I’m not a Safari switcher
So I hadn’t used safari for any significant period of time in the last year or so, but with Safari 3 all out and buzzing and Robb saying it was a better user experience I figured I’d give it another shot. DL’d the new version and ran it as my main browser (not for some dev work, though) for a couple days. The short answer is that I’m glad to be back on Firefox.
Here’s the thing, there’s a lot of nice things about Safari. The key bit I noticed was that it’s a hell of a lot snappier than Firefox. Let me be honest and say, I’m not a kind user to my browsers. At any given time I’ve got 10 or so browsers open each with a dozen or two tabs. I don’t know how it happens, it just does. Firefox, doesn’t love this – after a little while it starts slowing down… and slowing down.. creating a new tab or opening a new window starts taking time… and then getting to the point where you can type in the url bar starts taking time. With Safari that never happened. It was always snappy to do anything I wanted it to do – and I’m not talking about rendering – maybe it was faster maybe not – they all render fast enough for me. I wish FF had the quickness and footprint that Safari had.
It had a couple other niceties like the inline search feature. It really highlights the word you’re searching for, sometimes in Firefox I have to hunt around for the word it found. Maybe a couple other good touches, but I found many small things that really ruined the experience for me. I’m not even talking about developer-y things but general UI issues.
First off is the old stop/refresh button. I don’t know why they decided to make the stop button an X that looks just like the + bookmark button right next to it. Ugh, that’s annoying. I’m always hitting the wrong one. And the progress URL bar? I hate that, I tend to think it looks like it’s highlighted so I should be able to type in a new url. Nope… they just decided to overload that space with an extra indicator. (UPDATE: fortunately, I just discovered (thanks to daringfireball) that you can change this behaviour to a pie chart! Nice.)
Tabs? They are draggable which is nice, but first off they have a dark grey background with slightly darker grey writing, so it’s difficult to read the tabs. Then they don’t put favicons in the tab so it’s even more difficult to tell apart. And I so hate putting the close tab right on the tab itself (instead of a single close button all the way to the right), I’m constantly closing tabs I don’t mean too. That last one’s a personal preference since I know crazy people who prefer it this way but in FF you can choose which you want.
It also lacks Firefox’s live RSS feed which I really love. Being able to drop down a menu with all the rss headlines off the toolbar is really nice. It makes it super easy to check and see if any particular site has updated something recently. What else, oh right, you can’t increase/decrease font size with the scrollwheel.
As for browser compatibility. Most sites I’ve been to work just fine, Safari did have an issue with a few (this very blog included). The most annoying one was Yodlee since Safari wouldn’t render the page at all. But, if that were the only problem it would not be enough to prevent me from using it.
If Apple devotes a lot of engineering resources to Safari (as they most likely will) this could change quickly, but for now it is no contest. Firefox is easily the way to go for me.