Opera is one of those less talked about browsers out there. That's not to say it's a bad browser, it just gets ignored somehow when the subject is brought up. It really is one of the best browsers out there in terms of security, but it has been behind in a few key areas - not anymore.
Opera announced the availability of the Opera 12 beta today that features a lot of great new features that puts the browser on par with recent Firefox and Chrome releases. It just lost a few of its more unique features to get there.
Let's cover the good news first though. The first update you'll see is some enhanced performance from the browser in the form of 64-bit support on Windows and Mac. It has also sped up page loading even on secure pages.
Even though I can hear the "copycat" calls now, Opera now has themes that users can apply to the browser. Just like all the other theme extensions, you can apply these themes at the click of a button without having to exit the browser.
Remember when I said that Opera security was awesome? It just got more awesome and helpful with a redesigned security badge system. It has added color coded security badges in the address bar to let you know if the site in question has enough security in place.
They have also enabled camera and extension API support. This is for face tracking applications, but also for cool future stuff like WebRTC. More on that later.
There is now right-to-left scripts support in Opera which enables those who speak such languages to enjoy the browser natively. On top of that, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Hebrew are now supported in their native format.
Opera is now getting into hardcore support for Web standards and HTML5 with this release. The first is support for WebGL which enables the browser to take advantage of your video card to display 3D images in browser. On top of that, there is now support for new Web standards including WebRTC, HTML5 Drag and Drop, CSS3 Animations and Transitions, Do-Not-Track, and CSS Generated Content for Paged Media.
Now for the bad news: Opera is discontinuing support for Opera Unite, Opera Widgets and Voice. Unite and Widgets are removed by default, but you can move these solutions to the extension platform if you so wish.
Overall, this is a fantastic release for Opera and it sets up the browser to be even better. Now if only we can work on its notoriety.