Vivaldi browser’s latest features include “fast forward and rewind”

Ordinarily I wouldn’t be writing multiple stories about technical previews of a new browser, but Jon von Tetzchner’s new Vivaldi keeps coming up with surprises even before it hits the beta stage.

Vivaldi’s second technical preview, released Thursday, adds expected features such as bookmarks, but it also includes new ideas such as “fast forward and rewind”. The fast forward feature acts as a navigational aid for jumping to the most logical next page – the next search result or forum thread page, or the next photo in a gallery. Fast rewind takes you back to the first page you visited on the site you’re reading.

The Opera founder’s new power browser is also gaining features that could well endear it to various niches. For those on slow or costly connections, there’s control over whether pages should load images or not, or only show cached images. For those surfing without a mouse, there’s an experimental new spatial navigation feature for jumping around pages with minimal key presses.

Interestingly, even at this early stage Vivaldi seems to be gunning for those who want to browse using widely-overlooked languages, adding options for Galician, Armenian, Macedonian, Belarusian and (no surprise, given von Tezchner’s origins) Icelandic. The second technical preview also adds support for 64-bit Windows and 32-bit and 64-bit Linux (actually, the 32-bit Linux support appeared last month, but it wasn’t included in the first technical preview release as such).

The first technical preview had 400,000 downloads in a week; since then the rush slowed, as it had a total download tally around the 700,000 mark. But remember, this is still just a technical preview for testing purposes – it’s not even at the alpha stage yet, let alone beta. Von Tetzchner and his largely ex-Opera team are trying to differentiate Vivaldi from its stripped-down rivals as much as they can, and it’s interesting to observe how they’re doing so.

With new mobile app, Duolingo helps you learn languages on the go

Duolingo, the language learning and crowdsourced translation platform from Recaptcha founder Luis von Ahn, launched its mobile app for the iPhone on Tuesday. The startup, which has raised more than $18 million, said it currently has about 300,000 active users on its website.

New Speeek! Apps Reduce Communication to Pointing at Your iPhone

picture-16When I lived in Japan, I had one of those little pocket talking electronic dictionaries. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve traveled in Asia, or maybe if you’ve just met Asian tourists. They’re really popular in Japan, and most keitai (cell phones) also come with them pre-installed.

Most, that is, except for the iPhone, which actually lacks many of the features Japanese customers have come to expect from their cell phones. Japanese cell phone service provider SoftBank, currently the exclusive provider of the iPhone in Japan, took matters into its own hands and developed the Speeek! series of applications to correct this.

They’ve now extended the line of Speeek! products available, and the new additions to the line will appeal to English-speaking iPhone users looking to travel abroad. New versions of the software just introduced include an English-to-Japanese and English-to-Chinese version, both of which will cost you $21.99. That seems like a lot when you consider it in the context of App Store pricing, but if you compare it to the $200 I spent on my little talking electronic dictionary, it’s not a bad deal at all. Read More about New Speeek! Apps Reduce Communication to Pointing at Your iPhone