Safari 4 Beta Launched With Chrome Influence & Cover Flow

Claims huge performance increases.

Sometimes I feel for Safari. Much like Internet Explorer it isn’t the best browser around but unlike IE being a native app hasn’t garnered it the same undeserved mass market share. So it has had to try harder…

Today sees Apple launch the first public beta of Safari 4, described by the company as no less than “the world’s fastest and most innovative web browser for Mac and Windows PCs.”

Built on the Nitro engine, Apple boasts Safari 4 runs JavaScript 4.2x faster than Safari 3, 30x faster than IE7 and 3x faster than Firefox 3. It also claims HTML web pages load 3x faster than IE7 and “almost 3x faster than Firefox 3”.

Much of this comes from Safari 4’s new WebKit based engine – the same as that used by Google Chrome (some Chrome comparisons would’ve been interesting), Google’s Android browser, Nokia’s S60 browser and Palm’s WebOS. The move also suggests a move to Webkit for mobile Safari on the iPhone is now inevitable.

More than just increased speed, Safari 4 also represents one of the browser’s biggest makeovers with a new minimalist Chrome-esque appearance including repositioned tabs and a default homepage displaying most visited pages and a Cover Flow mode for searching through both web history and bookmarks (far more useful in the former, surely?). On top of this Safari 4 takes a leaf out of Firefox’s book with a smart URL bar linked to Google search, integrated web developer tools and a full page zoom while Windows users finally get a native appearance to better mimic the look of XP and Vista applications.

Lastly, but by no means least there is also HTML5 support for offline based web applications, compatibility with CSS Effects for sharper graphics and it joins Opera 10 beta in obtaining a 100% pass rate for the Web Standards Project’s Acid3 test.

The only surprising absence? A (s)porn(/s) incognito mode. So Apple means business this time around if not *cough* pleasure…

Firefox should be next up in the makeovers. One Webkit port please Mozilla…

Safari 4 Beta

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