Review of Apple’s Safari 5 web browser.
Availability: For Windows and Mac OS X
Simplicity has always been a key component of Apple’s Safari browser and Safari 5 is no exception. But simplicity doesn’t have to mean a lack of functions and features and this version of Safari comes with some new features never seen before in the browser. Learn about the new Safari Reader feature.
Not much has changed from previous versions of Safari. The layout is minimalist and clean. Most of the browser frame is gray with black text and as usual customization of the browser’s look and feel is not available.
Tabbed browsing is present once again as in most web browsers and these tabs appear below the bookmarks menu and the address bar. A search box appears to the right and can be set to Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
The Cover Flow concept that was hugely popular in iTunes library management came about a few versions ago in Safari and is present here. Top visited websites and web browsing history can be viewed as if you were flipping through album covers or pages of a book. In addition you can view your recently viewed websites all on one page as if viewing movie selections in Apple TV. You can “pin” websites to this viewing page so your favorite websites are always there.
Overall the browser is basic looking with touches of visual appeal such as the Cover Flow concept and for the most part the browser does not interfere with viewing webpages, there is little to clutter up the browser.
Safari has always been known as a very quick browser. Part of this is due to the lack of add-ons for the browser. Browsers such as Firefox, while fully customizable, tend to get slowed down by a slew of add ons and programs.
Safari starts up quicker than Firefox and Internet Explorer in nearly every instance and pages load quickly. Google Chrome may be slightly faster in this area.
When you begin to type a website into the address bar, Safari shows a drop down list organized by History, Top Sites, and suggested sites so you may find the site you need before typing the whole address in. Other browsers do this but the level of organization here is nice.
Private browsing can be enabled and disabled easily. One complaint is that by default Safari doesn’t save your recent opened tabs so you’ll need to change the settings under Preferences.
Overall most websites look fine in Safari. However some web developers may not code properly for Safari so some websites may not load correctly. Also some websites with Flash based content may not display properly.
The biggest change here is the addition of a feature called “Reader.” The browser automatically detects when you are on a page with an article or large chunk of text and displays a “Reader” button in the address bar.
Clicking the button immediately brings up a long white page with just the article text on it. The web page and all links, logos, and ads become faded out in the background with the white page and text floating over the page.
This makes the text uncluttered and easy to read…as Apple puts it “it is just you and the text.” However some web developers and web writers have expressed concern as the “Reader” feature eliminates the “page impressions” concept of ad revenue and blocks out ads, links, social networking links, and images. This could have an effect on websites that heavily rely on page views and ad clicks for revenue.
Overall Safari 5 is a clean and fast web browser. It doesn’t get in the way when your surfing the internet and it rarely freezes or crashes. It easily beats Internet Explorer and may well be a faster browser option over Firefox.