The CTIA Wireless mobile phone conference this April may be much lower key in 2009, but that doesn't mean there won't be news.
In advance of the show, Opera Software announced on Thursday an update to Opera Mobile, its full mobile browser for Windows Mobile and Symbian phones (download current version). While Opera Mobile 9.7 is intended for Opera's enterprise level B2B clients, like carriers and cell phone manufacturers, the news still offers a glimpse of what's in store for the consumer download version that Opera expects to release "in the near future."
The most consumer-friendly feature, and the one that Opera sorely needs to excel on, is Opera Mobile 9.7's support for Web technologies like Flash and Ajax. In layman's terms, that means the browser will be able to better handle sites like Facebook and stream YouTube videos using Flash Lite. Video is huge here--while Opera is a dominant mobile browser, it has been slower building muscle for video playback, while rivals like Skyfire have made longer strides.
In addition to bringing on wider support for Web standards, Opera Mobile 9.7 will feature Opera Turbo, the Norwegian company's new compression engine. Previewed in mid-March, Opera says Turbo can squeeze down data by 80 percent, clearing through slow and stubborn network connections quicker. Also found on the back end, says Opera, will be the Presto 2.2 rendering engine, the same tool that brings Opera 10 alpha for the desktop its higher speeds compared to Opera's current desktop browser.
Lastly, Opera Mobile 9.7 boasts that it passes the Acid 3 test of Web standards with 100 percent, and that it supports Google Gears and the Open GL ES standard for graphics acceleration. The upcoming consumer version will share these upgrades, and in addition, is expected to have a new widgets manager that run independently from the mobile browser.