Opera Turbo Uses WebP to Compress Images

Opera is probably the best browser for slow Internet connections, especially if you enable Opera Turbo, a proxy that compresses web pages. Opera 11.10 improved this feature significantly by replacing highly compressed JPEGs with WebP images.

“The most noticeable difference is probably WebP. An open standard image format that was released with some fanfare by Google last year. We thought it was about time to replace the 20 year old JPEG format with something more modern. Overall, WebP produces images with less artifacts and crisper details, even though the image takes less space,” says Opera’s Audun Mathias Øygard.

Here’s an image from BBC’s site in Opera 11.01 (JPEG) and Opera 11.10 (WebP):

Opera’s tests showed that there’s an important speed improvement: “about 22% less data transferred compared between old and new Opera Turbo”. For example, BBC’s science page uses 724.1 KB, instead of 1111 KB, in the old version of Opera Turbo.

There are two browsers that support WebP: Chrome and Opera 11.10, but Opera’s team found a great way to use it. It’s important to mention that WebP is based on WebM/VP8, a video format open sourced by Google.

{ via FavBrowser }

Opera 10.6, the First Browser that Plays WebM Videos

When Google announced WebM, an open video format based on the VP8 codec, Opera and Firefox were the first browsers that released nightly builds that supported WebM. Google released a Chromium build that integrated WebM a day later.

Opera 10.6 is the first stable version of a browser that lets you play WebM videos. Opera added support for many HTML5 features (geolocation, Web workers, offline storage), has improved JavaScript performance and fixed a thousand bugs since releasing Opera 10.54. The Norwegian company claims that Opera is “the fastest browser on Earth”, but I think it’s not really important to see which browser is the fastest. Chrome, Safari and Opera are extremely fast, Firefox is still pretty fast, while Internet Explorer continues to improve. It’s important to constantly improve a browser, to learn from other browsers, to innovate, to support the latest technologies, without neglecting that a browser has to be fast, usable and secure.

Probably the best source of WebM videos is YouTube. The first thing you need to do is to join the HTML5 experiment. Then you can restrict the YouTube search results to WebM videos, by clicking on “Search options” and selecting “WebM”.

Other browsers that include support for WebM videos: Google Chrome 6 Dev Channel and the upcoming Firefox 4 beta.

Even if HTML5 and WebM are important for Google, YouTube takes a pragmatic approach. YouTube says that browsers need to improve the native video support and provide features like robust streaming, content protection, fullscreen video, camera and microphone access. “We’re very happy to see such active and enthusiastic discussion about evolving web standards – YouTube is dependent on browser enhancement in order for us to improve the video experience for our users. While HTML5’s video support enables us to bring most of the content and features of YouTube to computers and other devices that don’t support Flash Player, it does not yet meet all of our needs. Today, Adobe Flash provides the best platform for YouTube’s video distribution requirements, which is why our primary video player is built with it,” explains YouTube.

Opera: FastMail.FM has been acquired by Opera Software

The Norwegian software company has yet to make any announcements of its own, but Opera has acquired email service provider FastMail.FM, according to a message posted on the latter’s company blog.

The terms of the agreements are not disclosed, but the Australia-based company in a notice said it will continue to run its email service, which has been in operation for over 10 years.

Here’s the announcement:

Some exciting changes will be occurring with FastMail.FM. FastMail.FM has been acquired by Opera Software, the developers of the Opera web browser. For more information about Opera, please visit www.opera.com.

This is great news for FastMail.FM users. FastMail.FM will continue to run and grow as the reliable email service you’ve known for over 10 years. We’ll be combining forces with Opera’s technical teams, expertise and products to develop new and innovative products.

FastMail has included a FAQ, in which it says that users who wish to NOT transfer their accounts over to Opera have to go into settings and indicate just that. Not acting upon the email the company sent out to its users or actively accepting the transfer will result in Opera assuming control over the mailbox and the account registration details.

As to the reason for selling, FastMail says the market was getting increasingly competitive and that Opera’s expertise in web browsers and especially the mobile market would help the company grow and take on the next big challenges in running and building an email service.

Some FastMail.FM staff will be making the move to Norway, and the company says it has already been working with Opera’s technical teams to exchange expertise, and to develop new products. It will be interesting to see what eventually comes out of this deal.

Update: the official release just hit our inbox:

Oslo, Norway – April 30, 2010 – Opera Software today announced that it has acquired Web-based e-mail provider FastMail.fm. The acquisition will enable Opera to expand its current messaging product portfolio and deliver cross-platform messaging to a wide range of devices, including computers, mobile phones, TVs and gaming consoles.

Headquartered in Australia, FastMail.fm has forged a reputation for responsiveness and reliability. The company already offers some of the most advanced Web-based e-mail platforms for consumers and small business customers and has been lauded for its approach to security, focus on innovation, and support for open, interoperable standards.

Since the release of Opera 4 in 2000, Opera’s desktop browser has included its own innovative e-mail client. Following this acquisition, Opera will be able to offer a consistent e-mail experience across all products. Opera currently has more than 50 million users of its desktop browser and more than 55 million users of Opera Mini, a mobile Web browser that works on almost all handsets available today.

“The newest generation of Web users will discover the Web through a mobile device. Having world-class messaging capability alongside a rich and compelling Web experience is essential. By combining forces, Opera and FastMail.fm can offer messaging on any device. This will enhance the value Opera provides to consumers, while assisting our operator partners in reducing customer churn,” says Rolf Assev, Chief Strategy Officer, Opera Software

Opera, Safari Beat Chrome On Google’s Own JavaScript Conformance Test

Back in June, Google launched Sputnik, a suite of tools that runs over 5,000 tests to check a web browser’s JavaScript conformance. Last week, they made the tool a lot easier for anyone to use, with a version that works in the web browser. The results are interesting.

Opera, Safari Beat Chrome

Notably, both the Opera and Safari web browsers beat Google’s own Chrome browser in the test. As you can see in the picture above, Opera is the clear leader, with only 78 failures (the closer to the center, the less errors). Safari came in second with 159 errors, with Chrome in third with 218 errors. Firefox is close behind with 259 errors, while Internet Explorer is the outlier with 463 errors.

These tests were run on Windows machines, with the latest released version of each browser. Using the web tool on my Mac, though, shows similar results (at least for Opera, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox — there is no IE for Mac anymore).

While much of the focus on JavaScript is about speed (that’s what the SunSpider test measures, for example), Sputnik is interesting because it focuses on conformity, making it more like the Acid3 test, which tests web standards compliance. Chrome, Safari, and Opera have all passed Acid3, with Firefox getting very close (94/100 for Firefox 3.6). IE, meanwhile, again lags behind with just 20/100 for IE8. And even the new IE9 preview only scores 55/100.

Speaking of IE9, I tried to run the Sputnik tool in the preview build of the new browser on Windows 7. Unfortunately, it completely shut down several times after getting up to about 50 failures after only a few hundred of the 5,000+ tests — not a good sign. But again, it’s just a very early preview release of the browser, and early SunSpider results for the browser have been good.