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Until now I’ve put Safari firmly in the same box of horrible things as Internet Explorer – a sluggish, default browser that’s only purpose in life is to download other shinier and faster browsers. Safari 6 – which comes with Mountain Lion – may have just changed all that.
Here’s 4 reasons I’ll be switching my primary browser to Safari, and ditching Chrome.
Fast… Faster Even Than Chrome
A bold statement, but it certainly feels like it. Webkit 2 – the underlying rendering framework of Safari, has been around since version 5.1, while Chrome is still built upon the older version. Perhaps it’s because Apple knows how best to take advantage of the OS. Perhaps it’s because I’ve yet to install a mountain of plugins. The difference is noticeable though, and it’s enough to make a difference for users like myself who open a few hundred sites over the course of a single day.
Speed tests conducted by Tekna designs seem to suggest that Chrome is technically still outperforming Safari by a small amount,but on my system the same benchmarks showed Safari to be significantly faster.
Tab Access From Other Devices
Tab syncing is all the rage nowadays, but can be clunky for power users. Rather than attempt to sync all your open tabs between devices – which would have resulted in either tabs being lost with sync mismatches, or far too many tabs being opened at once – Safari takes the approach of simply showing you which tabs open elsewhere on other devices, and giving you the choice of opening them.
Just click the iCloud button (assuming you’ve got iCloud set up on all your devices), and you’ll see a list of tabs open, everywhere. It’s an elegant and practical solution.
It works really well in practice – if I sit here thinking – I had this awesome tab open on my iPad (I’m running the developer preview of iOS6 – for now, you’ll only be able to use this if you have more than one Mac running Mountain Lion), but it’s all the way downstairs – I can simply open the tab browser, find it, and open it while I’m at the desktop. An elegant, simple solution that solves the problem without complicating things.
Slick Gesture-Based Open Tab Overview Screen
Hello, my name is James, and I’m a tab abuser. I have at least 20 tabs open at all times, per window; and often two or three windows. Tabs become pretty useless at this level, where all you can see is the favicon or worse still – just the first letter of the site and no icon at all.
The new tab preview screen in Safari may be just what I need. With one simple pinch gesture, the current web page zooms out, and you can quickly flick through all the open tabs – another click to zoom back into one. Most importantly, it’s fast. You don’t need to wait for a mini preview of each site to load, nothing else needs to be rendered.
Reading List, Synced
This has actually been in Safari for a while now too, but since I haven’t touched it before now, it’s certainly a nice feature to have. Essentially, its the same as Read it Later, whereby you can add an article to your reading list, and it’ll be be saved in a queue of unread pages. Your reading list persists across different devices and is baked into the browser – you needn’t bother with additional accounts or plugins.
Not only that, but it works offline – saving a copy of the entire page – so as long your iPad is synced up, you can read the page (as is, with all images and page layout) without an Internet connection. Classy.
This update brings Safari to the big boy’s table, and puts it right up there alongside Chrome and Firefox. For users in a Mac/iOS based environment, there are now some serious advantages to using Apple’s own browser offering over the competition. Unfortunately, it appears Apple is dropping Safari for Windows – download links for the previous version have now been removed as well as any references to Windows versions on the Safari overview page. So for now, if you’re working with a Windows machine anywhere, you’re probably best sticking with Chrome.
If you’ve been using the new Safari, what do you think? Are you finding it nice and speedy? Are you loving the new features?