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INTERNET GENERAL
By 26 February 2009 | Categories: internet general

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Apple released Safari 4 Beta rather abruptly on Tuesday, 24 February. There was no prior warning – it simply appeared on Apple’s website and people started spreading the word.

We downloaded it to see what the fuss was about and tested it on a PC running Windows XP. Incidentally, we had no trouble installing and running it on Vista either.

Speed

Apple are claiming that Safari 4 is now the fastest internet browser around; claiming speeds of up to 3 times faster than Firefox 3 and 30 times faster than Internet Explorer 7. We don’t know how accurate those figures are, but we did find the browser very speedy indeed. On most of the websites we tested images and text loaded exceptionally quickly, and there were very few errors.

Top sites

The Top Sites feature is the first thing you see upon installing the browser and is a top-notch feature in our books. Top Sites displays thumbnails of your most frequently visited sites similar to Opera’s Speed Dial and the Most Recent screen on Google Chrome.

What sets the Top Sites feature apart, however, is the design. By default there are 12 sites displayed; make the thumbnails smaller and you can have as many as 24 sites or larger to display only six sites. The Top Sites page has a 3D effect and reflects the images of the bottom sites -a tad pointless, but visually appealing nonetheless. As you browse the web, Top Sites adds new sites that you frequent and these are reflected by a star in the right hand corner. You can also change the order the sites appear in or remove them from the list completely.

Toolbar

You can customise your toolbar to your liking by simply clicking on the “Customize Toolbar” option and dragging the desired icons to the spot you want them on the tool bar. Conversely drag the icons off the toolbar to remove them and watch them literally disappear in a puff of smoke. We thought that this was a fantastic option as you can arrange your toolbar exactly how you like it, making it more functional.

Cover Flow

Cover Flow is an animated three dimensional graphical user interface which allows you to flip through websites in your history folder or bookmark bar fast and easily. It displays your bookmarks and history as large graphical previews, so you can pick out a website instantly. It will save you tons of time going through your history log trying to remember which site it was that you read that interesting article on, saw that picture on etc.

Tabs

The tabs are positioned right at the top of the window which might take some getting used too. To open a new tab you have to click directly on the + icon – clicking the area around it won’t achieve anything. They even look nicer than the tabs in Firefox and IE, but then again functionality is the overriding factor.

Acid3 test

Safari 4 is the only browser so far to pass the Acid3 test. Acid3 is a test page from the Web Standards Project that checks how well a web browser follows certain web standards, especially relating to the Document Object Model and JavaScript. To test your browser you simply have to go to www.acid3.acidtests.org and the test starts itself. Safari scored an impressive 100/100. We put Firefox and IE 7 to the test with surprising results. Firefox scored 70/100 and Chrome scored 78/100 while IE 7 was incapable of even loading the page.

Overall we were really impressed with Safari 4 Beta. It looks great, works great and Apple has really made a stellar effort to make it not only user friendly but also Windows Friendly. You can download it and check it out yourself from www.apple.com/safari/download.

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