My Take on Apple’s Safari 4 Public Beta

Being the dork that I am I just had to download Apple’s Safari 4 public beta release yesterday. I’ve already got a few “good for you Apple” and a couple “why…why would you do that?” items with just one day’s worth of use but my initial reaction is “I like it!”

First off, Apple claims that Safari 4 is the fastest browser on the planet. Maybe, maybe not. To be honest, I really haven’t noticed any blazing speed. I’m not in it for the speed though. I crave stability and features that make my life easier (I remember when tabbed browsing first came out. I couldn’t imagine why any browser WOULDN’T have it. I’m curious to see what this new iteration of Safari does) while browsing the wonderous world of the interweb.

Things I dig:
Top Sites – This page is just plain awesome. Awesome. I love having a list of all of the top sites I hit (sure, I could use a the menu bar, but this gives me yet another way to access my top pages). The graphical representation is pretty darn cool too. As previous stated, I can now hit my top sites this way and perhaps keep reminder links up in the menu.

Cover Flow – What was once a nifty way of sorting through your albums in iTunes is now a great way sift through your history and bookmarks. Once again, it’s the graphical representation of the page that makes it for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bookmarked a bunch of pages on the same topic (ie, fantasy football stats) but then went through my list of bookmarks wondering “Is this the football page I’m looking for? Maybe this one? Crap…this one…” (I do have one gripe…that’ll go in the gripe section)

Developer Tools – This was a groovy feature (with some plug-ins) that I totally dug on Firefox. Being a pseudo-developer I can appreciate this feature (you’ve gotta turn it on in Safari’s Preferences) as I look at the sites I’m developing and yes…peeking at the code of other sites that I am admiring.

Things I don’t dig:
Tabs on Top – Apple touts this as a feature. I find it horrifically annoying. Let’s say I’ve got another app that I’m working in (Mail, TextEdit, etc) but have Safari open behind it. If I want to check on something in Safari I would click on the top of the browser and go to the page I intentionally left in front. Now I end up hitting a tab that I don’t want open or have to find some place on Safari’s page that does NOT have a link for fear of going to another page. Needless to say, it’s more of a hassle for me to switch back to the page I left open in Safari from another app than it was before. Maybe I’ll get used to it or find another way around this…maybe not.

Cover Flow issue I dig the way Cover Flow puts up a picture of the page in your history but um, yeah, not so much for your bookmarks. Looks as if (at least in my experience) that you’ve got to click on each bookmark to index the picture so it’ll pop up in Cover Flow next time.

Facebook issue Facebook is still agonizingly slow on Safari at times. Faster on Firefox for me. Granted it’s most definitely coding on Facebook’s site but the fact it runs faster on Firefox means it is possible to run faster on Safari. Right? Apple…it’s true, right?

Yahoo Finance issue – This has been annoying the crap out of me for a while. I track my stocks (why? to punish myself and see all that I lost? ugh) on Yahoo Finance and enjoy reading the news on various stocks. Generally I will command-click on the link to open a new tab for the article and voila, I’m good to go. Not so on Safari. It happened in 3 and it’s still happening in 4…the horrid oddity of me hitting the command key and Safari immediately sending me to the top of the page. It’s impossible for me to command-click on any tab in Yahoo…thus I gotta navigate away from Yahoo to read the story, go back, navigate away for another story, go back, lather, rinse, repeat. Bleehhhhhh…

Something I’ll probably dig:
Full History Search – I don’t feel like going through it all so I’ll just paste what Apple says about it on the Safari page. “Just type a word or phrase in the History Search field in Top Sites, and Safari quickly presents you with a list of possibilities. In fact, you can search for anything that was on a page you visited, even photo captions. To jog your memory, Safari presents the sites it finds in Cover Flow, giving you the opportunity to spot the right site on sight.” That looks pretty cool to me. Now to find some time to use it.

So those are my initial thoughts on Apple’s Safari 4 public beta for now. Even though my gripes list was longer than my kudos list, I’m most certainly giving Safari 4 a “two thumbs up” rating.

I shall continue to test and use and critique and report anything exciting, good or bad. I invite you all (it’s available for both PCs and Macs) to do the same and report back so that we can compile a list of pros and cons here for our readers and let them decide for themselves if they’d like to make the move to Safari 4 or not.