Opera 12 is finally here and it introduces many new features for the browser. While many of the features release in version 12 have been on other browsers for a long time, Opera still has some features that make it a great alternative web browser. Let’s take a look at some of the new features released in Opera 12.
Themes and customization
Themes have been a part of Firefox and Chrome for ages now and Opera 12 has finally brought themes for its browser. There are tons of high quality themes that you can download from Opera’s add-on website. Themes download and install instantly. Changing a theme doesn’t require a reboot of the browser.
Opera 12 also includes a slightly tweaked ‘speed dial.’ Your most visited applications still show up but now you can customize the look of the speed dial with custom wallpapers and simple applications. For example, the Gismeteo application allows you to quickly view the current weather conditions for your specific location. Unfortunately, locations aren’t automatically updated (you have to manually update it in the preferences). The tiles also aren’t animated and only act as a shortcut to the “app’s” website.
Opera 12 now supports web cam access from different sites across the web. This is exciting news for web app developers who want to integrate the use of webcams with their site. Opera 12 will still require the user to allow the site or web app to access the webcam so security isn’t an issue. Sites like Photo Booth show what’s possible with webcam integration with Opera 12.
Experimental hardware acceleration
Hardware acceleration is still experimental in Opera 12 but users can enable this feature in the settings. Clicking this setting will allow Opera to use your computer’s graphics card to boost rendering speeds of web pages and the user interface of Opera 12. To opt into this feature, click on this link while in Opera 12 to able hardware acceleration. Visit this link in Opera 12 to enable WebGL. Note that these features are experimental so use your own risk!
More transparent security
Opera wants to make web browsing safer so it has revamped the way it shows a user the page security. When shopping online or doing online banking, it is a good idea to check the URL bar if the site your on is actually the correct website or if you are on the verge of becoming a phishing victim. Opera 12 includes some easy to read and color coordinated badges to the left of the URL bar. This will let you know if the site is using SSL to encrypt your connection. Clicking the badge will pull up more information about the site.
One of Google Chrome’s best features has made its way into Opera 12. Plugins are now sandboxed in the browser, which means that plugins that crash won’t bring down the entire browser. Individual plugins that have crashed will just cease to work but won’t cause the browser to force quit. For example, if Adobe Flash crashes, a frowny face plugin symbol shows up instead of a Flash video.
These are just a few of the new features in Opera 12. With this latest release, Opera is definitely catching up with its competitors but it is still a hard sell for those already invested in the ecosystems of Firefox or Chrome. While Opera 12 still has its great ‘Turbo’ feature for slow connections, it’s not enough to get someone to switch from their favorite browser.