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Apple launches Safari 4 public beta

Safari's new Top Site feature
Safari's new Top Site feature

Apple today announced the availability of the public beta for Safari 4, the company's web browser.

In its press release, Apple is stating that the browser is "the world's fastest and most innovative web browser for Mac and Windows PCs".

To reiterate the point, Apple boasts that "Safari 4 runs JavaScript 4.2 times faster than Safari 3".

Similar to Chrome

Some of the new features look surprisingly like revised ideas that Google first debuted in Chrome, especially the Top Sites visual preview page:

- Top Sites is where you see your favourite websites at a glance. Essentially, you will be able to see visual representations of your most viewed pages.

- Cover flow is a similar idea, where you can flick through your bookmarks like you would albums in your iTunes.

- Tabs On Top means that you can have multiple pages open at one time in a single browser window.

- Full History Search allows users to browse their viewing history in Cover Flow mode.

Looks like Windows on Windows

Under the bonnet of the new web browser is Apple's Nitro Engine – the brains behind 'the world's fastest browser'.

Surprisingly, Apple has added Windows XP and Vista skins for the browser, so those who aren't that impressed with Apple's clean, efficient layout can stick to a Windows-like display.

In fact, when you load it up in Microsoft's OS, the display is defaulted to look like Windows.

Christopher Phin, Deputy Editor of MacFormat magazine is surprised that Apple has added the Windows-look option, saying: "When Safari was released on Windows, there was an outcry from Windows users, who said that the fonts looks blurry and soft.

"That a company would react to public opinion and implement a change is not news, but that the company here is Apple is significant.

"Apple is famous for giving people what they need rather than what they want, and for it to have altered its stance here is fascinating."

Apple believes that its new browser makes "browsing made beautiful. And smart." See for yourself, as it is available to download for Mac and PC from Apple's website now.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.