Apple has just released today the first beta version of their forthcoming Safari 4.0 browser.
Safari 4.0 is completely re-designed, and therefore quite different from previous 3.x versions.
Here is a mini-review of the top new features with screenshots (taken on a Windows XP machine).
You can download Safari 4.0 beta here. The size of the Windows setup file is approximately 25 MBs.
Upon the first launch of Safari 4.0 beta it didn’t take much time to realize that Safari 4.0 was heavily inspired by the Google Chrome design. Well, we now have the Tabs located on top, UI icons reminding of Google Chrome, as well as the Top Sites page / feature.
Top Sites is showing your favorite sites in a thumbnail grid, which is pretty eye-catching. You can customize it easily, add / remove sites, or pin / lock them in a certain position.
Apple’s favorite navigation UI, Cover Flow, has made its appearance in Safari 4.0. You can now view your History and Bookmark sites in Cover Flow mode.
Native Look and Feel on Windows
Safari 4.0 is using the Windows fonts to render the web pages, as well as the Windows native UI controls (buttons, scrollbars etc). Windows users who enjoyed the Mac OS style controls on previous Safari versions might be disappointed.
The “x” button, which is closing each tab, is placed on the left-hand side of the tab. That’s a bit awkward for Web browsers, as in Firefox, Google Chrome, IE, Opera the tab closing button is always on the right-hand side!
Moreover to re-arrange the position of a tab, you need to click on the according right-hand side icon of each tab and drag. Again re-arranging tabs is far more easier on the other browsers, even on IE7, and especially pretty cool / natural on Chrome.
You can also see the Downloads window on the above screenshot. It reminds of Firefox Downloads window, however without the search option.
The “Preferences” window has not changed much since the last Safari version, here is a screenshot featuring the Windows native UI controls. Enjoy the absence of the numerous OK / Apply / Cancel etc annoying buttons, which are found on other Windows applications.
The search dialog is located on the left-hand side of the address bar, and upon typing something, the suggestions are coming up pretty fast!
As expected, Safari 4.0 beta scores 100/100 on the Acid3 test.
However the performance in terms of consumed RAM was terrible.
10 opened tabs -> 240 MB of RAM!
Safari 4.0 is definitely better than previous Safari versions, however the UI has yet to be perfected. The new options are well designed, and supplement the overall browsing experience.
The so-called “browser wars” are still going strong. We are waiting for the Google Chrome Mac version, Firefox 3.1, IE8, Opera 10, and the final Safari 4.0 version.