Opera Next 21 sports hardware-accelerated Aura shell, promises more responsive UI

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Apr 25, 2013

Opera has moved version 21 of its web browser for Windows and Mac from the Developer (alpha) stream to the Next (beta) stream with the release of Opera Next 21. Most of the changes are system ones, designed to improve performance, but some other interesting tweaks have been implemented.

The move to the Next stream is part of the browser’s rapid-release development cycle, which brought Opera into line with rival browsers Chrome and Firefox.

The chief change in Opera 21 is added support for Aura. Aura is part of the open-source Chromium project and provides a hardware-accelerated rendering of the browser. The net result is that UI animations are less taxing, resulting in a leaner, faster feel when using it. Opera adds that it "gives us a solid foundation on which to make future UI changes".

One other advertised change allows developers and advanced users to force Opera’s Address Bar to always show the full URL – simply open Settings, tick "Show advanced settings" and then tick "Show full URL in combined search and address bar" from within the User interface section.

Users should also note that changes introduced in previous Developer builds -- such as experimental access to features for improving start-up times where users have a large number of tabs loaded -- should still be present.

Opera Next 21 is available now as a freeware download for Windows and Mac, and installs alongside other versions of the browser, including Opera 20 FINAL. Also available is Opera 12.16 FINAL.

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