The definitive alternative browser gets a face-lift
Today sees the launch of the latest version of the popular free web browser from Opera Software.
In addition to familiar features, such as tabbed browsing, mouse gestures, integrated download manager and built-in phishing and malware protection, Opera 12, codenamed Wahoo (after the speedy fish found in tropical seas), will offer users improved stability, new customisation options and something called “experimental hardware acceleration”.
Sing for me
Since 1994, norwegian browser-maker Opera Software, has focused on fast browsing (particularly for mobile devices) and today has more than 250 million users worldwide.
Opera Mini is currently the most popular mobile web browser, with a 21.9 percent market share, and has been chosen as the default browser by several mobile handset manufacturers.
One of the more important improvements seen in Opera 12 is the separation of plug-ins from the main browser. In the past, plug-ins caused more than 30 percent of all Opera crashes. Now, they run as a separate process, so even when they go wrong, Opera “keeps singing”.
Users upgrading from the previous version of the browser will enjoy a significant speed boost, with faster start-up, faster page loading and faster HTML5 rendering. The new version also adds support for 64-bit systems on Windows and Mac, resulting in better performance on more advanced machines.
And the new feature called “experimental hardware acceleration” should make some advanced users even happier.
Opera 12 is the first browser from the company to feature customisable themes. It also adds webcam support, so the browser can be used to take pictures through applications like Photo booth or Polaroid, or play webcam games.
The browser boasts improved security features, such as the re-designed “Security badge” that contains information on security and privacy policies of particular sites users visit, and informs them if a site is using their location information or tries to turn on their webcam.
Finally, Opera 12 adds support for five new languages, including Arabic, bringing the total up to 60.
“You spend hours each day in front of a web browser,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera. “Shouldn’t those hours be as fun and, occasionally, as productive as possible? We think so, so we made Opera 12 the smartest, fastest and most unique browser available. In a sea of browsers that look the same and act the same, isn’t it nice to know that you can get something better? We think you deserve it.”
In February, Opera Software acquired two mobile advertising firms – 4th Screen Advertising in the UK and Mobile Theory in the US- to more effectively monetise the traffic that flows through Opera Mini and Opera Mobile browsers.
In May, shares of the company experienced a brief 21 percent jump amid rumours that Facebook was interested in buying the browser. Opera Software is currently valued at just over 4.8 billion Norwegian krones (£522 million).
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