Opera's New Version Adds Conveniences

While Opera is not the world’s most popular web browser, it has a loyal group of fans and I use it occasionally because it is lightweight and fast. The new version 9.6 of Opera is downloadable now. and I’ve been testing it out. It has a few convenient new features, and remains snappy, although it won’t replace Firefox as my browser of choice.

I downloaded the new version in less than two minutes, and when I clicked to launch it, I remembered that Opera has always been very fast to launch, which it still is. (A lot of people carry it on USB thumb drives.) Here are some of the notable new features.

One of the most prominent new features in version 9.6 of Opera is called Speed Dial. You can view screenshots of how it works here. Speed Dial reminds me of the way the Google Chrome browser keeps track of sites that you visit and aggregates them in one place. The difference here is that you click on a Plus button next to your tabs and aggregate sites that you specify into Speed Dial containers. The result is that you can get to your favorite sites quickly, from one location.

Version 9.6 of Opera also has a feature that can strip away a real annoyance: RSS feeds for which you can’t see a preview. In the new version of the browser, you can see previews before you subscribe (hat tip to Download Squad for alerting me to this feature).

Like Google Chrome, the new version of Opera lets you perform searches directly from the address bar. You can type a search term in and look for it on Google with one click, or you can type a search term and look for it within sites stored in your browsing history list–a nice addition.

There are also new skins you can use with Opera now to customize the appearance of the browser, similar to the themes you can apply in Firefox. Speaking of Firefox, though, the more I look at updates like this one, or Google Chrome itself, the more I’m reminded of how much I get out of Firefox because of the many extensions I use with it. That problem alone keeps it a significant challenge for new browsers or updates to browsers to make me want to switch from Firefox.

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