Apple Releases Safari 4

Apple releases Safari 4, the latest version of its Web browser, with a number of new features and development tools designed to help the company seize more market share from Microsoft, Google and others. Apple released Safari 4 during its WWDC conference, which thus far has also seen the rollout of Snow Leopard, the newest update of the Mac operating system.

Apple released Safari 4, the latest update to its Web browser, on June 8. Available for both Macs and PCs, Safari 4 originally made its debut as a beta in February, and includes several new features designed to help it better compete against Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and other high-profile browsers.

Apple announced the release in conjunction with its annual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in San Francisco, along with the rollout of Snow Leopard, the newest update of the Mac operating system.

New features in Safari 4 include Cover Flow, which allows users to flip through "previews" of Websites in a mode similar to spinning through album covers in iTunes, and Full History Search, in which the user can search through the content of Websites in his or her stored history using a History Search bar.

Apple is also packaging tools with Safari that will let developers "examine the structure of a page, debug JavaScript, optimize performance and compatibility, inspect offline databases, or test experimental pieces of code on the fly," according to the company.

In what could be seen as a bid to pull market share away from Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Safari 4 includes a "native look in Safari for Windows" that includes Windows standard font rendering, native title bar, borders and tool bars.

For the beta release in February, Apple said the Nitro engine in Safari 4 can run JavaScript about four times faster than the previous version of Safari.

The browser wars are heating up, both for the general public and the enterprise. In an April report by the research company Forrester, based on a survey of 51,913 enterprise-client users, Internet Explorer usage in the enterprise stood at 78.8 percent of the market in December 2008, while Mozilla Firefox had 18.2 percent and Google Chrome 2.0 percent for the same period. Apple Safari held 1.4 percent of that particular market, followed by Opera Software's Opera with 0.2 percent.

Other Web browsers have rolled out new editions recently, including Opera Software, which on June 8 released the Opera Mobile 9.7 beta for Windows Mobile-equipped smartphones. Although it lags behind Safari and others in the general browser market, Opera's mobile browser is ranked first in usage.