Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Apple releases Safari 4 beta, promising faster speed

Apple on Tuesday released the latest beta version of its Safari browser, promising a much faster browser with improved navigation and searching.

The company said Safari 4 for both Mac OS X and Windows commands 4.2 times faster than Safari 3, thanks, in part, to the new Nitro engine, which runs JavaScript 4.2 times faster than its predecessor.

According to the company, Safari 4 loads JavaScript "up to 30 times faster than IE7 and more than three times faster than Firefox 3." As for HTML pages, Safari, "loads [them] three times faster than IE 7 and almost three times faster than Firefox 3." Safari 4 is also the first browser to pass Web Standards Project's Acid3 test.

Other new features in Safari 4 include Top Sites, giving users a visual preview of frequently visited pages; Full History Search, to search through titles, web addresses and the complete text of recently viewed pages; Cover Flow, to easily flip through web history or bookmarks; and Tabs on Top, to make tabbed browsing easier.

The new version of Safari also includes a Smart Address field and Smart Search. Smart Address will automatically show a drop down menu when a user begin typing a URL into the address field. It shows the top hit, suggestions from the user's Bookmarks and suggestions from his history. Smart search gives the user suggestions from Google and previous searches that he has made using Safari.

The new beta version is available for download at Apple's Safari Web page with both Windows and Mac OS versions ready for testing.

Safari is used by about 8 percent of Internet surfers, according to Net Applications, trailing Internet Explorer and FireFox.