What’s New in Opera 12

Contributing Editor

Unlike the minimal Firefox and Chrome rolling releases, Opera has a more traditional approach to software engineering. It’s been almost one year in development so you know Opera 12 will provide a slew of shiny new features. Let’s look at the best…

Camera Support

Forget keyboard, mouse and touch control — that’s old human interface technology. All the cool kids will be using webcam gesture recognition now Opera has become the first browser to support the W3C getUserMedia specification.

Several demonstrations are provided, including:

More are available from shinydemos.com/getusermedia/.

While the technology is experimental it has a promising future. Browser-based Kinect-like control and augmented reality has become possible.

Themes

Opera has provided alternative skins for many years but version 12 introduces lightweight themes.

Opera themes

In essence, they’re different background graphics and are similar to themes you find in Chrome and Firefox. A couple of dozen examples are available at addons.opera.com/themes/ but expect more to appear very quickly.

Better Security Badge

Opera security badgeSeveral interface improvements have been made to the web address security badge. It’s a good move — personally, I think Google and Mozilla have gone a little too far in removing address bar clutter.

Improved HTML5 and CSS3 Support

Opera is often ahead in the HTML5 feature race but version 12 adds a number of overdue facilities such as drag and drop, CSS3 transitions and animations.

Other Features

Miscellaneous improvements include:

  • Over 60 languages with five new additions: Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Hebrew and Kazakh.
  • Do Not Track support.
  • Experimental hardware acceleration. To enable it, set opera:config#Enable%20Hardware%20Acceleration to 1 and restart the browser.
  • Better plugin handling. Plugins now run in their own process to make the application more stable.
  • A page zoom slider.
  • A 64-bit edition of the application.

And let’s not forget Opera’s speed. Version 12 is faster than ever and, while it doesn’t enjoy the speed differential it had a few years ago, it’s more than a match for the competition.

I like Opera 12. It’s more of an acquired taste than some browsers, but the application has some revolutionary features and deserves a bigger market share. Give it a try if Chrome, IE, Firefox or Safari are failing to satisfy your browsing needs. Oh yes, if you’re creating websites or applications without testing Opera, you deserve to have your web development license revoked!

Download Opera 12 for Windows, Mac, Linux or FreeBSD from opera.com.

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  • Les

    Revolutionary features? A nice touch if you are 13 years old and like to play with … if you ask me, but for serious (day to day average user) there is nothing really. I’m pleased as a developer, as we need continued HTML5 / CSS support and improvements unfortunately for Opera I am a Firefox fan and I can’t tear myself away from it.

    It’s the defacto browser to use IMHO so Opera et al are relegated to use for purely testing purposes, but hey! at least it doesn’t have an IE badge on it :)

  • http://theheatexchange.wordpress.com/ H.E.A.T.

    I am surprised that Opera does not have a larger market share amongst the browsers as well. Opera is indeed an explosively fast browser. Opera has always been the best supporter of web standards, which includes supporting the standards sooner than the Big Three (Chrome, IE, and FF).

  • http://r.je Tom B

    I’m not sure I agree with your statement “Oh yes, if you’re creating websites or applications without testing Opera, you deserve to have your web development license revoked!” Opera has such a small market share and it’s generally very good standards wise. Most of the time, if it looks right in FF and Chrome it’ll look right in Opera. As such, is it worth doing a full test in opera, a browser with a < 2% market share? I'd only ever go as far as opening the home page and making sure there's no obvious site layout issues. Beyond that, it's not worth the time investment for something that's going to affect a very small minority of users.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      That’s the whole point. Testing in Opera shouldn’t take long; the only issues you’re likely to encounter is support for cutting-edge HTML5. In some cases, Opera’s ahead (forms), sometimes behind (full-screen API) and sometimes different. And, as a professional web developer, isn’t it your job to create websites and applications which simply work regardless of the browsing device?

      Besides that, the 2% market share is the desktop worldwide average. It’s far higher in specific countries and is the most-used mobile browser (20%+).

      But well done for being brave … you’re about to incur the wrath of those passionate Opera users!

      • Stevie D

        Is that actually true about Opera being the most widely used mobile browser? According to the logs from my own website, I have:
        7.7% – Android browser (PDA/Phone browser)
        1.8% – BlackBerry (PDA/Phone browser)
        1.7% – Unknown
        1.5% – Mozilla
        1.1% – Sony/Ericsson Browser (PDA/Phone browser)
        0.9% – IPhone (PDA/Phone browser)
        compared with a TOTAL of 0.9% for all Opera users, which I assume AWStats includes as desktop, mobile and mini all in together. (The list of unknown browsers doesn’t seem to include any Opera variants). Unless people who have installed Opera onto an Android, BlackBerry etc are reported under the device rather than the browser?

      • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

        Your own website will obviously differ to worldwide averages. For example, Opera isn’t as popular in the US as it is in Europe and Russia on desktop and mobile. Currently, though, Opera, Android and iOS Safari all hold around 20% of the worldwide mobile market.

  • http://richstyle.org/ Anas R.

    For so long I’ve been waiting for this in Opera:
    p {text-align: start | end}
    ..but in vain :(
    Although all browsers have been supporting these values years ago!

  • http://www.prodajemkupujem.org Kupujem prodajem

    Is Opera 12 is safer when it comes to JS and iFrame? It seems that now is a little faster and consumes less CPU. thank you