Blog Post

iOS 5: Mobile Safari

With each major iOS (s aapl) update, one of the stock apps that keeps getting better is Apple’s Safari Mobile web browser. More features and faster browsing are regular and welcome additions. With iOS 5, the latest improvements to mobile Safari are well worth mentioning.

Better performance

Both major and minor iOS updates have steadily improved upon the performance of the mobile Safari browser, and iOS 5 is no exception. Here are the benchmarks below, where you can see iOS 5 has the clear advantage on every device.

Background links

Safari Background Links

This has to be the one feature of mobile Safari I’ve wanted the most, and for the longest time: the ability to browse more than one link at a time.  To set this up, you will need to set the Safari preference to open links in background on the iPhone, or to open new tabs in background on the iPad.  Once that is set, you basically tap and hold on a URL and direct it to open in the background, so as not to interrupt your reading.

Tab bar on iPad

iPad Tabbed Browsing

While not having a tab bar on the iPhone and iPod touch versions of mobile Safari may make sense due to space constraints, there’s certainly enough space on the iPad for a tab bar. With iOS 5, you now have that tab bar in Safari on the iPad.  This makes background links that much more powerful.

Safari Reader

Safari Reader

One of the coolest features of Safari on the Mac is being able to remove all the ads and formatting on a given page to streamline content.  This feature has now been added to mobile Safari on both the iPhone and the iPad.  You’ll now notice that iconic “Reader” button next to the URL on the toolbar. Tapping it takes you to a stripped down version of the page you’re viewing.

Reading List

Safari Reading List

Saving an article to read more closely at a later time is always a good thing to do. Other options exist, but sometimes all you really need is just a way to create a quick temporary bookmark. Safari’s reading list is just that, a way to create temporary bookmarks that sync across all of your iOS and Mac devices. Ideal for saving a long article on your iPhone for later reading on your iPad.

Private browsing

Private Browsing

This could certainly come in handy when connecting to a Wi-Fi access point you aren’t familiar with. It can be configured in the Safari preferences. Having to go through preferences is a little awkward, and the first time you set it up, you’ll be prompted to close any open tabs or pages. Still, could be useful depending on your needs.

Quick access to back history

Back History

This one is an iPad-only feature as well.  Simply tap and hold either the back or the forward button on the browser toolbar to eatable the history list of each associated direction.

Tweet a link

Tweet Link

With Apple integrating Twitter into iOS directly, you can now tweet from places you could only dream of tweeting before.  Once such place is in mobile Safari.  You can now tweet the link of the page you are currently viewing.

Streaming video

Safari AirPlay Videos

Prior to iOS 5, you could only stream video directly from YouTube(s aapl) or the iPod app directly. If you happened to be viewing a video embedded on a web page, even if that video was a YouTube video, you couldn’t stream it to an Apple TV. Now you can.

That’s a list of what Apple added to a single app. This really is one of the most ambitious software updates it’s ever introduced. Stay tuned for more coverage.

8 Responses to “iOS 5: Mobile Safari”

  1. Yeah, I’m really not a fan of the tabs on my iPad browser, it looks so cluttered at the top, and it takes away a good .8 cm of browsing area. I hope to God that they add an option to go back to the “windows button” option.

    • I thoroughly hate the tabs. Before the latest “upgrade” I was able to keep pages I liked forever in the background without cluttering my visual space. That was one of the best things on iPad!!!! Damn it. Now I’m wasting time trying to go back to something I already had nicely set up.

      • I too hate the tabs, and would go back to the old iOS if I could, just to get the old Safari back. It bugs me when Apple makes changes like this and doesn’t give you the choice. my iPad experience is being severely negatively impacted right now… I really liked the old thumbnail previews.

    • Chris Widenhouse

      Not a fan of tabs, but beyond that, previously to return to the top of a page you could tap in the menu bar, I keep closing tabs now instead of going to the top.

  2. Some of these feature improvements are great, but I’m not a fan of tabs. I can’t find a way to disable them and it just chews up screen real estate. Any help on disabling them?