Safari: Work in Progress

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Date: Sunday, January 12th, 2003, 21:19
Category: Archive

There’s no question: Apple has put out a brilliant first effort in web browsers with Safari. The interface design is perhaps the most elegant ever in a browser, Apple has breathed new life into KHTML’s Linux roots, the bookmark interface may finally help break bad bookmark habits, FlashBack is a godsend, and the browser beats everything else on PC and Mac for speed (except maybe text-based Lynx!). And all this in a beta release. Apple’s new browser isn’t a Cyberdog: it’s a new gorilla. (Okay, sorry, couldn’t resist the metaphor. Blame the reality distortion field.)

Safari’s not perfect yet. Aside from the oft-mentioned lack of tabbed browsing — let’s hope Apple isn’t turning up their noses at that idea — the major problem remains page compatibility. Despite Jobs’ impressive “standards” chart from the keynote, anecdotally KHTML still has some page rendering problems on some sites. (Even with Mozilla and Netscape I have to admit I had to keep MSIE around as a backup for some problem sites.) This could be the fault of designers deviating from standards as much as KHTML’s, but we’re browsing in the real world, not on a standards list. Some basic cookie and security features remain unimplemented, possibly because this is a beta. Safari also misses the Auto-Fill capabilities of Internet Explorer and the password recall feature of Netscape, Mozilla, and Chimera. Users seem to be split about whether they find Safari’s slickness irresistible or they’ll stick to stability in MSIE or a fast-maturing Chimera. It’s great to have a choice, though, isn’t it? Let’s hope Apple’s development team keeps checking out the competition: since this is only Safari’s first beta, you can bet there’s a great road ahead.

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