Need to Know: Safari 4
Apple has taken Safari 4 out of beta, but what new features and improvements does it bring to the table?
At its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple released version 4 of its Safari browser. Apple has claimed that it has added 150 new features it total, but we're just going to take a look at the major ones that Apple hopes might make you want to switch from your current browser.
What is Safari?
Safari is Apple's own web browser, the equivalent to Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3, Google Chrome 2. It's pre-installed on all Macs, but it's also available for Windows.
Apple released the beta (early test version) of Safari 4 back in February and the full version is now available for Mac OS Leopard and Tiger the previous version of Mac OS X, and for Windows. It's also the browser used on the iPhone and indeed iPod touch.
Safari 4 will also now adopt the look and feel of the operating system it's installed on, so you get Aero Glass effects on Windows Vista and Windows 7.
Built for Speed
Safari support HTML 5, the latest version of the browser coding language that helps with creating browsers based apps that work when offline, and CSS 3, for the latest browser animations and effects.
Go with the flow
For end users, Apple has introduced some new features since the beta - such as a Top Sites button. This provides access to a visual preview panel of your most frequently visited sites. This shows 12 thumbnails of sites presented in a rather cool curved wall.
Also added is a search tool that let's you actually see a large image of your previously visited pages, which you can scroll through using Apple's cover flow interface, as first introducing on the iPhone and now present in Mac OS X and now Safari.
Safari even stores all the text of the pages you search, so if you can't recall the name of the site but can recall the content, you can search on a particular word.
Keep it safe
Security is addressed with anti-phishing and malware detectors built-into the browser, with alerts for suspicious pages- something that could help keep the corporate network free of troublesome nasties.
Like Google Chrome, Safari also support a Private browsing' mode, which prevents cookies from tracking any of the sites that you visit.
Other notable features are the Smart Search Field' that present a list of search suggestions as you type your search, using Google Suggest, and Smart Address Field, that helps complete your addresses as you type in the address bar.
All in all, Safari's mixture of speed and features means that it at least deserves a place at the browser table and certainly might appeal to Mac users who also use PCs.
Safari 4 is now available for downloaded from the Apple web site.
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