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Opera Mobile coming to Android, Opera 11 to support extensions

Android users tired of the operating system’s built-in Google browser will soon have another option. At its global press day, Up North Web, Opera announced a full version of its Internet browser for Android devices. The new smartphone browser will feature hardware acceleration for faster speeds and a pinch-to-zoom feature, according to the company’s official blog. It will be available in the next month.

Opera Mobile will co-exist with Opera Mini, a lighter version of the browser, which hit the Android Market in March. The lighter, “mini” version of the browser uses Opera’s servers to compress web data before it is sent to the phone, while the full version will act more like a standard browser and do its processing on the phone, allowing for streaming video and better performance for languages like Javascript. Opera Mini will also get the updated pinch-to-zoom feature.

This news comes after Mozilla announced a beta of its Firefox 4 browser for Android. Alpha versions of the browser have been available since April. The Dolphin HD and Skyfire browsers are also available.

The new features

While once only available on Apple’s iPhone, the pinch-to-zoom feature continues a trend among smartphone browsers and applications to include multi-touch capabilities. The feature allows a user to better read full web pages by making a pinching gesture, zooming in on a particular area of the screen. To zoom out, users do the opposite and make an outward gesture with their fingers. The feature makes browsing full-sized websites much more intuitive on mobile devices.

Opera’s describes its hardware acceleration and UI improvements as a “momentous” improvement, allowing the browser to take better advantage of the handsets it is on by using different features of the hardware.

Opera 11 extensions

Opera also announced that the next version of its desktop browser, Opera 11, will feature extensions. Extensions, already supported by browsers like Chrome and Firefox, allow users to install widgets onto their browser. More details on the feature can be found at Opera.