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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.