Announcing Opera Next and Speed Dial Extensions

This morning, we've released an alpha of Opera 11.50, which introduces Speed Dial extensions, and is the first build of what we call the Opera Next release cycle.

Opera Next

<p>Opera Next is an easy way for Opera fans, early adopters and developers to opt in to Opera snapshot builds, alphas, betas, RCs and even final builds without overwriting their main Opera installation. Unlike the regular download of Opera, which auto-updates only to final releases, Opera Next will auto-update every time there is a new build available on the Desktop team blog.</p>

Opera Next has its own silver icon (shiny, isn't it?), and is a completely separate installation with its own profile, so you can tinker around to your heart's content, while resting assured it won't affect your main Opera install. For more details and a visual explanation of how the normal and Opera Next release cycles differ, have a look at the Opera Next Knowledge Base article.

Speed Dial extensions

For the Opera 11.10 release, we improved the visual display and interaction of Speed Dial and added hooks for developers to make their site shine when shown in a Speed Dial cell.

In Opera 11.50, we're taking this a step further with Speed Dial extensions. Instead of being limited to web page or icon screenshots, Opera 11.50's Speed Dial cells now can render live extension content — example use cases are a weather Speed Dial extension with up-to-the-minute weather conditions, a webmail message counter, a news ticker with live sports scores, and so on.

As usual, we have prepared Dev.Opera tutorial article for you, as well as API documentation. We're looking forward to your submissions to the Opera Extensions catalog!

Note: our earlier HTML5 parser Labs build as well as an experimental build with hardware acceleration and WebGL had a UA string referencing "Opera 11.50". However, these features are not ready yet, and thus are not included in this alpha nor will they be in the 11.50 final release — expect them to pop up in post-11.50 builds though.