Safari Elsewhere

11 June 2007

This time round, thanks to @media, I didn’t quite have time for my normal post with pre-WWDC predictions.

Probably a good thing, it turns out, as I would have been mostly wrong.

The biggest surprise is that – for me at least – 10.5 isn’t the most exiting news coming out of WWDC; that accolade has to be reserved for Safari on Windows, which came pretty far out of left field.

From the host of “I’ve just installed it now” reports I’ve read, it seems to offer practically pixel perfect rendering across the Mac and the Windows versions, which is a first – even Firefox, which uses the same rendering engine across the different platforms, shows significant differences over the platform divide. This has been achieved by bypassing Window’s (fairly rubbish, if you ask me) built in font rendering – which is where Firefox falls down – and using the same font rendering that Mac OS X uses.

Also new is speed – Safari 3 on the Mac is significantly quicker then every browser I’ve tried, and Apple claims the same on Windows. It also has much improved Javascript support, and the most advanced CSS renderer around (supporting things like text shadows, multiple background images and more). It all adds up to now being the best and most consistent environment to develop web apps for, although it’ll be interesting to see how it compares to Opera – which frequently gets ignored, although the awful Mac version doesn’t help matters – which is also famed for its speed.

Also interesting was the announcement that Apple’s solution for 3rd party apps on the iPhone are web apps (they even say Web 2.0!), much to the disappointment of traditional developers. Personally, I was already thinking that this was the solution people were talking about needing – everything I can think of wanting to do on an iPhone in addition to the built in apps you can do with web apps, especially if it has Flash installed.

The only negative point is that obviously if you don’t have WiFi signal – which in the UK is pretty hard to come by in un-passworded form – you don’t have access to your apps; I still think that the iPhone will be 3G when it comes out here, though, so I’m not too worried.

Changing tacks quickly, I’m very, very impressed with how 10.5 is shaping up; it’s certainly going to be the biggest and best OS release Apple has put out since 10.0. I really like the look of the new UI – clean, professional, usable; everything that Vista isn’t.

I love that they’ve added some eye candy to the Dock in the form of reflections: doesn’t do anyone any harm, and just looks great. I’m not massively impressed with stacks – they seem to simply be a fancier UI on dock folders. I’ve got similar feelings on the new transparent menu bar – obviously they needed to change it to fit the new look, but I’m not sure if it looks that usable. Its simplicity is lovely, though.

The Finder looks like a huge step forwards in my eyes, not so much for coverflow – which does look cool, but I don’t see using much – but for the new functionality with servers, and things like large document previews. Also, from reading deep into Apple’s site it sounds very much like they’ve rewritten all the file server code so hopefully we won’t see so many spinning cursors…

There’s so many features in 10.5 it’s pointless going through them all; needless to say Time Machine, Spaces, new Mail.app, iChat all look either interesting or down right vital.

It’s going to be a long wait till October…

Oh, one last thing – thank god they’ve finally redesigned Apple.com – much nicer now! I particularly like the find as you type search box, the scroll bar on the mac page and the black/white split on the Leopard page.

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