A Closer Look At Safari 4: How Does It Stack Up?

Introduction to Safari 4

In early June, Apple released what is arguably its most significant upgrade to Safari yet: Safari 4. In typical Apple fashion, the company was quick to deem it the "world's fastest and most innovative browser." Today, we're setting out to find if that bold claim is indeed true, and we'll be breaking down the features and performance profile of it--along with its fiercest competitors--on both the Mac and PC side.

Safari 4 - HotHardware homepage; Click To Enlarge

One of the nicer things about Safari 4 is that Apple has made it available for both Windows (XP and Vista) as well as its own OS X operating system. It's also built around the Nitro engine, which--according to Apple runs JavaScript up to 4.5 times faster than the prior instance of Safari, nearly 8 times faster than Internet Explorer 8 and over 4 times faster than Firefox 3. It also supports HTML 5 and advanced CSS effects, and Apple claims that it can load HTML web pages over 3 times faster than IE 8 and Firefox 3. Apple also added a number of new, unique features that help to set this browser apart from the rest: Top Sites, Full History Search and Cover Flow.

Safari 4 Google Search Box; Click To Enlarge

It's hard to knock Apple for its innovation in the browser space. After all, the world's best browsing cellphone came from the labs at Cupertino (the iPhone), and the open source WebKit engine is widely regarded as the cream of the crop. In fact, Apple trumpets the fact that Safari 4 is the first browser to ever pass the Web Standards Project’s Acid3 test, which examines how well a browser adheres to CSS, JavaScript, XML and SVG standards that are specifically designed for dynamic web applications. Safari 4 also integrates a few features found on other Apple products, namely Cover Flow--which enables users to flip through web history or bookmarks--as well as Top Sites, which acts as an Expose of sorts, but for web sites you frequently visit.

Acid 3 100% Pass on Safari 4

When OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) arrives later in 2009 (an exact release date has yet to be set), Safari will be able to run even quicker at 64-bit, and if Apple's estimations are correct, Snow Leopard will enable the performance of the Nitro JavaScript engine to increase by up to 50%. After debuting on June 8th, Apple quickly announced that over 11 million downloads had taken place in just three days, and while we're sure some of those were from automatic software updates (as opposed to individuals making the effort to get it), that's still not a number to scoff at. Join us on the next page as we break down features of Safari 4 as compared to its closest competitors.

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