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Our favorite cross-platform browser just got leaner and meaner, and grew a few new toys. Opera (news, site) has just released version 11.50, which comes with a few enhancements that might have been inspired by some of Opera's competitors. But when you're at the #5 position in terms of market share, you can take a few liberties with your design and still call it a stroke of genius.

Streamlined Code, Faster Interface

Foremost of the new features in Opera 11.50 are the redesigned user interface and the subtle changes under-the-hood. All in all, these are designed to make the browsing experience with Opera even faster than it already is. The UI loses a lot of elements, and the user is presented with a clean, simple screen that focuses on the web content rather than browser buttons and boxes. Dubbed Project Featherweight, this Opera feature was meant to make the browser "as light, bright, and user-friendly as possible -- without sacrificing power or flexibility."

Opera 11.50 Speed Dial Extensions

Opera 11.50 Speed Dial extensions display dynamic content for easy access to information

But the speed tweaks don't stop there. Opera 11.50 renders webpages faster with a few tweaks in CSS and SVG rendering for faster page loads. This new release also features better HTML5 support, including support for new features like Session History, Navigation, W3C File API, classlist and element. Let's not forget that Opera has made some changes to the core rendering engine and made thousands of bug fixes that contribute to an overall speed boost.

Speed Dial Gets More Functionality With Extensions

Before Google Chrome had its New Tab apps window, and before Apple's Safari got its most-visited sites window, Opera already had Speed Dial, which featured frequently visited sites. Opera 11.50 updates the Speed Dial functionality with Extensions, enabling web developers and designers to add dynamic content to their sites that are accessible when the user opens Speed Dial.

Users also get access to standalone Extensions, which can display content like weather updates, notifications and the like without having to open a full-fledged website. This is somewhat like the concept of Mac OS X widgets, only within a browser window. Opera 11.50 currently supports Webdoc, Hype Machine, StockTwits and Read It Later, and more Extensions are expected as developers take on the platform.

Sync Your Life With Opera Link

Knowing the trend with having more than one computer for Internet browsing, Opera has updated its sync service to include more personal details. Opera Link can now remember your passwords across computers, on top of bookmarks, settings, history, notes and other preferences. This way, you can quickly move from one computer to another and not have to remember all your passwords; just remember to key in your Opera Link account details. And this also includes mobile devices, where Opera Link is supported.

Opera 11.50 is now available as a free download for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Opera also offers lightweight browsers for mobile platforms, such as Android, iOS, Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and MeeGo, among others.