Opera today released version 11.50 of the underdog browser, introducing password sync, Speed Dial extensions, and a new design.

The new design is much lighter and more minimalistic than its predecessors, and is in fact called Featherweight by the Opera team.

Speed Dial extensions give you a customizable dashboard of information. The idea isn’t new — iGoogle has done the same thing for a long time — but it’s a handy thing to have nonetheless.

Most importantly, passwords can now be synchronized through Opera Link, along with your bookmarks. This is a feature of Google Chrome that, in conjunction with LastPass for shared passwords, I find indispensable.

It looks like Opera is playing catch-up with Chrome, but the browser has always been an indispensable part of the market despite its smaller userbase, using that nimbleness to test and drive the adoption of new features that bigger browsers wouldn’t otherwise.