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Apple’s open Safari browser is a graphical web browser. It is primarily built with open-source software, specifically WebKit. As the default web browser for Macintosh computers, it replaced Netscape Navigator, Cyberdog, and Internet Explorer for Mac. It is compatible with macOS, iOS, and iPadOS; a Windows version was available from 2007 to 2010.
Safari first appeared in Mac OS X Panther in January 2003, and as of 2021, it had gone through fifteen major versions. The third generation (January 2007) added iPhone compatibility via iPhone OS 1, while the Macintosh edition boasted the fastest browser performance at the time. The fifth version (June 2010) added a less distracting page reader, extension, and developer tools, as well as being the final version for Windows.
It added support for Intelligent Tracking Prevention in the eleventh version (September 2017). The thirteenth version introduced several privacy and application updates, including FIDO2 USB security key authentication and web Apple Pay support. The fourteenth version, which was released in November 2020, was 50% faster than Google Chrome and used half the battery of other standard competitors. The current revision is the fifteenth (July 2021), which includes a redesigned interface.
To prevent potentially dangerous or vulnerable plugins from running on Safari, Apple used a remotely updated plug-in blacklist license. Safari caused Mac OS X to be the first operating system to fail in a hacking competition at the 2008 CanSecWest security conference. It was chastised for its approach to software distribution and its previous limitations with ad blockers. The Safari Developer Program, which allowed members to create extensions for the browser, cost $USD 99 per year.
According to StatCounter, Apple’s Safari will be the third most popular desktop browser in May 2022, having been surpassed by Microsoft’s Edge. Safari is now installed on 9.61 percent of desktop computers worldwide.
History and development of Safari
Prior to 1997, Apple’s Macintosh computers came with Netscape Navigator and Cyberdog browsers. Under the five-year agreement between Apple and Microsoft, it was later replaced by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for Mac within Mac OS 8.1. During this time, Microsoft released three major revisions of Internet Explorer for Mac, which were used by Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9, though Apple still supported Netscape Navigator as an alternative. Microsoft eventually released a Mac OS X edition of Internet Explorer for Mac in May 2000, which was bundled as the default browser in all Mac OS X releases from DP4 to v10.2.
Prior to the name Safari, several others were considered, including the title ‘Freedom.’ It was privately referred to for over a year as ‘Alexander,’ which means strings in coding formats; and ‘iBrowse’ before Safari was conceived.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced Safari on January 7, 2003, at Macworld San Francisco, which was based on the company’s internal KHTML rendering engine fork WebKit. On the same day, Apple released the first beta version exclusively for Mac OS X. Several official and unofficial beta versions were released after that date, until version 1.0 was released on June 23, 2003. Safari was pre-installed as the system’s default browser in Mac OS X v10.3, rather than requiring a manual download as in previous Mac OS X versions. Safari’s predecessor, the Internet Explorer for Mac, was then included as an alternative in 10.3.
Engineer Dave Hyatt fixed several bugs in Safari in April 2005. On April 27, 2005, his experiment beta passed the Acid2 rendering test, making it the first browser to do so. Safari 2.0, which was released on April 29, 2005, was the only browser available by default in Mac OS X 10.4. Apple marketed this version as having a 1.8x speed boost over version 1.2.4, but it did not yet include the Acid2 bug fixes.
These significant changes were initially unavailable to end-users unless they privately installed and compiled the WebKit source code or ran one of OpenDarwin’s nightly automated builds. Version 2.0.2, which was released on October 31, 2005, finally included changes to Acid2 bug fixes.
Safari 2.0.4, the final stable version of Safari 2 and the last version released exclusively with Mac OS X, was updated for Mac OS X on January 10, 2006. It was only available as part of Mac OS X Update 10.4.4, and it included fixes for layout and CPU usage issues, among other things.
Jobs announced on January 9, 2007, at Macworld San Francisco, that Safari had been ported to the newly introduced iPhone within iPhone OS (later called iOS). The mobile version could display full, desktop-class websites. Jobs announced Safari 3 for Mac OS X 10.5, Windows XP, and Windows Vista at WWDC 2007. He performed a benchmark using the bench browser test suite, comparing the most popular Windows browsers to the browser and claimed that Safari had the fastest performance.
His claim was later investigated by a third-party site called Web Performance over HTTP load times. They confirmed that Safari 3 was the fastest browser on the Windows platform for initial data loading over the Internet, though it was only marginally faster than Internet Explorer 7 and Mozilla Firefox for static content from the local cache.
The first Safari 3 beta version for Windows, which was released on the same day as its announcement at WWDC 2007, contained several bugs as well as a zero-day exploit that allowed remote code executions. Apple fixed the problems three days later, on June 14, 2007, with version 3.0.1. Apple released Safari 3.0.2 on June 22, 2007, to address some bugs, performance issues, and other security concerns.
Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, and other fonts that were missing in the browser but already installed on Windows computers were handled by Safari 3.0.2 for Windows. On June 29, 2007, the iPhone was released with a version of Safari based on the same WebKit rendering engine as the desktop version but with a modified feature set better suited for a mobile device. The version number of Safari reported in its user agent string is 3.0, which is consistent with current desktop editions.
On March 18, 2008, the first stable, non-beta version of Safari for Windows, Safari 3.1, was made available as a free download. In June 2008, Apple released version 3.1.2, which addressed a security vulnerability in the Windows version in which visiting a malicious website could force the download and execution of executable files on the user’s desktop. Safari 3.2, which was released on November 13, 2008, included anti-phishing features such as Google Safe Browsing and support for Extended Validation Certificates. Safari 3’s final version, 3.2.3, was released on May 12, 2009, with security improvements.
Safari 4 used Cover Flow to run the History and Bookmarks, and it included Speculative Loading, which automatically pre-loaded document information needed to visit a specific website. Based on the most frequently visited sites in a startup, the top sites can be displayed with up to 24 thumbnails. The desktop version of Safari 4 received a similar redesign to the iPhone.
Safari 4.1 was released exclusively by Apple alongside Safari 5 for Mac OS X Tiger. Many features from Safari 5 were used, though the Safari Reader and Safari Extensions were not. On July 20, 2011, Apple released Safari 5.1 for both Windows and Mac within Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, which had a faster performance with the addition of ‘Reading List.’ Safari 5.0.6 was released in late June 2010 alongside Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, though the new features were not available to Leopard users.
Several HTML5 features are now supported by Safari 5. It added support for full-screen video, closed captioning, geolocation, EventSource, and an early variant of the WebSocket protocol that is now deprecated. Safari’s fifth major version added support for Full-text search as well as a new search engine, Bing. Reader, which displays web pages in a continuous view without advertisements, was supported by Safari 5. Safari 5 included a smarter address field and DNS prefetching, which found links and looked up addresses on the web automatically. The Domain Name System (DNS) prefetching made new web pages load faster. Graphic acceleration was also improved in the Windows version.
Safari 6.0 was previously known as Safari 5.2 until Apple changed its name at WWDC 2012. The stable release of Safari 6 coincided with the release of OS X Mountain Lion on July 25, 2012, and was integrated within OS. As a result, it was no longer available for download from Apple’s website or any other source. Apple released Safari 6 as a Software Update for users of OS X Lion. It was not released for previous versions of OS X or Windows. Later, the company quietly removed references and links to the Windows version of Safari 5. Microsoft had also removed Safari from its browser selection page.
Apple released a developer preview of Safari 6.0 on June 11, 2012, with a feature called iCloud Tabs, which syncs with open tabs on any iOS or other OS X device running the latest software. It updated new privacy features, such as a “Ask websites not to track me” preference and the ability for websites to send notifications to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion users, but it removed RSS support. In OS X Mountain Lion, Safari 6 supported Share Sheets. Add to Reading List, Add Bookmark, Email this Page, Message, Twitter, and Facebook were the Share Sheet options.
Tabs with full-page previews have also been added. Safari’s sixth major version added the ability to share pages with other users via email, Messages, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as some minor performance improvements. It added CSS support for -WebKit-calc(). In addition, the Activity Window, a separate Download Window, direct support for RSS feeds in the URL field, and bookmarks were all removed. The separate search field and address bar were also removed as toolbar configuration options. Instead, the smart search field, a hybrid of the address bar and the search field, took its place.
Safari 9 was unveiled at WWDC 2015 and was included in OS X El Capitan. Audio muting, more options for Safari Reader, and improved autofill were among the new features. It was not fully compatible with the previous OS X Yosemite because Apple required it to be upgraded to Capitan.
On September 20, 2016, Safari 10 was released as part of OS X Yosemite and OS X El Capitan. It has redesigned the Bookmark and History views, and double-clicking will focus on a specific folder. The update redirected Safari extensions to Pocket and Dic Go for direct saving. Autofill quality from the Contrast card and Web Inspector Timelines Tab, in-line sub-headlines, bylines, and publish dates were among the software enhancements. Legacy plug-ins were disabled by default in favor of HTML5 versions of websites, and the ut tracks and re-applies zoomed level to websites.
Recently closed tabs can be reopened using the History menu or Shift-Command-T while holding the “+” button in the tab bar. When a link opens in a new tab, you can now close it with the back button or swipe to return to the original tab. The Web Inspector now supports debugging. Safari 10 also includes a number of security updates, including fixes for six WebKit vulnerabilities as well as Reader and Tabs issues. Safari 10’s first version was released on September 20, 2016, and the most recent version (10.1.2) was released on July 19, 2017.
On September 19, 2017, Safari 11 was released as part of macOS High Sierra. It was also OS X El Capitan and macOS Sierra compatible. Safari 11 introduced a number of new features, including Intelligent Tracking Prevention, which aimed to prevent cross-site tracking by limiting cookies and other website data. Intelligent Tracking Prevention allowed first-party cookies to continue tracking the browser history, but only for a limited period of time. First-party cookies from ad-tech companies such as Google/Alphabet Inc., for example, were set to expire 24 hours after the visit.
On September 17, 2018, Safari 12 was released as part of macOS Mojave. On September 17, 2018, it was also made available for macOS Sierra and macOS High Sierra. Icons in Tabs, Automatic Strong Passwords, and Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0 were among the new features in Safari 12.
Safari 12.0.1 was released alongside macOS Mojave 10.14.1 on October 30, 2018, and Safari 12.0.2 was released alongside macOS 10.14.2 on December 5, 2018. Developer-signed classic Safari Extensions are no longer supported. This would also be the last version to support the official Extensions Gallery. Apple also encouraged extension authors to migrate to Safari App Extensions, which sparked criticism from the community.
On June 3, 2019, Safari 13 was released as part of macOS Catalina at WWDC 2019. Safari 13 added several new features, including prompting users to change weak passwords, FIDO2 USB security key authentication support, Sign in with Apple support, Apple Pay on the Web support, and improved speed and security. Safari 13 was released on macOS Mojave and macOS High Sierra on September 20, 2019.
It was announced in June 2020 that macOS Big Sur will include Safari 14. Safari 14 added new privacy features, such as the Privacy Report, which displays blocked content and privacy information on web pages. Users will also receive a monthly report on trackers blocked by Safari. Extensions can also be enabled and disabled site by site. Safari 14 added partial support for the WebExtension API, which is used in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Opera, making it easier for developers to port extensions from those browsers to Safari.
Safari will also discontinue support for Adobe Flash Player three months before its end of life. A built-in translation service allows a page to be translated into another language. On September 16, 2020, Safari 14 was released as a standalone update for macOS Catalina and Mojave users. Ecosia has been added as a supported search engine.
On September 20, 2021, Safari 15 was released as part of macOS Monterey and will also be available for macOS Big Sur and macOS Catalina. It had a redesigned interface and tab groups that blended into the background better. On the iOS and iPadOS editions, there was also a new home page and extension support.
Preview of Safari Technology
Safari Technology Preview was released alongside OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 for the first time. Safari Technology Preview releases include the most recent version of WebKit, which includes Web technologies in future stable Safari releases so that developers and users can install the Technology Preview release on a Mac, test the features, and provide feedback.
Program for Safari Developers
The Safari Developer Program was a program for developers of in-browser extensions and HTML. It enabled members to create and distribute browser extensions via the Safari Extensions Gallery. It was initially free until it was included in the Apple Developer Program in WWDC 2015, which cost $99 per year at the time but has since tripled. Developers were irritated by the charges. Apple added Secure Extension Distribution to OS X El Capitan to improve security, and it automatically updated all extensions in the Safari Extensions Gallery.
Safari’s other features and system requirements
Some Apple enhancements to the KHTML code have been incorporated back into the Konqueror project. Apple also released some additional code under a 2-clause BSD-like open-source license. Safari in Mac OS X 10.6 (and later versions) has been compiled for 64-bit architecture. Apple claimed that running Safari in 64-bit mode would speed up rendering by up to 50%.
Private Browsing (a mode in which the browser keeps no record of the user’s web activity), the ability to archive web content in WebArchive format, the ability to email complete web pages directly from a browser menu, the ability to search bookmarks, and the ability to share tabs between all Mac and iOS devices running appropriate software versions via an iCloud account were current features. WebKit2 has a multiprocess API for WebKit, which handles web content in a separate process from the application that uses WebKit. In April 2010, Apple announced WebKit2. With version 5.1, Safari for Mac adopted the new API. With iOS 8, Safari for iOS switched to WebKit2.
Safari for market share
Safari had a 3.85 percent market share in 2009. It held that position for five years, with market shares of 5.56 percent (2010), 7.41 percent (2011), 10.07 percent (2012), and 11.77 percent (2013). (2013). With a 14.20 percent market share in 2014, it surpassed Firefox. In 2015, Safari overtook Google Chrome as the second most popular web browser in the world, with a 13.01 percent market share. Between 2015 and 2020, it held market shares of 14.02 percent, 14.86 percent, 14.69 percent, 17.68 percent, and 19.25 percent, respectively. As of November 2021, Google Chrome remained the most popular browser, with Safari (19.22 percent) coming in second.