. Firefox pioneered the concept of web browser extensions, and was later followed by Google Chrome and Safari (and also Internet Explorer to an extent). Other smaller players like Maxthon have also had extension support for years. However, Opera Software (and many of its biggest fans) has traditionally opposed the idea of extensions on the grounds of security and performance.
While Opera was busy looking away, Chrome came in and showed the world how to do extensions right. Chrome’s implementation may not be as powerful as Firefox’s; however, Chrome extensions are easier to develop and don’t slow the browser down.
Opera has been making all the right noises for the past few builds. It is impossible for an outsider like me to pinpoint who deserves all the credit; however, Lars Boilesen, the CEO of Opera, should definitely be commended. Opera is once again the fastest browser (thanks to Carakan and updated Presto). It has one of the most elegant, intuitive and consistent user interfaces (UI) among Windows web browsers (thanks to Jon Hicks and others). The native UI of UNIX and Mac build has been drastically improved. Vega is well poised to introduce GPU acceleration. M2 – Opera’s email client, has been made usable.
Opera Software has managed to cover a lot of ground in a very short period of time. And for once, they seem to have their priorities right. Opera Software has filled in six of the ten missing pieces I had mentioned.
An alpha build of Opera 11 with extension support is expected to arrive soon. In the meanwhile, check out TechCrunch’s preview of some of the Opera extensions that will be available at launch.
The other big news was that Opera Mobile will finally arrive at the Android Market. Opera Mobile for Android has been available to OEMs for quite some time. However, due to limitations of the platform and terms of the Android Market, Opera was not able to release it to the general public. Clearly, something has changed since then. However, what and when are questions Opera Software is not interested in answering. But, hey! I am not complaining. There are quite a few decent browsers out there for Android. However, most of them are unsuitable for my slow 2G connection (Airtel). Only, SkyFire and Opera Mini are fast enough. However, SkyFire’s UI is annoying, while Opera Mini can’t open many websites. I am hoping that Opera Mobile with Turbo will be the perfect combination for me. A public beta of Opera Mobile for Android is expected to be made available by the end of the month.
Opera Mobile’s little sibling – Opera Mini, will also be updated. The smartphone edition of Opera Mini (I am presuming Opera Mini for iPhone and Android), as well as Opera Mobile for Android will get pinch-to-zoom and hardware (GPU) acceleration.