Opera 12.10, the latest big release of the popular browser, is almost here and the first official beta has already landed. Picking features planned for Opera 12.50 that are already completed, Opera 12.10 is a stopgap release in the vein of Opera 11.60 before Opera 12.
That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things to like, though niche audiences are going to be the most excited.
Retina display and touch input
Opera 12.10 adds some support for high-resolution, HiDPI or Retina displays, whichever way you want to call them. Text is crisper, images better looking and the browser elements themselves look better on these displays.
The latest release also comes with some support for touch input, just in time for Windows 8. Scrolling, zooming and navigating via touch is now possible on Windows 8 devices with a touch screen or a multi-touch touchpad but the feature works on Windows 7 as well.
Support for SPDY
On the technical front, Opera 12.10 adds support for SPDY, the new work-in-progress HTTP overhaul which, as the name suggests, is designed to speed up web communications.
SPDY will serve as the base of HTTP 2.0, which is still far from becoming a reality, but is already in limited use. Google is the biggest site to support it and it does for most of its properties, Twitter also supports SPDY.
Facebook is looking into it and several other smaller sites offer support, but it's still far from widely adopted. The fact that it's an official part of the Apache web server will help, but the fact that the draft specs are still changing won't.
New APIs for extensions and web apps
Extension developers have new APIs to look forward to, there's now a Context Menu API, a Screenshots API and a Resource Loader API, which should enable them to create more powerful add-ons.
Web developers benefit from support for the new Fullscreen API and the Page Visibility API, but aimed directly at web apps. The Fullscreen API is self-explanatory, the Page Visibility API enables websites to determine whether the tab they're in is visible to the user or not, making it possible to pause taxing operations when they're not needed.