Safari 4 to Take Aim at Flash, Beef up Web 2.0 Apps

Apple seeds Safari 4

Hot on the heels of the just released Safari 3.1, some of whose features are reportedly trickling down to baby brother MobileSafari on the iPhone 2.0 firmware, Apple has reportedly begun seeding early builds of Safari 4 (5526.11.2) to developers.

The big news? WebKit's screaming fast SquirelFish Javascript engine is a go, and 53% faster, which will be huge for Web 2.0 apps like Google's... and the newly announced MobileMe service from Apple, of course!

Other new features include the ability to spin off "Site Specific Browsers" (or SSBs), which are basically thin browser clients for your favorite Web 2.0 apps -- imagine a dedicate window on your desktop just for MobileMe. Continued CSS attribute additions like gradients, masks, and reflections are also on spec (Gee, gradients and reflections? From Apple? What a surprise...)

Combined with the CSS and HTML 5.0 features already added in 3.1, such as animation, video, and audio tags, Apple seems to be retaining its focus on open, web standard interactivity, in conjunction with old nemesis Flash and similar -- sometimes buggy -- technologies like Silverlight on the desktop (for now), and in lieu of them on the iPhone. Add in QuickTime X, and Apple is definitely trying to leverage some space away from the current, pseudo-proprietary web video giants.

While OS 10.6 Snow Leopard isn't expected until mid-2009, Safari 4 seems on the fast track for a much sooner release.

Can another MobileSafari bump for the iPhone be far behind?

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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