Opera 11, available as a beta since November, is now ready for public consumption.
The final release boasts polished appearance and sports several useful additions such as tab stacking, safer address field, visual mouse gestures, and extensions.
Although Opera Software lacks the marketing budget of Apple, Microsoft, or Google, browser veterans are very well aware of the fact that Opera leads the industry in terms of innovation.
Matter of fact, Opera Software pioneered a lot of innovations in the browsing space that we now take for granted. Take tabbed browsing that Opera had fifteen years ago or mouse gestures first introduced in 2000. The same is true for page zooming, the most comprehensive privacy controls, and so forth.
That being said, developers have introduced several enhancements in Opera 11 that refine the already finely-tuned browsing experience. First up, tab stacking. This handy tweak lets you reduce clutter when you have dozens of open tabs by allowing you to drag a tab over another in order to create groups of tabs.
To peek inside a stack, just hover over a stack and Opera 11 will line up thumbnails of the tabs within. Drag a tab off the stack to break it up. You can also drag the tab bar to the desired height to adjust the thumbnail size accordingly.
The new stacked tabs feature comes on top of Opera’s strong tab management capabilities that include pinning tabs to protect them from closing, saving tab sessions, and visual tab previews. Check out tab stacking in action in the below video.
Next, Opera’s address field has been improved to hide the complexity of long web addresses. In addition, clicking the gray globe badge to the left of the address bar brings up a more informative panel listing security-related information, which helps you make better sense of the security levels of the sites you visit.
The badges also include handy links should you wish to report a site as fraud or malware. The security badges are color-coded: Green means trusted, yellow denotes a secure site, and the blue badge means Opera is running in Turbo mode.
Visual mouse gestures is another enhancement that allows you to navigate back and forwards, open new pages, close tabs, and more by performing gestures with your mouse. To help you familiarize yourself with the gestures, Opera 11 now includes a useful visual guide to mouse gestures, invoked by holding down the right mouse button on a page.
Opera 11 joins the add-ons club with a new lightweight extension API framework for developers to create add-ons. This means users can now dress up their browser in themes and download add-ons that extend Opera’s functionality beyond what its creators originally envisioned.
The add-ons repository already carries over two hundred useful extensions, including ad-blocker NoAds, Image Preview Popup, YouTube downloader called FastestTube, cross-platform password manager LastPass, and a language translator dubbed Translate.
Last, but not the least, Opera’s built-in mail client now sports a new mail panel so you can drag accounts and mail items where you want them. The mail panel hides when you’re not viewing a mail tab.
Other nice-to-haves include a 30 percent smaller download size, the ability to load plugins on demand, which developers claim improves performance up to 30 percent, If you wish to take the plunge, go ahead and download Opera for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.