Click here to see the Opera screenshots
The Opera Web browser has the reputation of being one of the most innovative applications in the Web space, often being first to introduce many of the features that later find their way into more well-known browsers such as those from Microsoft and Mozilla.
In my experience this has definitely been the case with most of the major Opera releases that I have tested over the years.
But what about their smaller point releases? Do they follow through when it comes to innovation?
For the last few days I've been testing out the beta of the recently released Opera 9.5. And for now I have to say that no, it isn't as innovative as some of the past major Opera releases. But for a point release it does have some very interesting new capabilities.
One of my favorites is a new history search. Directly from the browser address bar I can type any words and Opera would begin performing full text searches through pages that I had visited. This proved to be very helpful, especially during long browsing sessions when I couldn't remember which page I had visited earlier that had the information on a specific topic.
Another new feature in this beta that has received a bit more publicity is Opera Link. Basically, Opera Link makes it possible to synchronize personal browser settings and information such as bookmarks to a central service (in this case the free My Opera service) and then synchronize them back to Opera installations on other systems, including smart phones and handhelds.
My first take on this feature was that it wasn't all that original. Browsers and browser add-ons have been providing similar functionality for nearly 10 years. But Opera has done a good job with this feature and added a couple of interesting wrinkles.
The biggest is that the synchronization works with phones and handhelds that are running the beta of Opera Mini 4. This makes it very easy to access and share browsing favorites across both handhelds and PCs.
Also, along with bookmarks, Opera Link also synchronizes Opera Speed Dial, a feature added in an earlier Opera update that makes it possible to define favorite Web sites and have clickable thumbnails of them appear whenever you open a new browser tab.
Those who want to try out the new Opera 9.5 beta can download it here