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Opera speeds up Mobile, adds extensions to PC browser

Opera on Phone

By Nicole Kobie in Oslo

Posted on 14 Oct 2010 at 09:55

Opera is building hardware acceleration into its Mobile browser and extensions into its desktop software.

The next version of Opera Mobile will feature hardware acceleration to allow smoother pinch-to-zoom following demand from users, said chief development officer Christen Krogh, at a company event in Oslo today.

"More and more phones come with mature graphic processing units,” he said, adding that allows faster browsing speeds, better manipulation of graphics, and improvements in mobile phone gaming. "You have to develop a lot to stand still in this market," noted Krogh.

The feature will arrive in the first version of the Opera Mobile browser for Android, which is set for release within a month.

Opera already offers a version of its Mini browser for Android. That browser compresses pages via Opera's servers before they are displayed, while Mobile only compresses when the user tells it to.

Extensions

The next desktop version of the browser, Opera 11, will also finally bring support for extensions, following the lead of rival browsers.

"With this addition, users will be able to customise Opera even more," said Krogh, showing off extensions for Reddit and Wikipedia.

He promised the new extensions wouldn't slow down the speedy browser, a side effect infamous in Mozilla's Firefox. "When we chose an extensions technology we chose one that's not as heavy-weight as Mozilla's," he said, saying it was more like what Google's Chrome uses. "Opera is more resource careful."

The extensions can be developed using CSS3, HTML5 and JavaScript, as well as supported APIs. The new extensions do not mean the death of Opera's widgets, however. “Widgets are going to continue,” and live side-by-side with extensions, CTO Hakon Lie Wium said.

However, they will be not be exclusive Opera widgets, but evolve into WC3 widgets usable across the web. “There will be a specification finalised in the not so distant future," Lie Wium added. "We think apps should be written using web standards.”

Opera would like to see other vendors follow suit. "We think extensions are ripe for standardisation, we’d like to work with other vendors to make sure they become a true part of the web,” he said.

The alpha for Opera 11 will be available "soon", according to the company.

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