Apple’s new Safari 5 comes loaded with fresh features

Mac lovers and Apple fanatics rejoice. Safari 5 has arrived and it’s truly better than ever.

Rather uncharacteristically of Apple, Safari 5 was released without warning or rumour. Typically with any major Apple update, rumour mills are abuzz and the cats out of the bag well before Apple finally gets around to the official release – which, at any rate, is usually announced in advance.

It would make sense if the update was minor, but it isn’t – not at all. Safari 5 is a major upgrade. As a part-time, but long-time, Mac user, I was getting a little worried that Safari would go the way Iinternet Explorer had a few years ago, and become antiquated. I still used it on my Mac primarily, but started to seriously consider Chrome and Firefox as my default browser. With all the new features that come packed in Safari 5, though, I’m sticking with it.

New features of Safari 5

First, it now allows extensions. This was essential in order to keep up with extension-king Firefox. Third party developers can now create innovative extensions for Safari and pull it back up to par with more open-standard competitors.

Some cool extensions include GReader, a Google Reader supplement; GoMBoX, a Google image search supplement; View Style Sheets, which enables you to, well, view style sheets; and Beautifier, which smooths out texts on-screen; AdBlock, an ad blocking service; YouTubeDownloader, which lets you download YouTube videos to your computer in one click; and Netflix Queue Sorter, which transforms your Netflix browsing experience. And, perhaps my favourite of all, SaveTabs Safari extension, which mirrors Firefox’s tab restoration feature, allowing you to reopen Safari (even after your computer was shut down) with all of your prior tabs open and raring to go!

Moving past extensions, there are still several great Apple-generated improvements. JavaScript processes faster than ever, and faster than all its competitors, although you’ll only really notice on heavily java-laden websites. Safari also now features tabbed browsing, meaning new windows can all open in a tab by default, though I never thought the 1-button key command was that inconvenient. Apple’s new Safari 5 also has enriched compatibility with the increasingly popular HTML 5, improved caching, and simplified “Private browsing” – web browsing that does not log a history, cache, or cookies.

There are also smaller, less impressive updates (but still welcomed), such as Safari now allowing use of the Bing search engine, in addition to Yahoo and the default Google, and the new Safari Reader, Apples in-browser reading enhancer.

Which web browser do you use, and why?