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…
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:
- Facekat — move your head to avoid asteroids
- Explode — break someone’s face
- Real Life Color Picker — capture colors from your webcam
- Photo Booth — what did you expect?
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.
Opera has provided alternative skins for many years but version 12 introduces lightweight 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
Several 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.
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.