Posted in: Desktop software

Apple announce Safari 5, add extensions, reader, 30% faster JavaScript

I know the excitement of the new iPhone 4 hasn’t passed yet, but Apple did announce other things yesterday. Safari 5 for Mac and PC was also announced, putting faster page loading and better JavaScript performance on the table along with some new features like better URL suggestion, the interesting Reader function and *gasp* extensions…

The Reader function is probably the most innovative feature in Safari 5. What it does is, detect articles on the page and strip away all the unnecessary stuff – ads and all. It will even combine the pages of a multi-page article. I cannot think of another browser that comes with such functionality by default.

This cleaned-up view can be printed or emailed too. While Safari 5 Reader won’t show ads, it will still request them from the server. I’m not sure advertisers will be too happy with such phantom ad views, but still.


The Reader feature in Safari 5

Somewhat unexpectedly, Apple has added extension support to Safari 5. The extensions will be written in HTML and JavaScript – like the JetPack extensions for Firefox and the Chrome extensions. Extensions can be verified by Apple but apparently, you can just download it from the developer’s site – so, no App Store-like restrictions.

The URL suggestion in the address bar was improved – it now looks for matches in the whole address, not just the beginning like Safari 4 (e.g. Safari 5 will match ‘arena’ and ‘gsmarena’, but Safari 4 won’t). Also, instead of just looking through the URL, page titles will be considered as well – which makes the URL suggestion a lot like the one on Firefox.


Safari 5 is faster than all other browsers in the SunSpider test (tested on a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo Mac)

The JavaScript engine on Safari 5 was updated from the SquirelFish Extreme to the less-odd sounding Nitro engine. Apple claims a 30% speed up over Safari 4. Apple, Google and Opera are developing three separate JavaScript engines, which seem to overtake one another on a daily basis.

They also added DNS lookup, a feature that Chrome recently got. This helps reduce the time it takes to open a page from the moment you click on a link.

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