Is Apple’s Safari Technology Preview Worth Trying?

Apple SafariApple recently released the third update for Safari Technology Preview, a browser designed exclusively with web developers in mind. The release mostly contained a ton of bugfixes – nothing really noteworthy from a feature standpoint. Still, it’s great that they’ve a regular update cycle.

Only problem is, it’s not really regular compared to the competition.

See, Safari Technology Preview was originally launched on March 30. That means thus far, it’s received an update every two weeks. Now, on the surface, that might not seem so bad – until you consider that Mozilla Firefox’s Nightly builds and Google’s Chrome Canary builds are released daily. In short, if Apple’s looking to compete in the browser space where developers are concerned, it needs to pull up its socks and buckle down.

That isn’t to say the browser’s without its advantages, mind you. It’s an easier way for developers to get their hands on the nightly builds of Webkit, Apple’s open-source browser engine. Plus, it ensures that users on OSX and related operating systems have a browser with the latest web technologies – all the better to code with.

But what else does it offer from a web development perspective?

“The Technology Preview offers several new features that are included in the nightly builds of WebKit but not in the stable version of Safari,” notes Ars Technica’s Andrew Cunningham. “It offers “one of the most complete implementations of ECMAScript 6,” the latest version of the standard behind JavaScript; the B3 JIT JavaScript compiler, a new compiler described specifically for JavaScript; a “revamped IndexedDB implementation that is more stable and more standards compliant;” and support for Shadow DOM.”

That’s pretty good, right?

Again, we’re looking at the competition here. Apple’s developer tools are far behind the tools found in Chrome and Firefox as far as standards support is concerned. Still, the browser is a step in the right direction – and signifies an interesting shift by Apple.

“It seems to me the Safari Technical Preview indicates Apple is shifting its focus on the Mac to web and cloud based computing,” explains Rex Chamberlain of Apple Toolbox. “More and more, it seems Macs are being aimed at business users and other consumers who prefer the familiar stable environment of the Mac. With the release of the Safari Technical Preview, it appears Apple has all but given up on making the Mac, particularly the Mac App Store, a bustling innovative environment similar to iOS.”

As for what Apple does plan to make it? Who can say? In the immediate future, Macs could potentially become to web design what they are to graphic design. But that’s all conjecture – for the time being, give Apple’s new developer-centric browser a try if you’ve the chance.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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