Safari 5 is out in the wild

Ronny Kerr · June 11, 2010 · Short URL:

Updated Apple browser isn't as fast as it thinks, adds Bing option and clutter-clearing Reader

Though Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) concludes today in San Francisco, most of us can't go home with an iPhone 4 or even iOS 4 to play around with. On the other hand, Safari 5, the latest update to Apple's desktop browser, has been released into the wild and is all ours to take for a test drive.

Hands down the niftiest addition to the new browser is Safari Reader, a feature that removes ads and other visual distractions from online articles. Once the user clicks the Reader icon (and if all goes well), the browser automatically darkens out any extraneous content on the page, leaving only the desired article to be read.

Safari Reader

For those who've made the jump from Google or Yahoo, Apple has also added the option to search Bing from Safari's search field. This new feature parallels an update coming in iOS 4 that lets iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch users make Bing their default search engine on the mobile Safari browser.

Speed is also a big selling point of Safari 5, as far as Apple is concerned. Supposedly the updated browser executes JavaScript up to 25% faster than Safari 4, handles page caching better, and uses DNS prefetching to speed up browsing.

"Safari continues to lead the pack in performance," said Phil Schiller, Apple SVP of worldwide marketing.

Unfortunately, that doesn't really seem to be the case. Chrome and Opera continue to tear most other browsers to pieces, including Safari and Firefox, when it comes to speed, according to a series of test runs by ars technica. Still, the conclusion of the tests ultimately confirms that Safari 5 has definitely bested Safari 4. There's that, at least.

Speed's not everything, though.

Safari 5 comes packaged with a plethora of other great features, in particular improved HTML5 support, including geolocation, full screen and closed captions for HTML5 video, among other new tools for developers to toy around with.

Finally, the updated browser has a smarter address field for recalling addresses from History and Bookmarks, an easily accessible private browsing switch, and other essential browser tools.

All in all, when it comes to browsers, it's all about user preference. I may be a diehard Firefox fan, but Safari 5 looks and feels like nothing if not an elegant and powerful browser.

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