Opera updates browser to version 9.5, touts faster speed

Version 9.5 gets anti-hack tool and a beefed-up address bar

Opera unveiled a major update to its flagship browser that features anti-malware blocking, bookmark synchronization between devices and an improved search function built into the address bar.

Opera 9.5 also boasts performance increases, said the Norwegian company, and is more than twice as fast as version 9.2 when rendering JavaScript and HTML.

Coming out the same day as the third release candidate for Firefox 3.0, which will ship next Tuesday, Opera 9.5 sports Opera Link, offering integrated synchronization of bookmarks and other notes between multiple machines, as well as between the desktop version of the browser and Opera Mini, the edition scaled for mobile phones.

Although it accounts for a miniscule share of the desktop browser market, Opera is the leading browser on mobile phones, including handsets such as HTC's Touch Diamond and most of Nokia's line.

Also new to version 9.5 are an anti-hack tool and a beefed-up address bar. The former relies on data from HauteSecure to blacklist sites hosting malware or flagged for doing drive-by downloads of malicious code, while the latter has been compared to Firefox's so-called Awesome Bar, which dynamically lists previously-visited sites based on keywords typed into the address bar.

Opera has tagged its address bar addition as "Quick Find," and said it indexes not only titles and URLs -- which Firefox 3.0 does -- but also site content so that users can type in a word or phrase they remember from a site to locate it again.

According to the most recent data from metrics firm Net Applications Inc., Opera accounted for .07% of all browsers used in May, putting it a distant fourth after Microsoft Corp. 's Internet Explorer (73.8%), Firefox (18.4%) and Apple Inc.'s Safari (6.3%).

Although Opera's share remains small, it has grown by approximately 43% in the last 12 months, according to Net Applications' numbers.

Opera 9.5, available in 30 different languages, can be downloaded free of charge from the company's site for Windows 95 or later, Mac OS 10.3 or later, or Linux.

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