Yesterday morning, Apple released the public beta of Safari. Safari is Apple’s open source OSX only web browser based on KHTML, the Konqueror rendering engine. I’ve been playing with it all day and here are some of my first impressions.
The very first I always do whenever I get my hands on a new piece of software is go into the preferences and check out all of the settings you can manipulate. After doing that with Safari, you can tell right away that this is a “no nonsense” application. It’s made to do one thing and one thing only: browse the internet. You aren’t going to find auction trackers or messenger services built in here. There are no web page editors or built-in e-mail clients. It’s a very trimmed down, very light program and, as a result of this, is very quick and responsive.
First with the good (and there’s a lot to be happy about). Rendering times are fast, though I don’t think it’s as fast as Chimera, another very trim and sleek browser based off the Gecko engine and also for OSX only. Program navigation and window scrolling are definitely faster on Safari then on any other browser on OSX (or any other type of OSX app in that case). The overall appearance is simple, but might be a little bland for most people’s taste (total lack of color when compared to other browsers). I tend to like it a lot because of its consistency with other Apple applications. The navigation buttons (the little there are) are small and simple. Organizing bookmarks is an absolute breeze, especially If you’ve used other iApps. There’s also a built-in pop-up blocker that works beautifully and feature called SnapBack that helps you backtrack through your page navigation. All very nice.
Now Safari is currently a public beta release and you can tell. Sometimes pages wont render correctly. Working with any kind of Shockwave content is a little on the slow side. Then there’s the occasional crash. It’s nothing that will pull me away from using Safari as my main OSX web browser for now. The bugs are really small fries for me because I know they will be fixed before a final release. What I am upset about is the lack of basic “features” that should really be considered a necessity in any modern web browser. Tab browsing (as found in almost all Gecko-based browsers) is a must for me. I mean how can having multiple browser windows arranged within one window be a bad idea? Apple missed the boat on this one and it’s inexcusable. Another item completely missing from this release is the auto-complete forms. If you do a lot of shopping over the internet like I do, then you really come to appreciate this feature when putting in addresses for shipping or billing. Again, this is something that just needs to be in any web browser you’re asking me to use.
Overall, this is a good start to what could be a great browser. “Refreshing” is a word that keeps coming to mind. It integrates very nicely with some of the other iApps and it’s going to remain my main browser for the time being. If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think. Don’t forget to send your feedback over to Apple. They do seem to listen and will act on what the community has to say. More to come.