Apple has released an updated version of its Beachboys-inspired Web browser beta Safari, which it recommends all users download.

The company also announced that Safari has been downloaded over 500,000 times since its release.

"Mac users have gone wild over Safari," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. "With its speed, innovative new features and ease of use, Safari is the Mac browser our users have been waiting for."

Tests show that Safari is the fastest browser ever created for the Mac, loading pages over three times faster than Internet Explorer, and capable of running JavaScript twice as fast as that browser. It is designed with Apple's legendary ease-of-use in mind.

Safari has Google search capabilities integrated into the toolbar; it offers a SnapBack feature, which instantly snaps back to search results or the top level of any Web site after browsing down one or more levels; and offers a completely new way to name, organize and present bookmarks. Also welcome is the inclusion of automatic pop-up ad blocking.

It's a 3MB download and requires just 7.1MB disc space. It requires Mac OS X 10.2. The final version ships "later in 2003", Apple says.