Opera has announced the forthcoming launch of Opera 11, and will soon release an alpha preview of the web browser. Opera has stated that the next version of the browser will add official support for extensions, the experience-enhancing (although sometimes performance-reducing) plugins that are popular features of rival web browsers.

Opera made the announcement during its its Up North Web global press day yesterday, where the company reviewed a handful of key updates across its line of browsers for Mac and iPhone, as well as Windows and Android.

Interestingly, Opera has supported extension-like add-ons to its desktop browsers for some time, such as widgets, skins and, more recently, Opera Unite plugins that add everything from media streaming servers to instant messaging from the browser.

But the addition of plugin support as well as a standards-based toolset for building them shows that Opera is now willing to align itself a little more closely with the rest of the browsing industry. Firefox popularised browser extensions, and both Chrome and Safari have seen their own success by opening up this kind of extensibility.

Also slated for a major update is Opera Mini, the company's slimmed-down browser for the iPhone and iPod touch. Opera says the new version will finally bring pinch-to-zoom and hardware acceleration to improve performance.

Opera is being vague with actual release dates, but the versions of both the desktop and iPhone should arrive sometime soon.

See also:

Opera 10.53 review

Opera Unite review

Mozilla Firefox 4 review