Apple Safari 5 review
While all eyes were on the iPhone 4 launch this week, Apple also snuck out the latest version of its web browser. Happily it’s not a case of burying bad news: the new Safari brings some real improvements over previous versions.
Outwardly, though, Safari 5 looks identical to the previous version, and that means a few quirks still betray its cross-platform heritage. For example, the address field and forward/back buttons retain OS X style shading and borders, subtly alienating Safari from the native Windows applications that surround it. The menu bar – a non-issue on OS X – appears only when you press Alt, and there’s no way to make it stick. And preferences dialogs lack OK buttons, which is disconcerting even if you’re familiar with the OS X standard that settings take effect as soon as you click the option.
The big new feature is dubbed Reader, a mode that automatically extracts the main text of a web page at the press of a button and presents it in a simple e-reader-like view, with adverts and other distractions faded into the background. It doesn’t work with all websites, but it’s a nice and distinctive feature, especially since it can automatically combine text from multipage articles into one long Reader document.
If we have a complaint, it’s that you have very little control over the appearance of your Reader view. The only thing you can change is the text size, while the original open-source Readability project, upon which Reader is based, let you choose between five different presentation styles and set your own margin width. Still, it’s nice to see Apple offering a thoroughly user-centric feature such as this – it’s a fillip for the consumer, for once, against the irritations of ever more intrusive advertising.
That’s all that’s really new in Safari 5, but evidently Apple feels the need to make a bigger splash, so the product web page also makes a song and dance about the fact that Microsoft’s Bing engine is now available as a new search option. Perhaps that’s interesting to students of corporate politics, but the search options ought to have been fully customisable long ago.
|Software subcategory||Web browser|
|Processor requirement||500MHz processor|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|
|Operating system Linux supported?||no|
|Operating system Mac OS X supported?||no|