Safari 6 a slight but sleek upgrade for Apple’s browser

By Nathan Alderman, Macworld |  Networking, Safari 6

Safari 5.1 didnt age gracefully on my older hardware. While Apples Web browser still posted fast benchmarks, it grew teeth-grindingly sluggish when loading or navigating multiple tabs. Under Lion, Safari 6 similarly left me more aggravated than appreciative.

But under Mountain Lion, the new Safari became a whole different animal.

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The king is dead

Safari 6 packs relatively few new features for a major browser update, and most of its shiny new bells and whistles need Mountain Lion to run properly.

But even under Lion, youll see one of Safari 6s biggest changes immediately. Like Firefox ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ), Safari has consolidated URLs and searches in a single bar at the top of the screen. You search with Google by default, but can specify Yahoo! or Bing in preferences. Unlike Firefox, Safari doesnt keep a vestigial search box hanging out next to its all-in-one window for no apparent reason. I liked Safaris useful, unobtrusive implementation of this idea.

Safari 6 also treats tabs differently. They now expand to take up equal portions of the browser windows full span. With only two open, tabs look almost comically broad, but still work as well as ever. The rest of the browser seemed to wheeze under Lion. It would occasionally take ages to load a page. If I tried to switch to another tab during that tedious wait, Id see a blank white screen, even if the other page had previously loaded. Even more surprisingly, benchmark tests showed that Safari 6 posted 17 percent slower JavaScript performance under Lion than Safari 5.1.7. (Scores in other tests stayed constant or grew slightly; see below.) Then I installed Mountain Lionand Safari 6 became a much better browser.

Hail to the king

Under Mountain Lion, Safari 6 attains striking poise. The blue progress bar once stuttered across the URL bar; now it glides. Pages slide even more smoothly as you swipe (on a trackpad) to navigate. And the contents of a page seem to pour into place as it loads.

Aside from an odd habit of a split-second fade-out and fade-in while the browser reloads a page youve just moved forward or back to, everything feels fast and fluid, even on a 2008 laptop. Apple has made Safari 6 on Mountain Lion the Macs most visually polished browser.

Originally published on Macworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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