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February 26, 2009 - Dave Hecei
This week Apple has released a beta, test version, of their Internet web browser. Safari 4, according to Apple, has 150 innovative features. While Apple is allowing users to download and use Safari 4 today, please remember that this is ‘beta’ software and will have bugs and incompatibilities that make it ‘not ready for prime time’. With that said, I think Safari 4 is one of the fastest and most advanced web browsers available today, on any platform (Safari 4 is available for Mac and Windows).
Compared to the current Safari 3, the new Beta has the same look and feel, but does have quite a few changes to the user interface. After installing Safari 4, you are greeted with a welcome screen, reminiscent to the intro screen on a new install of OS X. After that you will see a 3-D grid of your top sites. This is an interesting way to view the 12 most viewed webpages, according to the Safari history file. Just click on one of these pages to go directly to that site.
Apple has found yet another use for Cover Flow, first seen in iTunes. When you view your browser’s history you will see the familiar Cover Flow viewer where you can quickly flip through thumbnails of all the web pages in your history. Along with the thumbnail picture, Safari 4 saves all the text on the page in history. Now you can view your history visually, or you can do a text search on pages you viewed days ago.
One of the main features in Safari 4 is speed. Standard html web pages load 3 times faster than Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 3. Plus, Apple is very aware that we are doing more and more work on the web. Web based applications are starting to become part of our everyday life. Apple’s own MobileMe is a good example. MobileMe allows you to synchronize all your Macs plus it gives you online access to your MobileMe E-mail, Calendar (iCal), and Address Book from any modern web browser. Safari 4 uses something called the Nitro Engine, a speed booster for Java Based online applications – like MobileMe, Google Apps, etc. Compared to Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3, Safari 4 is up to 7 times faster running Java. It’s even 2-3 times faster than Google’s Chrome browser.
Safari has plenty of new security added, better accessibility features, integrated developer tools, amazing bookmarking features, browsing and navigation tools, better RSS integration, new graphics features (including new CSS animation and effects), and the list keeps going on. Of course all this visual goodness comes at a price. For best results, you will want to have a fairly new Mac with a good video card and of course a high speed Internet connection.
You can download Safari 4 Beta for Mac or Windows for free. Macintosh Requirements: Any Mac running Security Update 2009-001 and Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.6 or Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11. Requires a Mac with an Intel processor or a Power PC G5, G4, or G3 processor and built-in FireWire, 256MB of RAM. Top Sites and Cover Flow on Mac OS X Tiger require a Quartz-Extreme compatible video card.
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