by October 16, 2010 0 comments

At its recently held conference Up North Web, by Opera Software in its home town Oslo, the web browser giant pre-announced some of the features that users can expect from the upcoming releases of the web browser.

Support for Extensions in Opera 11 Alpha

A key trend being observed in the web browser market is customizability. Most browsers today can be customized by users as per their liking. Firefox and Chrome for instance, allow users to add their own extensions.

Now, users of Opera won’t be deprived of this functionality, because the upcoming alpha release of Opera 11 will support extensions, apart from the widgets that the current version already supports. Users will now be able to do much more while browsing using Opera. The company demonstrated several extensions during the conference. While browsing, if you come across a term for which you seek more information, then the Wikipedia extension could come in handy. If you want to know how many people have read the particular article that you’re reading on the web, then use the reddit extension. Likewise, there will be extensions for Facebook, YouTube, and many others.

Hardware Acceleration in Opera Mini and Mobile

A critical success factor for most web browsers is the end-user experience. According to Christen Krogh–Chief Development Officer, Opera Software, the only way to improve user experience is to listen to their feedback. He added that based on popular feedback, the new versions of Opera Mini and Mobile will have support for hardware acceleration and a new, improved, pinch to zoom feature in all smartphones that support it (such as the iPhone).

The new pinch to zoom feature will seamlessly zoom any web page that the user is browsing, which was not the case earlier. The manipulation of images and performance of various graphics apps would improve with better pinch and zoom. When you zoom into a particular part of a web page to read the text, the text redraw will happen almost instantly, irrespective of the zoom level. This will therefore always ensure that the text you read from a web page is always sharp and crisp.

Similarly, hardware acceleration support has been incorporated by changing the complete design of the web browser for mobile phones. Instead of using images, the entire browser has been designed using a wireframe model, so that it can be rendered in real-time. Plus, it’s been provided support for OpenGL and OpenGL-ES, so that any smartphone and its underlying hardware platform that supports these two graphics libraries, would be able to render the web browser. This feature can have several advantages. For one, it could result in improved browser performance, and two, since its rendered, fitting it on different smartphone screen sizes would require lesser efforts. Hardware acceleration support will improve the manipulation of imagery and graphics apps. The pinch and zoom functionality is a direct result of hardware acceleration support. Currently, Opera supports more than 3,000 mobile phones and smartphones, according to Christian.

Opera Mobile for Android

With so much of action happening around Google’s Android platform, it’s only natural for browser companies to support it. Opera would therefore be releasing a beta of Opera Mobile for Android phones. Similarly, Opera will also release a new version of Opera Mini for iPhone, which will thereby provide hardware acceleration and pinch to zoom features.

Opera for other devices like TVs

The future of web browsers doesn’t end with these features. Christian talked about how the future of web browsers is shaping up. First came web browsers for PCs, then came mobile versions. In the future, web browsers will be available for other devices and even TV Screens. The chief development officer of Opera Software, Christian, then took the press through a demo of Opera running on a TV from Philips. Called NetTV, the entire user interface for the TV would be running inside a web browser. The user would be able to choose from a range of different services, including various TV channels, YouTube, a TV guide, games, and much more.

Clearly, the browser company that introduced innovative features like tabbed browsing, mouse gestures, speed dial, etc can be expected to continue on its innovation spree.

The author was hosted in Oslo by Opera Software

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