Wed, 25 Feb 2009 First Look Review: Safari 4 Beta
Improvements abound in updated browser
- Manufacturer: Apple
- Pros: Fast due to Nitro Engine, HTML 5 and CSS effects support, ability to know which sites have updates in Top Sites, searches text online as well as URL's you have visited, full-blown Web inspector, true Windows-native appearance.
- Cons: Hard to hand-time any differences in loading speed on fast connections, “love it” or “hate it” new tab location, still a beta release.
- Min specs: Compatible with Mac OSX 10.4.11 (Tiger), 10.5.6 (Leopard), Safari 4 requires Security Update 2009-001. Safari 4 is designed to run on any Intel-based Mac or a Mac with a PowerPC G5, G4 or G3 processor and built-in FireWire.
- Price: Free
- Star rating:
Another feature on the Top Sites page is a search box for searching your surfing history. Click in the search box, and you’ll see a Cover Flow-like view of web pages you’ve visited.
As you type your search terms, the number of displayed sites decreases as sites are eliminated.
Safari 4 not only searches titles and URLs, but also the full text of the pages you’ve visited.
Safari: Search all history, including full page text, using Safari 4's new Cover Flow view mode.
So you don’t need to remember something that was in the title or URL of the site you’re looking for; any term that was on the page will work just as well.
You’ll also see a Cover Flow-like mode while viewing your History or Bookmarks pages; just like in the Finder, Cover Flow in Safari shows thumbnails (of sites, in this case) above the usual list-like view showing the title and URL for each site.
User interface changes
If you use tabs, another very-visible change is that tabs have now moved to the very top of the browser window - in older versions of Safari, they appeared below the bookmarks bar.
By putting the tabs in the position where most windows have a title bar, Safari’s developers have provided more room for Web page content - an important consideration for laptop users. I expect this new tab location to be one of Safari 4’s more-divisive new features; a quick poll of some friends and coworkers showed a near 50-50 split between the “love it” and “hate it” camps. (If you’d like your tabs to return to their old location, all you need is a relatively simple Terminal command.)
The URL and Google Search fields have gained some serious smarts in this release of Safari. As you type in the URL field, Safari displays a drop-down menu showing what it thinks the best match is; you can load that page at any time by just pressing Return.
Below the Top Hit, Safari displays two additional sections, showing possible matches from your history and your bookmarks.
Google Goodies: Safari 4 shows Google suggestions, historical search suggestions, and a find-on-page entry in its drop-down menu.
The Google Search box also displays a drop-down menu with three sections (assuming you’re viewing a Web page when you use the Google search box).
The top section displays suggested searches from Google, based on what you’ve typed so far.
The second section displays recent searches that you’ve run, and the last section (really just one line) shows you how many matches for your search term exist on the currently-loaded page.
If you select this last entry, Safari will dim the screen and highlight the items on the page that match your search terms - just as if you’d pressed Command-F to use the find-on-page feature.