Safari Public Beta

Hailed by Apple as the turbo browser for OS X, and by Apple CEO Steve Jobs as three-times faster than Internet Explorer for Mac, not only does Safari download HTML faster than any other Mac browser, it also has excellent JavaScript support and launches in a flash.

After Jobs’ keynote announcement at Macworld Expo San Francisco, Apple’s Web site recorded 300,000 downloads of Safari in 24 hours, and Macworld UK’s Forum users were testing it out on our site within minutes of the keynote ending.

Safari is streamlined and simple. It looks sleek and clean, but it’s the integration and well-thought out arrangement of the typical browser features that makes the most impact. For example, instead of being at the base of the browser window, the progress bar is a translucent blue bar situated in the address field. To the right of that, also within the address window, is a new feature called SnapBack, which, when clicked, will instantly ‘Snap’ you back to the top level of a Web site of search-results page. The Web’s most popular search engine, Google, is conveniently integrated into a separate field to the right of the top browser bar – enabling you to search in Google directly from within the Safari browser interface.

One of the best thought-out and re-hashed features in Safari is the ease with which you can save and organize bookmarked Web sites. A fresh approach by Apple was to include the bookmark window with the same browser window using drag-&-drop to place the addresses for Web sites in folders or the menu bar.

Having gone back to the drawing board, Apple has triumphed by producing the best, most user-friendly bookmark system in any browser. Accessible either via a drop-down menu or from the toolbar in the browser windows, it’s easy to rearrange, change, delete and re-order new and existing bookmarks. Upon installation, Safari automatically imports Explorer favourites or Netscape bookmarks. Considering the number of Web sites a person can visit and want to re-visit in just one online session, Apple has identified and addressed one of the most irritating, fiddly, hassles of browsing. Rendezvous is used by Safari to find any Web addresses on a local network – for printers, routers and admin etc. It then plonks them conveniently in your bookmark folder too. The History folder keeps track of anywhere you’ve visited, so even a week later you can go back and bookmark a site.

Address Book integration and automatic handling of downloaded files, disk images and decompression is also a huge boon. Safari also tidies up after your downloads decompress by clearing your desktop of the extra files usually left behind, and it can automatically block pop-up ads.


The beta version of Safari is a free download with a small bug icon for informing Apple of hiccups and buggy scripts – such as unexpected quitting and certain user-preference settings not staying put. True XML support is not yet implemented, and due to Safari being built upon the Konquerer rendering engine, the same page display issues will preside. Initial reports on Mac Web sites report some font-size rendering issues. Simply click on the bug button and a window pops up including the URL you are currently at with another window in which to send notes and description of the problem to Apple. Being a beta version, there are going to be problems and omissions, such as the missing ability to open an image in a window and have the dimensions of the image show up in the title bar, and the absence of tabbed browsing.

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