Ever since Chrome first came out for the Mac, I’ve been happy using it. Throughout all these years, I haven’t even had the curiosity to play around with other browsers, as Chrome has always been simple, pretty and functional enough to keep me satisfied.
However, when Mountain Lion arrived, Safari became a much more integrated part of the OS, with more integrated gestures, iCloud syncing, and the new sharing options. I finally just had to experience for myself. After a little more than a month using it, here are my impressions of the latest version of Apple’s browser.
Although Safari has a clean-cut look that obviously goes very well with the whole OS, I have to admit that what really lured me into switching browsers were just a few features that caught my attention.
Mountain Lion brought along with it a Safari that feels much more like an organic part of the operative system. You can tweet, message (through Apple’s own messaging service), email and bookmark right from Safari without the need of external plugins or apps.
Coming into Safari, I was very curious to see how these features would work. A month later I can say that they’re all very well implemented and nice to have, but I haven’t used them much and therefore they’re not essential for me.
Reading List is perhaps my favorite feature of Safari, and surely the one that I would miss the most if I stopped using it. Once you send a page to it, Reading List is supposed to save all of its contents for offline reading. While this is a great idea, I’ve found that it doesn’t always save all of the pages that I tell it to, and if it does, sometimes they don’t get correctly displayed while being offline. But when it works, it’s the best thing.
Reader is also a great feature that I’ve found myself using a lot. When you activate it, Safari will recognize the body of the article that you are reading and it will show it to you in a clean, white-ish page with a nice big font and no distractions or ads around it. The problem with it is that it isn’t always available for use, even if the page you’re reading is actually an article. And also, pictures don’t always get displayed on Reader mode.
In Mountain Lion Safari works with iCloud to keep all of your tabs and bookmarks in sync, across all of your iOS devices. I have an iPad and an iPod Touch, so I thought this was an amazing way to keep a unified Safari. The bookmark synchronization works great, even my bookmarks bar is shown up-to-date in my iPad. Tap Synchronization requires iOS 6, though, so if you aren’t using it yet you won’t be able to sync tabs (e.g. you won’t be able to sync tabs with an iPad 1).
Problems Loading Pages
Lately I haven’t been able to use Gmail in Safari. It started by loading my inbox but ignoring any type of interaction, it just wouldn’t load anything past the inbox. I tried everything from restarting my computer to cleaning everything inside the “Reset Safari” menu, and nothing worked. Actually, it got much worse, now this is the only thing I get when I try to access Gmail:
But that isn’t it, I also occasionally get the same bug (where the page loads but is unresponsive) with Facebook, and some features like the chat sometimes won’t even load at all. YouTube also from time to time gives me a hard time loading videos, it’ll just show a black rectangle where the video is supposed to be shown but nothing ever does load, until I restart the browser.
I usually work with a lot of tabs inside one window, I just have a bad habit of leaving open tabs for use later. While using Chrome, I have no problem with this since no matter how many tabs you have open, all of them will always be shown in your tab navigation bar. However, in Safari all of your tabs after the twelfth one will be hidden inside a “sublist” at the end of the tab navigation bar, making it harder to know where the rest of your tabs are.
Using something like jiTouch or keyboard shortcuts for switching tabs can get pretty annoying when you get to the “hidden” tabs, since you don’t really know where exactly you are located in the list of your tabs, and so navigating around can get pretty confusing.
- Back button: I’ve found the “back” button to work a bit funny with Safari, especially with pages that hold sessions (whereas in Chrome, the back button on those pages works just fine).
- Constant page lockups: Ocassionally I get a message that says something like “Pages aren’t loading correctly, in order to open this page all open tabs need to be reloaded”.
- Link previews: I know there’s a way to enable the status bar so that whenever you hover over a link, the URL that it’s linking to is displayed. However, having that bar always displayed takes away a lot of the aesthetics of Safari, and I much prefer Chrome’s way of having a bar that popups when you hover over a link, and hides after you move the cursor away.
- Autofill: I have found that Autofill does not always activates whenever I’m filling a form. It’s frustrating having to fill in a form manually just because Autofill decided not to work with certain specific forms.
- Tab name preview: When you load a new tab from a bookmark, in Safari the tab will be named after whatever your bookmark is called, instead of the default name. This is really annoying in pages where the tab name is used to display some sort of information, like my unread email count in Gmail or the number of notifications on Facebook.
I really wish Safari worked for me. It has awesome features, it looks great and it’s a somewhat functional browser, but for some reason it seems to act up on me a lot of the time. Is this normal? Do any of you Safari regular users have had problems like the ones I’ve described in this post?
I know Chrome isn’t flawless either, I’ve had my share of problems with it (tab freeze, anyone?), but for the most part I have been happy with it. Even though it doesn’t have a lot of shiny cool features like Safari does, everything it does, works. What about you? Which browser works for you, and why?
Editor’s Note: Of course, everyone has their own preference, and I happen to prefer Safari. Look for a followup soon!