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Apple's New Safari Brought to You by Google Chrome

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Apple’s (AAPL) Worldwide Developers Conference started yesterday, and the company hasn’t wasted any time unveiling exciting new products. New and improved versions of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac software have been announced, all hoping to beat back the competition, be it Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), or even BlackBerry (RIMM).

Amid all the hoopla, Apple has announced a new version of its proprietary Safari browser that takes a few notes from Google’s wildly successful Chrome. Among other changes, the new Safari has eliminated separate URL and search bars.

The new version also includes tab synchronization through iCloud, allowing users to share tabs across iCloud-enabled devices. This feature had previously been available for Chrome, as well as Firefox and Opera.

The new version of the browser will include a larger reader button, which will now save the entire webpage when an item is added to it. This should be a boon for those looking to read offline.

Cupertino’s new head of software engineering claimed yesterday that the new Safari has the fasted JavaScript engine on any OS. However, he did not provide any benchmarks for this.

The most exciting new feature on the desktop version of Safari calls to mind the iPhone. Users will now be able to flip through different browser tabs using pinching gestures -- like those used on a touchscreen -- on the Trackpad. Tab scrolling should look something like the Cover Flow feature, but it’s still reminiscent of Chrome for Android’s gorgeous fanning of tabs like a deck of cards.

It’s unclear at the moment whether or not these new gestures will work on operating systems other than the new Mountain Lion. The company plans to ship the new browser with Mountain Lion in July.

Now, personally, I’ve always found Safari a little bit clunky. In general, I prefer Chrome -- and based on market share, so does the rest of the world -- even though Google’s browser has always struck me as a little buggier than Firefox or Safari. Apple’s move towards a less cluttered aesthetic should make it a bit more attractive.

Beyond that, I love the idea of easier tab scrolling. Right now, Safari for iPhones tab interface is one of its best features, and a big reason why I use it -- that and it’s the only option.
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