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In the last few days I’ve watched how columns from around the web have bashed the latest beta version of the Safari browser. It’s too much glitter, it ripped off Chrome, this that and the other, all in all very nasty comments.

Well today I’m going to play devil’s advocate and tell you what I actually liked about Safari 4.

safari 4 browser review

First of all, there’s nothing wrong about copying features from competitors – once and for all – we should establish that this actually improves the experience for end-users. It is how the tech industry has worked for years and this “˜tradition’ isn’t about to change anytime soon. Everything from mobile phones to operating systems are being knocked off and implemented and at the end of the day the innovator gets the geek cred; the user doesn’t care. He’s just happy using the Top Sites feature.

Safari 4 brings us improved performance all around, from startup times to page loads and some changes in the user interface. Safari now uses the latest version of WebKit, and improved script interpreter, and puts the tabs in the title bar – a very good design choice that saves space especially on small resolution devices. Why isn’t this better? I can’t understand why people are so upset about a change in design that is clearly beneficial.

safari 4 browser

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The Top SItes feature, as you probably know, was one of the new things Google Chrome brought to the table. Chrome’s implementation of the feature is admittedly barebones – I actually like the curved view in Safari, which brings me back memories of Minority Report; all we need now is the touchscreen.

There are a couple of tweaks they made to the interface since the last iteration: no more grey gradient menus and OS X background for the configuration windows and notifications.

Performance-wise we see an improvement – it uses just slightly more resources than Firefox. You can try this too; I opened Google, Google Reader and Yahoo. 3 tabs for each browser.

safari 4 features

Apple haters – close that Gmail window, don’t send me hate mail – but I actually would switch to Safari 4 if I would be able to port 4 extensions I can’t live without: Customize Google, StumbleUpon, AdBlock, and NoScript. I got spoiled – I didn’t see an ad since last year – and I couldn’t take it. An even bigger issue is not having NoScript to protect me from scripting exploits.

As always, I love to read your comments and reply, so don’t be shy and tell me what you think about Safari 4 browser; what’s bugging you, what could be better.

  1. pavlo
    June 10, 2009 at 4:09 am

    I tried Safari 4 yesterday and I was not impressed. They've done away with the blue progress bar! That's a backwards step. There's no way of knowing whether your page is actually progressing in its download -and if it is - how fast it's loading. That alone was enough to send me back to Safari 3. My perception was that it was very slow to load pages.

  2. Ashok
    March 31, 2009 at 3:37 am

    compare with firefox safari beta taking too much of memory.

  3. Chowder
    March 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    I heard that it wasn't secure as other browsers.

  4. Derek
    March 15, 2009 at 9:38 am

    I've been having a lot of problems with Firefox crashing daily on my Macbook Pro, so I've started using Safari 4 beta instead. Firefox started using way too much CPU while sitting idle, and its CPU usage would skyrocket to 99% indefinitely; I would have to kill it and restart it once a day.

    With the SafariBlock (ad blocking) and SafariStand (I use it for keyword searches right now), there's nothing I miss from Firefox yet. It's a little heartbreaking, personally, since I've used Firefox since it was called Phoenix several years ago. Recently, it's just become too unstable for me to use.

    For the record, I tried Opera for some time before Safari4, but a couple things annoyed me: I really like 1Password (no Opera support) and that there's no way to "Open in a New Tab in the background" in Opera. This seems like a no-brainer for a configuration option.

    Also for the record, I believe Opera's Speed Dial predates Google Chrome's "top sites" by some time. I prefer their Opera's to it a bit better: you add your own sites instead of showing the sites you visit the most.

    I'm looking forward to trying out Google Chrome on OS X when it's released.

    • Rarst
      March 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

      >there’s no way to “Open in a New Tab in the background” in Opera. This seems like a no-brainer for a configuration option.

      Middle click. Don't remember if it is default, Shift+Middle click to configure.

      I am so tired of people saying Opera can't do this, that... Opera can. :)

    • Doug
      October 16, 2009 at 5:49 am

      If lots of people are saying "Opera can't do this or that" when in fact it can, it sounds to me like the UI needs a bit of a rethink. If it has features that lots of users can't find, that's almost as bad as not having the features...

      Overall I quite like Opera, but for me it's competing with Safari for title of "slowest browser I've ever seen". Maybe it's just me, but the ones that claim to be mind-abusingly fast are always the ones that take 2 minutes to load a mainstream homepage like apple.com. It was the same as far back as Netscape 2 if I remember rightly.

  5. Michele
    March 14, 2009 at 6:35 am

    It's very shameful that Safari has a "popup allowed" ON/OFF.
    Real browsers have an allow/block list for this purpose.

    • Doug
      October 16, 2009 at 5:41 am

      Having a global "allow popups" option is no bad thing per se. More options is always good IMHO. But yes, ONLY having a global option, and failing to provide a site-by-site option to complement it, is pretty slack in this day and age.

      And by the way, do any other Windows users notice that it's now using the standard Windows UI for the window borders (a.k.a. the "chrome", thanks Google for pinching that term)? My Safari 3 was using a Mac-based chrome and I happened to like it! (And please don't tell me "start using a Mac then", I can't afford one!)

  6. Mackenzie
    March 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Holy crud! "Uses slightly more memory than Firefox" is a performance improvement??? I thought Firefox was the most bloated, most memory-leaking browser out there. Now you're telling me that Firefox-levels of memory use are an improvement for another browser? O_O And you're pointing to 150+mb of memory usage as good.

    With Firefox 2, wasn't it 80mb of usage and everybody up in arms? And now the memory usage doubles and it's considered low? What?

    • Stefan Neagu
      March 14, 2009 at 12:51 am

      RAM memory has consistently cheapened over time. Earlier versions of Safari used more memory than Safari beta 4 and I've got the screenshots to prove it. From the Safari perspective, it's an improvement. It's like saying that a VW Beetle is faster than the previous version but not faster than Mercedes SLK. If you're looking for extreme performance, you should use WebKit or Chrome.

  7. 1c3m4n
    March 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Safari 4 is the ugliest browser I have used. The native system look on XP is really bad. I can't belive that this was made by Apple. By trying to ape Chrome's look, Safari 4 looks like a pile of crap.

    Aside from the looks, I find it really fast and easy to use. I would like to use this more but only if the look gets fixed

    • Stefan Neagu
      March 13, 2009 at 1:11 pm

      Well, I can't really agree with you on this. Safari looks much better than Firefox for example; it's more streamlined and I like the elegance of the two tone look.

      "Beauty is in the beholders eye"

  8. ZOOM
    March 13, 2009 at 5:42 am

    I use Safari for 5 minutes after then i unisntall it.Dislike it very much

  9. Rahul
    March 12, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I loved Safari beta 4.

  10. BCK
    March 12, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I hate it. Sure its nice but it pisses me off to no end in one re-guard, opening links in new windows instead of new tabs. The Mac version from what I am told has an option to allow links to open in new tabs, but the windows version requires you to do ctrl+click any time you want to open in a new tab. As a person who uses google reader and the keyboard I end up with 20+ windows open.

    I also don't really see a need to use it one windows, as none of the extensions that work on macs work on windows. Might as well start using chrome and wait for extension compatibility to show up.

  11. Rarst
    March 12, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Safari's giant list of features and claiming some of them as new and original got plenty of people pissed. Anything wrong with angry about being lied to?

    Copying and improving features is all nice until you summon marketing bubble and try to take credit for things that were done years before you.

    • Stefan Neagu
      March 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

      Rarst, you make a good point. They shouldn't have touted Safari as being the innovator.

  12. Windows Guy
    March 12, 2009 at 4:04 am

    I don't say I love or hate safari bacuse it's still in Beta. Yes, many features are similar to Chrome or ripped of Chrome. But there are a few good features like history with thumbnails and show top sites.

    Every browser is copying at least something from other browsers.

  13. Dallas
    March 11, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Well, I love Safari, and cannot stand Firefox. I love it's fastness. However, you should have used it on a Mac instead of a Windows machine.

    • Stefan Neagu
      March 12, 2009 at 1:03 am

      I personally am saving money to buy a Mac by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

  14. Jochen
    March 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I love it too -- if it wouldn't crash my Mail.app on my Mac.

    • Stefan Neagu
      March 12, 2009 at 1:09 am

      Did you try reporting that to Apple? Maybe it is a bug they're going to fix.

  15. redwall_hp
    March 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    "It’s too much glitter, it ripped off Chrome, this that and the other, all in all very nasty comments."

    For the second time in as many days...oh I'll just quote from the email I sent the other day:

    Chrome and Safari are both based on WebKit. If you go to WebKit.org, you'll note that the project's logo looks very much like the Safari logo, save for the gold border around the compass, due to it's ties to Apple.

    There's no "copying" going around. If anything, Google was the one doing the "copying," taking Safari 4 and repackaged it as Chrome. The tabs and thumbnail are most likely part of the main source, which Apple has been contributing to as Safari 4 has been in development. When Google built Chrome, they used WebKit and implemented those parts of the source in their browser. (I'm sure the features are controlled via some sort of API call.)

    • Stefan Neagu
      March 12, 2009 at 1:02 am

      "taking Safari 4 and repackaged it as Chrome" -- You can't really say that since WebKit is open source.
      What happened here isn't exactly copying because they use the same framework, I understand that; the discussions is about who implemented the feature first.
      If you read the license you'll see that Apple, or Google, aren't binded to contribute back all of their changes. They could still have different code.

  16. Adi
    March 11, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I think these reviews are just out of hatred.
    I don't think Safari is that bad either...

  17. Kris
    March 11, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I love it. It looks great on my mac and I'd switch to it if I could use extensions.

  18. Stefan Neagu
    March 11, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Here are some of the reviews that influenced my position on the subject: http://tinyurl.com/paulthurrott1 ; http://tinyurl.com/arstechnica1 ; http://tinyurl.com/informationweek1 ; http://tinyurl.com/CRNcom1 ;

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion - I merely expressed mine. Like you said, maybe it's just Windows.

  19. Aaron
    March 11, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I like almost everything on Safari 4 so far except for the Top Sites no being added or recognized automatically and also it's not possible to configure opening every link in a new tab with a single click (I mean without pressing the control key) just like Chrome or IE do.

    • Alfa
      March 11, 2009 at 7:56 pm

      You should be able to configure this. I know it can be done on the Mac version. Go to preferences, click tabs, the first line on Mac says "Cmd+click opens a link in a new tab". Probably Ctrl+Click on Windows, but unclicking that should make links open in a new tab, while Ctrl+Click makes it a new window.

    • Aaron
      March 12, 2009 at 10:41 am

      Thanks for your comments Alfa, yes, I'm using windows. and if I untick the "Ctrl-click opens a link in a new tab" then the option "Ctrl-Alt-Click: opens a link in a new tab" is enabled. And that is even worse than the first option. Thanks again for your help anyway.

  20. Zee
    March 11, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Seriously? Hating Safari 4? I've heard plenty more good things from people and sites than bad...maybe it's just windows?

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