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.

And the new tab position saves a little screen real estate, replacing the horizontal bar at the top of the application window, which is useful for anyone running Safari on a small-display netbook or notebook.

Users who don't like the new tab bar can switch back -- John Gruber tells how at the blog Daring Fireball, adding, "I'm willing to give the new-style tabs at least a week -- don't be a chicken and switch back already."

When you start Safari 4, or open a new tab, you get a view of the dozen pages you visit most frequently.
(click for image gallery)

The other big change is the Top Sites window. Again, this change proved unpopular with some early adopters; Ars Technica, for example, calls it "frivolous and unnecessary."

Firefox users who have downloaded the Speed Dial extension will find Top Sites familiar.

I like Top Sites a lot. Safari 4 displays page snapshots on a curving, three-dimensional black wall floating in space. You can click on each image and the page it represents move to the front and fills up your browser in a nifty, 3D animated effect.

You can edit the Top Sites view by clicking the edit button at the bottom left, adding pages manually, blocking some pages from appearing in Top Sites at all, and pinning particular pages so they always appear in the same place.

You can search your browser history from Top Sites by clicking a text window on the bottom right. That brings up the history, with an image of each page showing in Cover Flow, same as you get in iTunes, the iPod software, and in the Leopard Finder. The history searches all the text on all the pages you've visited.

Cover Flow is also implemented in the bookmarks manager, so you can flip through images of all your bookmarks, or any folder.

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