Apple Announces Public Beta of Safari 4

The newest version of the Safari Web browser for Mac and Microsoft Windows PC is here as a beta, Apple says. Apple claims that the Nitro engine in Safari 4 will run JavaScript over four times faster than the previous version of Safari. The new version of Apple's Web browser also includes a number of just-added features such as Cover Flow.

Apple has announced the public beta of Safari 4, saying the latest version of its Web browser includes new features and can run JavaScript faster than Safari 3.

Apple Safari 4, officially released Feb. 24, leaps into pitched battle against Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera Software's Opera browser and Mozilla Firefox, with the quest for browser dominance extending past desktops and laptops into the realm of mobile devices.
"As they move into iPhone and iPod Touch, [the browser] is going to become a much more strategic product," Steve Baker, an analyst with NPD Group, said in an interview. "If you don't swim forward, you'll die in that market."

A December 2008 test by IT consulting company Chapin Information Services found that Safari 3.2 was one of the weakest browsers when it came to password management, an aspect of browser security. The other browsers tested were Chrome, IE, Safari, Opera and Firefox.

A news release issued for Safari 4 made no mention of any security upgrades. Apple claimed the "Nitro engine in Safari 4 runs JavaScript 4.2 times faster than Safari 3," and "loads HTML [Web] pages three times faster than IE 7 and almost three times faster than Firefox 3."

Other features include Cover Flow, which borrows its design from Apple iTunes' album art display option, letting you see whole Web pages in miniature as you flip through them, and Smart Search Field, in which users can use a list of recent searches of Google Suggest to pare down their searches.

There are built-in Web development tools for tinkering, and a "new Windows-native look in Safari for Windows" that utilizes Windows standard font rendering, native title bar, borders and tool bars-supposedly so "Safari fits the look and feel of other Windows XP and Windows Vista applications."

Also included in the new Safari is HTML 5 support for offline technologies, allowing Web-based applications to store information on the local drive even when the computer is not online.

A download of the Safari browser is free on the Apple Web site.