Culminating in a party at San Francisco's Rickshaw Stop last night, the biggest Web browser publisher from Norway--also, the only Web browser publisher from Norway--kicked off a number of beta versions. Opera 9.5 beta 1 and Opera Mini 4 beta 3 were made public yesterday, introducing a heap of new features.
New features in the full browser include the ability to synchronize personal data like bookmarks, the Personal bar and Speed Dial info via the Synchronize Opera function, text searches of recently visited Web sites from the URL bar, content-blocking improvements, and a revamp of keyboard shortcuts. Also, this version introduces new indexing and storage formats for Opera Mail. While it does make things easier to parse, since this is a beta there's no going back once you begin the conversion process. The Opera Web site correctly warns you to back up your profiles and data before you leap into the newness.
If you're worried about stability issues, the most recent supported release is version 9.24.
The Opera Mini beta contains some long-needed improvements. Most notably, it supports Opera Link, which makes it incredibly easy to maintain personal info across multiple devices. No other browser contains this kind of cross-device functionality, and it makes a noticeable difference. Also, RSS/Atom feeds and Speed Dial have been added, making full-version functions available in the mobile edition.
Although Mozilla's announcement to develop a mobile version of Firefox could shake up the market, Opera currently is the go-to mobile browser, and these upgrades strengthen its foundation and dominance in that arena.