Safari 4 – First Take

imageJust installed both the PC and Mac version and so far I’m impressed. Forget Chrome for OS X, Safari is likely to remain the Mac user’s browser of choice. It’s hard to innovate on the browsing experience, it’s simple, familiar and works well but I like what Apple’s done here. The performance enhancements are quite real. GMail in particular is very, very fast as is Google Reader. Apple says the new Nitro JavaScript engine executes JavaScript up to 30 times faster than IE 7 and more than three times faster than Firefox 3. It certainly feels quite fast here.

Some of the other features like Cover Flow are mostly eye candy but I love the new tab interface and the full page zoom is something I’ve wanted in a browser for a long time.

Apple is pretty serious about the web and Safari takes this commitment to a new level. More importantly, Apple did it in a way that focuses on standards without proprietary extensions to deliver on that experience. As the web continues to grow in importance, the ability of a browser to work with key sites is critical and the browser that defines drives standards controls quite a lot. Imagine a browser that couldn’t support YouTube for example. By driving new enhancements for Safari as well as leveraging the Windows platform, Apple is growing the installed Safari base and at the same time making certain Mac OS as a web platform will has the latest and greatest browser support as well. No waiting for IE or Google Chrome.

Driving innovation with Safari on the desktop will also likely help the iPhone down the road as well. Safari changed the mobile web experience (on not only the iPhone but other webkit based browsers) and I expect we’ll see some of the cool new stuff here in future versions of the iPhone’s OS.

Apple’s also been able to leverage distribution for the browser through iTunes. Let’s face it, iTunes is one of the most downloaded applications. Apple has been wise to make Safari an optional part of the iTunes installation and that’s helped give adoption a boost as well.

There’s some obvious comparisons to Netscape vs. IE and the browser wars of the last century. While today’s browser battles are being played for different stakes, they are no less important. Investing in Safari is an important strategic move for Apple that will push their technology further on to the Windows platform and cement support in OS X. Expect more responses from Microsoft, Google and Mozilla. Browsing’s getting interesting all over again IMHO.

3 responses to “Safari 4 – First Take

  1. Yea you’re right, can’t get emails to open in hotmail, which could be a problem, because i can’t get my hotmail to open emails in firefox 3.1 either.

  2. The speed of the new Safari is remarkable and changes the character of the Gmail experience. It’s like the shift to Firefox 3. Faster javascript execution is important for all web applications and the competition between Apple, Google, and Mozilla is great news.

    I’m having a hard time getting used to the new tab bar, which feels very geeky and un-Applelike. I’m trying to adjust.

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