Apple (s aapl) has released a beta of the next version of Safari, and it is blazing fast. Safari 4 installs quickly and requires a restart, after which it’s ready for action. I should warn you that installing Safari 4 will replace your standard Safari, so be aware. Safari 4 is a beta so you may not want to lose your “safe” version. I haven’t encountered any issues with Safari 4 but then I’ve only been using it for about half an hour. I am using the Mac version, but there is a beta for Windows available, too.
The first impression of Safari 4 is the speed. This is easily the fastest web browser I have used on any platform. Apple claims it is 3X faster than Firefox 3, and it certainly feels that way to me. Opening pages is just darn quick, and having multiple tabs open doesn’t seem to slow it down.
Opening multiple tabs is something you’ll want to do, given Safari 4’s new “Top Sites” page, which is essentially an attractive display of your most visited web sites. This is similar to the thumbnail previews of other browsers, but with the typical Apple flair. Here are my top sites:
The new tab bar in the top window bar is a great touch, as it means Safari now wastes little screen real estate, something that some will find very useful. If you look at the screen capture above very carefully you’ll see the tabs open next to the windows close button. Very nice touch.
You can also now browse your history with coverflow, which makes it easy to spin left and right through your browsing history. It may seem to be just eye candy but it’s darn fast so it’s actually useful.
I’m going to continue to play with Safari 4 to see how it works for me. It will have a tough time replacing my beloved Firefox, but I’ll see how it stacks up.
You can find Safari 4 here on the Apple web site.