Safari 4: Rapid! Revolutionary! And Mostly Unnecessary

By  |  Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 9:03 am

safariiconApple Tuesday release Safari 4 on Tuesday, promising the “world’s fastest web browser” and exciting new features. Yes, this browser is fast Nitro makes this browser quite fast, and it works well — I’m using it right now to type out this post. While I have not tested it on Windows, a Microsoftie reported into me not too long ago that Safari 4 is indeed faster than IE8 on the platform.

Really this release of Apple’s browser appears to be more of a window dressing than an actual honest-to-god upgrade of the platform. Safari now borrows cover flow technology from iTunes, which allows you to see current previews of your “top sites” when opening a new tab, or searching through your bookmarks (here, the pages look as you last visited them).

Search has been modified to actually remember information within the pages in your history. This would allow you to search through the information contained within the pages, which is probably one of the most useful “new” features in this release.

Overall however, Safari 4 when you take out the Cover Flow really is more of a point release than a dramatic retooling of the software. However, with so much done already in the browser space, these days it’s pretty tough to be original…

Update: Found my first showstopping bug with S4 (at least for me). The browser does not work correctly with WordPress’ Dashboard on the Mac version, which obviously throws a wrench in allowing me to put it to regular use.

And before I hit save, on the subject of my calling the update “unnecessary,” which some have taken issue with: my point is that the new visual features do not really add all that much value. I did say the browser is fast, I’ve updated that to make it clearer that this is Nitro.

 
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13 Comments For This Post

  1. bob Says:

    Ed – what’s with all the negativity? What are your thoughts on Nitro the JavaScript engine? You are a sour puss… I think integration of Cover Flow and Top Sites is kinda cool – a blatant iTunes rip off.. But you seem to be negative on Apple’s Safari for reasons clumsily articulated here. I think it’s fine to criticize Safari.. but don’t be superficial. I think you should take a look at some of the under-the-hood features. Have you done any testing? (of course not yet)… lastly – what’s with the attitude?

  2. sfmitch Says:

    The browser is, arguably, the most important application on a computer. So, a new release is a pretty big deal.

    I am fine with incremental improvements – I use Safari and if the next version is faster and has a few new features than that is good.

    To say that an update to a major browser is mostly unnecessary is pure rubbish.

  3. Ed Oswald Says:

    bob, I’m on it right now. Don’t jump to conclusions or ASSUME. Sorry I am not jumping up and down for everything that Apple releases. They are a human company after all.. ­čśë

  4. theInnocent Says:

    Are you forgetting HTML 5, CSS, and the new Java script engine…. Not window dressing features

  5. Josh Powell Says:

    What I take from this article, is that web developers will be very happy with the new Safari as it provides a lot of things that web developers care about: new javascript engine, html 5, etc, and only a few things that consumers care about: coverflow and Top sites. It’s not that this release is unimportant, it’s that the focus seems to be on the developers.

    It is very important for a succesful browser to cater to developers; make it easier to develop on/for and developers will go to it. With developers going to it, more and better aps/web sites will start to use it, which means more consumers will use it. Obviously, that works backwards as well, more consumers does bring more developers.

  6. Christen da Costa Says:

    For some reason Safari never supported WordPress…to this day, and from here on out I use Firefox and Tab+Apple in between the two for writing.

  7. David Worthington Says:

    parts of html 5… the entire spec is not finished yet. IE8 has some of it implemented also… chatted with chris wilson about that last year.

  8. Brock Says:

    Safari has had the search-includes-page-content since version 3 on the Mac ÔÇö┬ánot sure about Windows. I use this feature on a daily basis.

    @Christen: I have had zero problems with WordPress and Safari (except for Google Gears not working with the nightly builds, but that’s pretty much to be expected and not at all a showstopper).

  9. rb Says:

    This post is kind of a joke, how can you have such concrete opinion without any quality time spent testing? I think you ought to go and do a good quality review and then come back and report on it. I don’t know why everyone is so interested in “eye candy” and if there is no new “eye candy” nothing has changed. It bugs me to no end when I hear people say well Apple is not adding any new features to Snow Leopard, it is a joke there are so many new features and additions to the OS that it is not even funny. 10.6 is going to be the best version of OS X to date. Who cares if it doesn’t look any different to 10.5, under the hood it is light years ahead. Back to Safari, Safari is kind of in the same boat as there are quite a few changes under the hood and is going to be a much better browsers especially when devs start to take full advantage of the new additions. You reviewers need to provide better reviews and not just personal rushed opinions. Harry you are a great journalist and an excellent person to look at to emulate and I would hope you would hold all your employees up to your quality standards as they are a model for this business.

  10. Jeff Says:

    If Safari 4 is rapid and revolutionary, then why is it unnecessary?
    None of what you’ve written since you wrote the headline have answered that question satisfactorily in my opinion.

  11. Dave Perry Says:

    Though Chrome has the same engine it feels better than Safari. And as long as most websites serves the market-leader browser IE&FF, niche-products like Safari should not only comply with standards but also the proprietary code. As long as some major websites don’t work properly with Safari/Chrome, they are not a serious replacement of FF/IE/Opera.

  12. Ed Oswald Says:

    rb: Lighten up.

  13. em Says:

    I think this article is an unfair criticism of Safari 4. “Mostly unnecessary”? No way.
    From what I have experienced so far, Safari 4 represents a quantum leap in performance; and stated by someone else, a browser is where one spends most of one’s time on the computer.

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