Test Center: Safari 4 preview
Apple's new beta of Safari for Mac OS X and Windows is fast, beautiful, tuned to the latest Web standards, and finally even with the remarkable WebKit projectFollow @infoworld
Other features make Safari 4 flat irresistible. It's the first desktop release to support the local database features of HTML 5. The information and Web apps traditionally only available when you're linked to the network can be accessed locally. WebKit, nee Safari 4 beta, has a facility for examining and structuring tables and fields.
Field fill-in for URLs and keyword searches are attempted with each keystroke, for both the URL and search fields. The most likely matches show in a drop-down list populated by Google. URL matches are taken from Safari's history. The sites you visit most often can be displayed as a matrix of thumbnails when Safari 4 launches, and pages in your history can be leafed through in Cover Flow. When the RSS for a page is updated, an indicator lights up for that thumbnail.
I wish that these features were available to scan bookmarks as well. That's a facility that needs work overall.
The acid test
A fast and pretty browser won't cut it for me. A browser -- and, indeed, any application that incorporates the linkable framework of that browser -- must place an equal emphasis on standards promotion and adoption, as well as accessibility. OS X's integrated Voice Assist and Universal Access preferences stand apart as mechanisms for inclusion for the visual and motor impaired. New to Safari 4 is support for ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications), which takes screen reading and modalities for atypical navigation to the next level, to Web 2.0/AJAX Web apps and sites.
I'm relieved to see full-page zoom, a sort of experimental WebKit feature, included in Safari 4 beta. The typical text-only zoom command persists, but is augmented by a zoom that enlarges (or shrinks) the entire page, as a mobile browser would. Safari users can also create a non-defeatable style sheet and set a minimum font size. That anyone should be denied access to the Internet because of disabilities makes me see red. That the disabled can be held up for usurious sums for specialized devices that are no more capable than a MacBook is a message I struggle to get out. Apple leads in accessibility as a standard feature.
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