Safari 4- A Deep insight!

Despite all the hyperbole over Apple's "world's fastest and most innovative browser" claim, there's a lot to genuinely like in the beta of Safari 4 -- along with a few minor quibbles.

Apple boasts that the Nitro JavaScript engine in Safari 4 runs JavaScript 4.2 times faster than Safari 3, up to 30 times faster than Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7, and more than 3 times faster than Mozilla's Firefox 3. It loads HTML pages three times faster than IE 7 and almost three times faster than Firefox 3.

While we're all hopped up on the speed-claim bandwagon, Apple says Safari 4 is the first browser to pass the Web Standards Project's Acid3 test, which examines how well a browser adheres to CSS, JavaScript, XML and SVG Web standards that are specifically designed for dynamic Web applications. Cool. (But some other browser makers aren't particularly interested or concerned with the test.)

Amidst all these claims there's that element of thumbs down..
At first glance, Safari 4 for Mac OS X appears remarkably similar to Safari 3. Now, though, there's a little bug icon in the right side of the toolbar for reporting bugs, the reload button has disappeared (but is now at the end of the URL's address field), and the tabs are at the top -- above the address bar in the spot that used to be taken by a page's title. It's a little like Chrome, for those who've tried outGoogle's new browser.

At first, the new tabs are painful, so much so that I went looking for Safari 3 ... and realized my machine ditched it in favor of Safari 4. Sure, I could have snagged it via Time Machine or simply downloaded it, but I pressed on.

The net result of the new tabs, however, is that the typical toolbar area takes up about 25 percent less space. Now, instead of four rows of tabs, bookmarks, address, and title fields, there are just three rows. It gives you a bit of extra vertical space for Web page content. Handy.

(Is it all in preparation for a screen-constrained Mac netbook, perhaps?)

The Cover Flow and Top Sites

It didn't take long for Apple to get hammered with criticism over a couple of its eye-candy features, Cover Flow and Top Sites, but those critics just don't understand -- humans are a visually oriented species, and these two features have the power to make browsing better than ever before.

Here's something that you'd have met with. Sometimes when we accidentally close windows that we don't mean to -- or close a window that takes out a series of tabs -- and finding the page that we want to return to in a long history list can be hit or miss (mostly miss). Then we end up googling again until we eventually find my way back. Safari 4's Cover Flow history feature changes everything.

Unlike the not-so-useful Cover Flow in iTunes and on the iPhone, Cover Flow for history is amazing. It gives you a set of pictures of the Web pages you've visited in chronological order, making it surprisingly easy to recognize the page you want to return to.

Apple also has two additional features available from the History drop down menu: Reopen Last Closed Window and Reopen All Windows From Last Session. These options can help you return to the sites you want if you accidentally close a window (or make it easier to snoop on others).

In addition, Apple has improved the address field by making it smarter -- start typing an address and it automatically completes Web addresses by displaying an easy-to-read list of suggestions from Top Sites, bookmarks and browsing history.

On the downside, Safari 4 doesn't boast the plug-in capabilities that come with Firefox 3, and Apple hasn't indicated much interest in fostering a plug-in community. PC users, though, might appreciate the new Windows-native look of their version of Safari, which uses standard Windows font rendering and native title bar, borders and toolbars.

For previous Safari 3 users, Safari 4 is definitely a worthy upgrade. And so far, over a few days and gobs of pages, it hasn't crashed once.


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