Opera 15 Is A Faster, Simpler Chrome, And Here Are 3 Great Reasons To Try It

After what seems to have been an age, Opera 15 has finally left beta which is available to download. The latest, much anticipated iteratio...



Opera 15 Is A Faster, Simpler Chrome, And Here Are 3 Great Reasons To Try It

After what seems to have been an age, Opera 15 has finally left beta which is available to download. The latest, much anticipated iteration has brought a  bold walk into the future, plus the process has shed a huge amount of baggage.

It might seem ridiculous now, when I was much younger, I forked more than a great wad of money for Opera, new web browser from Norway. I took it home, excited at finally being able to ditch the slow, clunky web browser that was bundled with my ISP. At the time, I remember thinking how amazing it absolutely was and how Opera will come to dominate the internet browsing world.

Years have passed since that time. Firefox and Google Chrome have burst on top of the scene and Opera’s luster has dulled somewhat. Belarus’s favorite web browser is fighting back though, using a radical overhaul. But is it any good?


Look And Feel


Opera utilized to differentiate itself from the pack by cramming in numerous features as possible. These ranged from your rather nice email client, to integrated Bittorrent functionality. These have been completely excised.

Excluding the RIAA, this hasn’t been received all of that well, with die-hard Opera users noisily wailing and moaning. However, it’s not all bad news. Opera Mail will be released like a stand-alone application possibly at the expense of convergence, we're given an interface that feels remarkably sleek and well oiled.

At first glance, it's like any other browser. But beyond that, you’ll notice that there have been some decisions regarding the design that will make the consumer experience something to marvel at. Even something as simple as seeing download progress and history is made more immediate by the inclusion of your mouse on the address bar. Perhaps that’s emblematic of the design philosophy behind Opera 15. Everything you need and want is easy to get to and incredibly functional. Everything else - the chaff - is taken away.

Opera-15-Downloads

When you type a query in to the address bar, you aren’t just sent straight away to Google, but because of the option to search Yahoo, Bing and Wikipedia. You don’t need to edit any settings either. It’s just there; Obvious, yet unobtrusive.

Opera-15-Address

Creating a beautiful user experience is tough. Sometimes, less is a lot more and whilst at first glance Opera seems a little bit barren, you eventually come to realize that the developers make a number of very sensible decisions which may have resulted in a lovely, intuitive internet browser.


A New Rendering Agent


Perhaps the most noticeable change for Opera is the fact that it has ditched its aging Presto rendering engine and replaced it with Blink - the WebKit spin off that has been developed by Google in tandem with Opera Software.

Blink was announced early this season and as it exists right now, it appears and feels like WebKit, however much of the legacy bulk that came with WebKit may be removed. Perhaps one of the most exciting argument for Blink’s existence is Google presenting a greater amount of treating the development process pc ever did with Webkit. I’m looking forward to seeing what Google and Opera do with this new project.

One of the best things concerning the move to Blink is that as being a result with the adoption of an more mainstream rendering agent, compatibility conditions plagued the sooner iterations are now a thing from the past. Mercifully, Opera runs and is like Google Chrome.

Opera-15-HTML5

HTML5 rich websites work beautifully without any evident compatibility issues. The usual suspects of WordPress, Gmail and Facebook work with no hitch either. It is like Opera stood a Damascene conversion and was reborn as a possible entirely new piece of software.

It’s important to remember that Blink is a technology rolling around in its infancy. Time will state whether the developers behind Opera have backed the best horse or if they must have gone with the longer established WebKit rendering agent. However, for one of the most part, it feels speedy and works painlessly.


Extensions and Features


A major bugbear for Opera users has long been the dearth of extensions available for the platform. Indeed, whilst Firefox and Chrome aficionados got every one of the cool toys to try out with, the Opera extensions marketplace felt as barren since the app store on WebOS.

This is not the case. Since Opera now shares Google Chrome’s rendering agent, it will affect have access to each of the cool stuff that fans of Mountain View’s offering also have for years. These include Evernote, Pocket and maybe most crucially social websites sharing wunderkind Buffer.

Opera-15-Extensions

You’d expect that this amount of extensions available for Opera would pale when compared with other more popular web browsers. But that’s totally not true. I found most from the extensions I use inside my day job were available for download, including some rather popular commercial ones such as LastPass.

Some functionality from Chrome is carried over too, such as the rather handy ‘Inspect Element’ tool. This works as you’d expect, and it has allow me to switch the signal from Opera for my day job, , involving a great deal of debugging Javascript. As a result, Opera is like a viable choice for web designers.

Opera-15-console

Should you happen to live in an area where Internet speeds are poor, you’ll likely be very happy to hear that Opera comes with an included a features that aims to make probably the most of lackluster connections.

Opera-15-Off-Road

Curiously named ‘Off-Road Mode’, it's nothing to do with using the Internet when disconnected through the Internet. Instead, it will take advantage of SPDY, the brand new Internet protocol from Google, as well as being a proxy and server-side compression. This should be a relief to people amongst us who live in rural areas, or are stored on dial up.

It’s not just for slow Internet too. A rather amusing side-effect of Off-Road Mode is that it unblocks sites which might be being filtered in the UK, for example The Pirate Bay. Since all traffic will be pushed through servers in Norway, you don’t have to worry about any in the numerous ISP level blocks which have been positioned in recent years.

Opera-15-PirateBay


Conclusions


Opera 15 isn’t revolutionary, yet after just 48 hrs of using it, Google Chrome no longer has pride of place on my OS X dock bar.

Despite an absence of bells and whistles, things feel functional and fast. What features are mixed together in Opera are graceful, smartly designed and have some utility. It’s extensible, and more importantly, it’s fast. Really, really fast.

Time will state whether Opera will regain the job that it once held in their late 90′s heyday. However, with a product which is as wonderful and well polished simply because this, it’s difficult to imagine it not.

So, are you considering switching to Opera?

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