Apple Safari 4 Beta: First Look
Apple released the new Safari 4 public beta version for the Mac OS X and Windows platforms yesterday. Apple claims Safari 4 to be faster than other browsers and also to be the most ‘innovative web browser’. Safari 4 has an exhaustive list of 150 new features, of which, some are new while others are improvisations of old ones. We took a quick look at what’s new and what’s improved in the new Safari 4 beta browser.
Revamped with a new user interface, Safari 4 looks are similar to Google’s Chrome on Windows XP systems. The Windows Native feature of Safari 4 beta will give a native application like look and feel on Windows Vista systems. Here’s a small snapshot of what we liked and didn’t like in the new public beta.
As always, Apple never fails to impress with its eye-candy stuff. Safari 4 beta has a flashy new Top Sites, a frequently visited list of sites in thumbnail format. Top Sites can accommodate 20/24 thumbnails at a time. To switch between thumbnail sizes, click on Edit button.
Similar to Google Chrome’s ‘Most Recent’ page and Opera’s ‘Speed Dial,’ these thumbnails can be arranged and pinned as per user preference. To do that, click on Edit in the Top Site page and drag the thumbnails to preferred positions. By default, the top sites appear, based on your preferred websites, usage statistics, and other browsing behavior.
History Cover Flow
Apple’s Cover Flow feature found while viewing media files on iTunes, iPhone, or iPod Touch arrives on the Safari 4 beta. Cover Flow enables flipping between the website histories of visited pages. The Browsing History and Bookmarks will now be viewable through Cover Flow with a thumbnail or entire page review. Since the browser is still in beta, the thumbnail viewing in Cover Flow might lag a bit on systems with less memory and CPU power.
Safari 4 beta hits 100/100 in the Acid3 Test, and thus competes with Opera 10 beta.
Lots of big and small improvisations and much needed features have been added, like the smart address field and the Smart Search suggestions. Tabs can be moved freely by holding the upper right-hand corner of each tab.
You’ll find that the blue progress bar indicator is replaced with .gif animation at the end of the Address bar. Lots of other improvements to Safari 4 have been included in the 150 new features list.
Looking for some hidden hacks in the beta? Caius “Hardcore” Durling of Random Genius had put up a post about the four hidden preferences in the Safari 4 beta. To make use of the listed hidden preferences, the preferences.plist file has to be edited ‘manually’ using a text editor that is XML friendly.
The preferences.plist is located in ‘C:\Documents and Settings\Your Username\Application Data\Apple Computer\Safari’ for Windows XP/Vista users. In case you’ve made wrong changes, there’s always a Reset Safari option in the Menu.
Safari 4 lives up to Apple’s quote ‘Browsing made beautiful. And smart.’ However, details about certain crucial features such as phishing protection are not clear. Opera’s real-time fraud protection feature immediately tells the user if the visited site is a phishing site by checking with the online list of phishing sites. On the other hand, Firefox uses a list of blacklisted phishing sites, which is stored locally.
Apart from that, official plug-in support is still missing, along with a couple of other features. Also, Safari 4 remains a resource hog and we’d really like to see if there’s any memory usage settings feature incorporated, like the one found in Adobe Photoshop CS4.
Apple’s new Safari 4 public beta, which arrives with a plethora of improvements and a slew of new features, surely deserves to be used at least once.