What’s New In Opera 12, Mobile 11.5, Mini 6.5

At its Up North Web media event in Oslo today, Opera showed off some of the new features in its soon-to-be-updated desktop, mobile and mini browsers, including browser compression for Android devices and webcam access in your desktop browser. Here is a quick overview of the promised highlights.

Opera 12

Version 11.5 only came out in July and performed well in our most recent speed tests, but browser updates seem to be getting more frequent these days (thanks, Chrome). The Alpha build for 12 will get public release this Thursday (European time, so potentially Thursday or Friday for Australia depending on the time of day it happens).

Key enhancements promised for version 12 include hardware-optimised graphics, and the ability to access features such as webcams via the browser using HTML5. Chief development officer Christen Krogh showed off the ability to directly incorporate camera images into a page, as well as saving and sharing photos.

Opera’s theming abilities are also being enhanced, with the ability to incorporate larger images in the background.

That said, as with 11.5, there are more underlying changes than visible ones. “The main change in Opera 12 is the internals,” Krogh said. “We revamped almost everything under the hood. The JavaScript module has been revamped and reduced in code size. We re-implemented completely our HTML parser.”

Opera Mobile 11.5 for Android and Mini 6.5

The main feature demonstrated in version 11.5 of Opera’s Android browser was incorporation of a Turbo option which lets you optionally have data compressed before it is sent to your device. This has always been a feature of the Opera Mini browser, but the Mobile release takes a more nuanced approach: you can switch it on or off, meaning you can go full-bore when on Wi-Fi but save on data charges when using 3G or GRPS.

The adjustments are also calibrated to device screen size: images on phones will be more compressed than for tablets, since the screen is larger.

That aside, the browser also offers faster scrolling, with the promise of “no checkerboard” when you scroll on large sites. It certainly looked good in the demos, and we’ll be interested to see how it performs next time we test mobile browsers.

There aren’t as many underlying changes in Opera Mini 6.5, but the interface has been tweaked.

The new Android versions should hit servers around midnight tonight Australian time. If you give it a try, tell us how it works in the comments.

Disclosure: Angus Kidman travelled to Oslo as a guest of Opera.

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