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Safari 4 Beta First Impressions

After a quiet period since January’s Expo, Apple has once again ignited the web with news of a new beta release. Safari 4 for Mac and PC introduces new features including Cover Flow and a Top Sites screen and is said to be Apple’s fastest browser yet. The reason behind the improved speed is down to Safari’s Nitro Engine rendering pages faster than Firefox, IE and Chrome, according to Apple.

Top Sites
Top Sites provides a handy way to check out your favourite spots online by showing a preview of the sites you visit most often in a slick grid that changes over time. When a site in the grid is updated as star is displayed in the upper right hand corner of the screen to notify you. The Top Sites page can hold up to 24 thumbnails at a time that can be displayed small, medium or large as well dragged and dropped and locked to position. When loaded for the first time, the beta took a little while to scan and add thumbnails on an iMac G5 running Leopard, but once loaded worked beautifully.

Bookmarks and History
Searching bookmarks and your browsing history is made more attractive with the implementation of Cover Flow which, like Top Sites, takes a little while to update itself but, once it has, makes skimming across pages a pleasure and far faster through its visual cues rather than scrolling through a list of links.

Tabs have seen a shift in both performance and position, now moved to the top of the Safari window, they allow more room on the currently open page and can be dragged around as before to reposition them or create whole new windows.

Overall the beta adds some attractive new features to Safari and does appear to load pages faster than before. Searching and autocompletion also feel snappier and the new position for browser tabs will be very useful once you get used to it. Versions are available for download for Leopard and Tiger users from

Full coverage of the Safari 4 Beta will be available in issue 67 of iCreate magazine on sale April 4th at