The New Safari Web Browser

Yesterday Apple Computer released a bunch of new software and hardware at the annual MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. Of these, the most interesting to me is Safari, a quite remarkably good new Web browser built specifically for Mac OS X. While its appearance is markedly better than other browsers I’ve used, and its bookmark feature is elegant, there are a few features I’m missing already, 24 hours after adopting it as my main browser…

The greatest of the missing features is unquestionably autofill, something that you wouldn’t think would be important on the Web. But I seem to go to a lot of different Web sites that require me to enter my name, address, phone, blood type, underwear color, and goodness knows what else. With Internet Explorer’s AutoFill capability, I simply clicked a button and it’d fill out as much of the form as it knew – and, no, there’s no underwear color sensor on my Mac as of yet! Safari lacks this feature, and it’s sorely missed.

Another subtle problem with the browser is that they’ve incorrectly implemented tabs on forms. In IE, a form that contains radio buttons, select menus, checkboxes, etc, has the fields selected one-by-one as you press the TAB key to navigate through the page. Safari only tabs to text fields, which is a real drag. The combination of this error and the missing autofill means that I’ve spent more time filling out form pages than I have for a long time!

A number of people on public forums (esp. MacFixIt, still mostly run by my friend Ted Landau, and MacinTouch, run by Ric Ford) have been whinging about the lack of tab support on the main browser page, but, though I say that tabbed browsing is a “way cool feature” in the upcoming Solaris for Dummies, the fact is I don’t think it’s that big a deal. Maybe if I used it for a while, I’d feel differently, but, man, I already get dizzy with the intense multitasking that I do right now!

In any case, a ready-to-go Google search box on the top toolbar makes up for a lot of this hassle, since I spend way a lot of time searching on Google. There’s also tight integration with the Mac OS X spell check subsystem, so I can click in a text input field, right-click to get the Spell menu, and step through all of my misspellings, without leaving the Web page. Very nice!

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