The latest version of the Opera web browser has been released with some good additions for web developers, including support for WebRTC.
The headline additions for version 12, codenamed Opera Wahoo, for all users are faster performance and better support for newer web standards alongside a range of new features.
The new features include more support for themes to customize the appearance of the browser, and the option of letting websites use your computer’s webcam to take photos from the browser. The suggestion is that you can use this feature to set a new profile picture in your social network or just see what you look like with a moustache.
The promo video is very keen on the "instant makeover" aspects of the new relase - and the fact that it is faster:
Behind the scenes, one improvement that should make the browser more stable comes with the fact that Opera 12 now has process isolation for plugins. Opera says that plugins such as Flash are behind around a third of crashes, and that having the plugins running as a separate process will minimize the effects of these problems.
Users who like to protect their privacy will appreciate the addition of support for Do Not Track headers. Users who don’t want websites to track their behavior can choose an option in the security settings of the browser preferences to “Ask websites not to track me”. Once this option is chosen, Opera will append a flag to every HTTP request to tell servers that the user doesn’t want sites to track their behavior. Support for Do Not Track is limited at the moment but getting more popular.
If you’re a web developer, the good news is that Opera 12 has added support for WebRTC. This is still being finalized by the W3C Web Real-Time Communications Working Group and will let you use standards-based audio and video chat in your web applications. Opera has also added support for the WebRTC media capture APIs. These can be used to capture live media streams from the user’s microphone and webcam for use as web content. If a website wants to use the API, the user is asked whether the facility should be activated to prevent images and sound being transmitted without the user knowing.
Support has also been added for CSS3 animations and transitions, and for CSS generated content designed to be displayed on paged media. This means you can include settings that specify the way the content should be shown if it is printed.
One experimental feature in this version of Opera is support for hardware-accelerated rendering. This feature is still at the experimental stage, and needs to be enabled by following the instructions on the Opera Desktop Team blog if you want to try it.