Safari 4 Review - Initial Impressions of Apple Safari (Beta)

A Brief Apple Safari 4 Review
Safari 4 came out at the end of February - I finally got around to trying it out.

Usually I find myself singing the praises of Apple, defending it against all comers. This isn't because I'm a member of any Apple 'cult', but because I work with the company's machines every day, I know the software intimately, and usually there's a lot to be happy about. Just like there's a lot to be unhappy about when it comes to Microsoft... but that's another story.

I found out by accident that there was a new version of Safari. Unlike a new version of iLife, there isn't normally too much to get excited about when a new browser comes out, but I was intrigued by the new features and I wanted to give it a go.

Confident that once installed, it would probably remain in situ, I installed it this morning, and for the second time in recent memory I was disappointed by a piece of Apple software. The only other big disappointment like this that I can remember was the last version of iMovie (08), when all the useful editing features seemed to have been stripped out.

The Top Sites feature is quite nice, although it's more of an adornment, as I find it quicker to find my bookmarked sites in the old fashioned way. I have also never really found Cover Flow that useful - Adobe Bridge does the job more effectively.

The big emphasis seems to be on increased speed, but for me usability is everything. Apart from the new features mentioned above, the browser looks much the same as the old one - except... the tabs.

Safari 4 Review - Nasty Tabs
I hated the new tabbing system as soon as I tried it, and I wasted half an hour trying to find out if there was any preference to revert to the old system. There was none. It's not just the position of the tabs that I dislike, it's the fact that if you click on them, they aren't selected - they just move the window around. You have to hold the mouse button down for a second or two before the tab becomes active. The only way to get an instant result seems to be if you client on the right corner of the tab, which is fiddly and annoying. I want to be able to flick between tabs quickly - not mess around like this.

I have to confess that I didn't delve much deeper that this, because I knew if after one day I still didn't like it, I would never like it. Safari feels more like (I thought I would never say this about Apple software) more like a Microsoft application than an Apple application, and all it took was messing around with the tabs. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I think it's such a shame that this has happened, because it means I'm stuck with an old version of the software until it stops working. It was the same story with Adobe Golive v6. Luckily there was an uninstall option that downloaded at the same time as the installer, so I'm back with the old version of Safari now, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Let's hope Apple gets more (constructively critical) Safari 4 reviews like this before the Beta becomes a reality.

Nick B Davies, Tinstar Design

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