Opera 11.10 Beta


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Catching up with Thomas from Opera during SXSW this past weekend was enlightening in more ways than one. The team attended the conference to show off the new beta for Opera 11.10. There are a lot of enhancements to this iteration of the browser and a few new goodies you should enjoy.

The popular Speed Dial feature has been beefed up quite a lot. All of your favorite pages will now have much clearer previews. Dials can even show live content for websites. There isn’t a limit as to how many dials you can use. It’s so simple to adjust the Speed Dial view to make it fit YOU and your setup. Click the little + sign to add a new website and type the address or just choose from a long list of suggestions.

Edit the name, and you’ve totally owned that dial. Devs can optimize their Speed Dial thumbnails which lets you see what is happening on your favorite sites with one quick glance.

The design has been enhanced significantly. The graphics and UI offer a more sleek and modern look. Features are much easier to find and actually use. This new design is said to have the feel of a “finely tuned browsing machine.”

Version 11.10 supports CSS3 linear gradients and multiple columns. The browser shows webpages using the best standards in all of their relative glory. It’s also now much easier to install your favorite plugins, including ones like Adobe’s Flash Player. They’ll install quickly and automagically.

It’s quite interesting to watch the browser wars these days. With the recent release of Internet Explorer 9 – and tomorrow’s release of FireFox 4 – Opera doesn’t have much choice but to innovate. With all of the new-fangled features in each of these offerings, it leaves me wondering where there is to go next. Will they one day develop a browser that will simply know what we’re thinking and take us there? Could we finally expect a browser that loads pages literally instantly?

Where do you think browsers will be heading in the next few years? What more can we possibly expect to see that isn’t already being done? Most importantly, (for this post, anyways) does Opera have what it takes to maintain a large user base?

Firefox 4 Thoughts and Review


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This week, Matthew is going to give you a little preview of Firefox 4 Beta 7. He wants all of you to see why he believes Firefox is most definitely still in the running for best browser available.

The only issue Matt has seen is that Aero crashes when he opens this Beta. Mozilla has integrated a lot of new features and a nice speed boost. One of the nicest inclusions is the way you can organize your tabs now. This gives you a visual overview of all open tabs, allowing them to be sorted and grouped. Additionally, your tabs are now on top by default.

You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar. There’s a new Addons manager which makes it much easier for you to sift through your extensions and decide what you want to enable, disable or update. The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you’d like). And, the stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button.

There are many other improvements to this already powerful browser. Have you checked out the new beta yet? What are your thoughts?

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What's New for Internet Explorer 9


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The beta for Internet Explorer 9 was officially released this morning during a press conference. This streamlined version has a better user experience and is far faster than any previous iteration of the application. With this release, Microsoft is asking us to “unlock the beauty of the web.” The team in Redmond feels that a browser should be focusing on a website – not the browser used to access it. IE 9 contains a lot of design changes and new features to make visiting websites an efficient process.

The new streamlined user interface features minimalized focus on the Home, Favorites and Settings menu buttons. They aren’t right in your face and larger-than-life anymore. There is a new position for Tabs and a new design for the URL bar. The speed is a drastic improvement, making it a competitor to other browsers once again.

The scrolling feature is a much smoother experience than in previous versions, assisted by new hardware acceleration. There is better Flash and HTML 5 integration. You will find that you now have the ability to easily see which add-ons might be slowing down the browser as it launches. There’s also a download manager to warn you if the code you’re trying to nab is potentially malicious.

Keep in mind that IE 9 will only work on Windows Vista or Windows 7. If you’re still using XP, you’re out of luck and unable to experience the actual goodness that we’re seeing out of the Microsoft camp today.

Thanks to Matthew for this excellent screencast and first peek at Internet Explorer 9.

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Google Chrome Beta: Speedy and Simple to Use

The newest beta release of Google Chrome promises enhanced usability and stability to users. The new features are designed to increase browser speed and responsiveness and makes it easier for you to access everything you need with just one click.

Autofill will help you fill in Web forms with information you specify, including your name, phone number, address and credit card numbers. The feature builds this information up over time. Eventually, you’ll be able to fill in a long Web form with only a couple of clicks – never having to re-type the information over and over again. For your security and safety, all personal information stored in Chrome is stored securely and kept private until you choose to use it on a Web site.

You’ll find more synchronization capabilities in this new version. In addition to syncing bookmarks, preferences and themes, you can now also sync your Chrome extensions and Autofill data (NOT including credit card numbers) through your Google account. With these sync features, you can personalize your Chrome experience and access your well-organized information and settings no matter what computer you may be using. As long as you sign in to your Google account on Chrome, you’ll be able to access everything you might need. Just head to the “Sync” section of the “Personal Stuff” tab in Chrome’s options to get started.

Are you a Chrome user or beta tester? What are your thoughts on the speed and overall performance of this newest iteration of the popular browser?

Google Chrome 5 Beta


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Marques has created several excellent screencasts for us in the past. This time, he wanted to show off how fast and stable the latest beta release of Google Chrome is. He feels that it’s the fastest browser to date. Additionally, Marques loves that the Extension integration has been made much simpler to use, and is instantaneous when you install or remove them.

There is quite a large collection of Extensions available. You’ll find categories for web development, blogging, shopping, sports, fun and accessibility. They install to your browser instantly with just one click, and remove themselves even faster. All you have to do is click on the little wrench icon at the top right of the browser, and choose Extensions.

The Acid3 Test is a fantastic way to test your browser’s speed and capability. It works with any browser you might have installed. It will determine not only the speed of the browser, but also how well it renders things. As you saw in the screencast, this version of Google Chrome rated 100 out of 100. The rendering wasn’t perfect… but again, it’s still a beta release. Apparently, my assistant Kat tested her Firefox browser, and only received a score of 94/100. That should tell you something, folks, about how much better this iteration of Chrome really is.

Thanks, Marques, for another great screencast.

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