New in Safari 7: Safari Power Saver, Sidebar, Top Sites, More
Of the core Apple apps that define the Mac experience, Safari is most in need of a rewrite in OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Safari 7 has the potential to be the browser we’ve always wanted — how close has Apple come to the ideal? Such considerations are, perhaps, beside the point.
• Safari Power Saver — The idea here is simple. If an animation or video isn’t visible, it won’t play. Though that’s certainly going to save power for MacBook owners, up to 35 percent, it could also be a blessing for all Mac owners — Flash animation(s), buried somewhere in the tabs, shouldn’t be able to reduce your Mac to an unusable heap of whirring fans.
According to sources, Safari 7’s Power Saver seems to tame pages with multiple animations/videos — you can leave Flash (i.e. ClickToFlash) turned on, but only the instance you’ve clicked actually plays while the others show graphics but don’t animate.
• Background Tab Optimization — This bullet point seems to draw together a number of OS X 10.9 features, including App Nap, Power Saver and Memory Compression. Apple’s attacking the “unusable heap of whirring fans” issue from multiple angles and appears to have licked this hated problem — the proof is in the pudding.
• Sidebar — This is an old idea that could be brilliant. As is, sources say, one must use the mouse/trackpad to access bookmarks, the Reading List or new Shared Links (i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn, but lacks Facebook, etc). Apple needs to make the sidebar more accessible from the keyboard using shortcuts, the Tab key and arrow keys — efficiency rocks.
On that note, Safari 7 now fluidly scrolls through articles/pages saved to Reading List, which is a very nice bit of functionality. Good enough to displace Evernote and other content managers? For power users, perhaps not.
However, Reading List is a powerful tool that unifies Mac and iThing content consumption.
• Nitro Tiered JIT and Fast Start
— The never ending struggle to deliver faster Java and keep browser memory usage under control.
• Top Sites — This feature offers better presentation and, one would hope, improved performance.
• iCloud Keychain — Not a browser feature per se, but Safari is where most of us interact with passwords the most. Making Keychain transparent, especially complex password generation, to the user is potentially brilliant.
As I said before, iCloud Keychain could easily turn out to be the best user-facing new feature in OS X 10.9.
Safari 7 So Far
Safari 7 is a big evolutionary step forward in browser development and more people are likely to make it their go to option. Power Saver, Sidebar and iCloud Keychain all have the potential to be brilliant, if not game changing features.
For what it’s worth, developers, users and journos have reported that Safari 7 is much faster than previous versions and that it’s much less likely to get bogged down during heavy (i.e. numerous tabs) browsing.
Want more? Join the conversation at the Facebook OS X 10.9 Mavericks page.
That said, as has been the case for over the decade, Mac browser choice comes down to which compromises you’re willing to live with. For example, while Firefox is a memory pig, it offers an unrivaled selection on add-ons. Further, although Chrome is generally the best performer, Google never invests enough in the Mac version to make it reliable.
Does Safari 7 have that “Goldie Locks” combination of stability, usability and functional distinctiveness to make it dominant? Again, that perhaps isn’t the point — Apple has made big strides with Safari 7, making a powerful addition to any anyone’s web toolkit…
What’s your take?