Review: Safari 4 Beta Takes Page From Google Playbook - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
01:59 PM

Review: Safari 4 Beta Takes Page From Google Playbook

The latest version of Apple's Web browser, now in beta, copies features already available on Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera -- and looks great doing it.

Let's hear it for ripoff artists.

Whenever Microsoft integrates features from Mac OS into Windows, the Apple fans cry foul. "It's a ripoff!" they say. "Apple did it first!"

Likewise, fans of the Opera browser are perpetually claiming Firefox ripped them off.

Safari 4, now available in its first public beta, boasts a cleaner user interface, and tabs above the address bar, like Google Chrome.
(click for image gallery)

Nobody but historians and fans care who did it first; users just want to know who does it best. And copying the other guy isn't cheating. This isn't high school. Copying the competition is how the free market works. Companies improve their products by stealing ideas from the competition and improving them a little bit. When we see companies doing that, we shouldn't cry foul -- we should pat them on the back and say, "Well done!"

Now, Apple isn't having its pockets picked -- they're doing the stealing. And they're slick about it too. The new version of Safari, Version 4, which just shipped beta 1, copies features from Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. And Apple does a fine job of it. Well done, Apple!

Taking Safari 4 Beta 1 For A Spin

When you start Safari 4, you'll notice a couple of big changes right away over the previous version.

Apple moved the tabs. They're now above the address bar, like on Chrome. Also, the opening screen (as with Google Chrome and Opera) shows a grid of images of your most frequently visited Web pages, which Safari gathers by keeping track of where you've surfed to.

The new tab position has a few early adopters ticked off, saying the layout makes it too easy to accidently close a tab by clicking in the wrong place. I didn't have a problem with it -- but I didn't much see the point, either. I find the change harmless, and easy to get used to.

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