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Re-evaluating Safari 4

A few weeks ago, Matt posted about Apple's announcement of Safari 4 Beta. Now that Safari 4 has been around for a few weeks, it is time to re-evaluate it, without the glimmer that a new piece of software has. After playing around with Safari 4 for a few days, I personally noticed many of its faults quite quickly. Many others did as well, with a multitude of blog posts about Safari 4's issues popping up last week.

Bad tab implementation in Safari 4

First and foremost, Safari 4's tabs-on-top implementation is awful. Yes, it looks nice and gives even more screen real-estate to the user. However, you may remember a number of months ago when the "new" feature in all the browsers (I say "new" because Opera already had the feature long before) was the ability to reorder your tabs. It seems to make sense and to be quite intuitive: an easy way to organise your tabs as you wish. Well, Safari 4 nearly breaks this intuitive action. The tabs are actually in the title bar, so when you click on them they drag around the entire window. You must click on the little handles in order to reorder tabs and not move the window. Let's just say, it's quite confusing.

Second, Coverflow really doesn't work for browser history or for bookmarks. Matt did bring this point up, but I just want to re-emphasise that Coverflow gets annoying pretty fast. Apple are basically adding Coverflow to every new implementation of their products. I wouldn't be surprised to see the OS X login screen somehow incorporate Coverflow in order to browse through user accounts.

Third, if you read closer into Safari's marketing page, you'll see that Apple have done a little rewriting of browser history. There is a long thread on My Opera's forums (external link) pointing out many of Apple's fallacies and finding sources to back up their claims against these fallacies. I always hold that the first implementation isn't necessarily the best, but I don't support lying about who was actually first.

However, not everything is bad about Safari 4. It features a lot of great improvements to its rendering engine and it is quite speedy. As most Apple products, it has a clean and slick interface. I personally won't use Safari 4 - because I at least need mouse gestures in my browser - but I think Apple are moving forward in the right direction. I just wouldn't call it an original direction.

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