Apple released the public beta for Safari 4 on Tuesday; this is a major revision of their web browser.
Safari 4 has had some great key features added. They have introduced a tool similar to Opera’s Speed Dial, where your most visited or user selected pages are displayed as thumbnails for easy and quick navigation. The Google Chrome web browser also has a similar feature. With Safari 4 Cover Flow is now integrated as a tool to browse history or bookmarks. There is a new feature for the indexing and searching of browser history. There is a new Nitro Engine for Safari, which Apple claims makes Safari the fastest browser yet. Safari 4 now ships with Developer Tools and a Windows native format. As a Toronto web design company we have to stay informed of any compatibility issues posed by new web browser releases and we are pleased to see that the Safari 4 updates are mostly cosmetic.
One of the major changes they have made which may also be hard to adjust to is the location of the tab bar, it is now above the address bar. This is interesting because Apple tends to set themselves apart from other GUIs. Apple usually has good reasons for changes like these.
In Safari 4 I noticed pages load reasonably faster than Firefox, Opera, the previous version of Safari and of course Internet Explorer. Pages with only HTML loaded faster, along with media rich websites. Even a mix of both flash and HTML web pages two were faster.
In Safari 4, the Search Bar’s autofill is much more powerful. It now provides a split up list, similar to Spotlight, that has previous searches and suggestions based on what you have typed so far. Also, the Address Bar performs much more like Firefox’s Superbar than previous version, by searching the text, name, address and tags of a website as you type it in.
The improvements are all good, solid worthwhile changes that I don’t think anyone will get too hung up on. Moving the tab bar is a bold move, but, it seems to work and uses screen real estate a little better than before. The implementation of Top Sites is great, and if you haven’t used Opera before I think you will be surprised at how much you come to rely on this feature. The Bookmarks layout change is also a good one, I think the inclusion of Cover Flow is a little extraneous, but I find it a little gimmicky no matter the implementation.
Overall, I think this is a great revision that keeps Apple bumping shoulders with all the best browsers. All the new features seem to be logical; they are some useful steps towards an ideal web browser.