Today we were treated to the Opera 9 Technological Preview 2. Featuring some terrific new options, I'm sure we'll start seeing bits and pieces in user's screenshots all over the web. The big new additions are bittorrent support and what they call widgets. I think of them more as applets.
Some of the great applets include news feeds such as slashdot or The Register, an online dictionary, a calendar, clocks, currency converter, calculator, Photo viewer, and bash reader (which obtains quotes from various sources to amuse the user).
When one selects the show widgets option from the menu, you are presented with a window listing the available widgets categorized by type or status and including a preview. Click on the "add" graphic, and opera will download the requested widget and install it upon your desktop. Then one is given the opportunity to keep it or trash it.
Some of the great widgets
Another big new addition for Opera is bittorrent support. As in mozilla-firebird, if one clicks on a torrent file download link, it opens first verifies that you want to share the resulting directory, opens its download progress page, and begins the download. It defaults to different port than I'm accustomed to using, and even changing it to the usual bittorrent ports didn't seem to allow the file to actually start coming in.
Download Directory/Verification Dialog
Download Progress Screen
Making sure the torrent works
Some little quirks here and there presented in the preview, but key word here being preview. For a first public release of a preview, it functioned respectably well. First of all, even with 7 or 8 widgets on the desktop, cpu cycles showed very little increase in activity and what did show was attributed to X. They seemed fairly stable as well. Some little glitches include after restart of opera, the rss feed windows would no longer expand to see the headlines. And after one stop and restart, the dictionary widget returned incomplete (only showing about a 1/3 of the normal widget). I'm not sure if the bittorrent download actually functions, the download didn't appear to ever start here.
As has been the case since inception, Opera smokes the browser world in surfing speeds, and as has been the case for several major versions now, the page rendering is gorgeous. Fonts were great looking. I'm not sure if this widget idea is something that will catch on or not. They are great little widgets, but we already use desklets, superkaramba, and even window manager applets. They will have to come up with other unique applets to warrant leaving opera on all the time in my book. But then again, it'd be convenient to have a browser at the ready - if one wanted to make Opera their main browser. And that my friend is Opera's main goal here. I wish them luck. I've always admired Opera and their team.
More Screenshots!