Ladies and gentlemen I have a new favorite browser, and it's lightening fast. I downloaded Apple's Safari 3 Public BETA a week or so ago to troubleshoot a log-in issue one of our members was having, and next thing you know I've installed it on all of my PCs at home and the office. Safari 3 provides tabbed browsing similar to IE7 and Firefox 2, which is nice for those of us that have multiple pages/sites open simultaneously constantly. The first thing that impressed me was it's look and layout, but I quickly realized that it's primary advantage was its performance.
Apple is quick to point out on the homepage for Safari its performance advantages. They claim Safari can load pages up to 3 times faster than Opera, 2 times faster than IE7, and 1.7 times faster than Firefox. Pretty impressive numbers, but what browser doesn't claim to be the fastest? As you can imagine, some of Media-Geek.com's member services are bandwidth intensive, and others require multiple scripts to be loaded by your browser. I did a few rudimentary tests accessing various features of Media-Geek.com using Safari, IE7, and Firefox and was simply amazed at the difference in load times.
If you're a long-time Windows and IE user with little exposure to Apple interfaces, Safari's look may at first overload your senses; it's a clean, sleek look that screams "I was not made by Microsoft!" If you're a Windows user familiar with Apple interfaces like iTunes you'll find a lot of similarity, especially with features like Safari Bookmarks. Bookmark folders are easily accessible right from the toolbar, and can be easily managed much like your music in iTunes. Safari imports your favorites from the other browsers you've been using when you install it, and you can also go back later to update the your imports.
Much like the other browsers Safari provides a search field in the main toolbar for quick access to popular search engines, such as Google or Yahoo (IE7, of course, uses Google or Live Search). Apple also provided what they refer to as "Inline Find", which allows you to search a page for a particular keyword in order to easily locate content. My first though was, "So what? I use Ctrl+F in every browser." Turns out this feature is actually pretty helpful though, as it highlights all occurances on the page and allows you to navigate through them much easier than you can in IE7 or Firefox.
Now here's a new one that I immediately thought was pretty cool, it's a feature called "SnapBack". Basically, it's an icon in your address bar that allows you to jump back to your search results or the main page of a site you've been browsing with one click. Let's say you do a search, visit one of the results and end up buried 5 or six levels deep in that Website. No need to use the back button umpteen times or access your browsing history to go back to your results, simply click the SnapBack icon. Sweet!
While Safari 3 is still a BETA version and I have come accross a few minor scripting or cache related issues, the advantages so far have far outweighed the disadvantages, and it's quickly become my favorite Web browser.