In February of this year, Opera announced a major revamp of its browser portfolio that involved ripping out and replacing some key components – in a nutshell, the innards of Opera’s new browser now resemble Google Chrome a heck of a lot more than they previously did. The first version of the browser to make an appearance was that for Android: it came out in beta in March, and arrived in full a week ago.
Now it’s time for Windows and OS X users. Again, this is a beta we’re talking about (although Opera calls it a “Next version”), but it does show off what is to be expected in the full release of Opera 15.
Those features should mostly be familiar from the Android version, but here’s a quick run-down anyway:
- Speed Dial – For those unfamiliar with Opera, this pretty much refers to bookmarks. And, like bookmarks, they can now be organized into folders. Speed Dial also seems to give Opera a chance to earn some cash from partners such as Twitter and Facebook — this feature puts those services front-and-center.
- Discover — This feature is a bit like Google Currents, in that it brings up articles according to the user’s tastes.
- Stash — This one’s new: a read-later facility designed to reduce the need to keep tons of tabs open at once. Just click on the heart button to “stash” a page.
- Search — You can now search from the address bar in Opera, same as in Chrome and co.
The look of the browser has also been refreshed to make it more platform-appropriate and, of course, there are big changes under the hood. Opera 15 uses the Chromium engine and its “Off-Road” data-squeezing mode – previously known as Turbo – now supports Google’s SPDY protocol.
The only other major thing to bear in mind for existing Opera desktop users is that the new version doesn’t have an integrated mail service. The M2 mail application has now been hived off into a standalone version, the first release candidate for which can be downloaded here.
In a blog post on the new features, Opera web evangelist Bruce Lawson said the decision to split off M2 was made to reduce the footprint of the main program, and also because “not all current Opera customers use M2″.