updated 09:10 am EDT, Wed June 13, 2007
18 flaws in Safari 3 beta
Naysayers have challenged Apple's performance claims and security in the company's latest Safari 3 browser and have highlighted differences in font rendering. Within a few days of its release, security researchers have found as many as 18 separate bugs in Apple's newest Safari 3.0 browser, which was released as a public beta this week. Some of the security flaws reported, according to a new report, could be used to run unauthorized software on a victim's PC, challenging Apple's claims that Safari that "Apple engineers designed Safari to be secure from day one," one researcher told Infoweek. While the report notes that that Safari 3.0 beta is expected to contain bugs, Apple should have been more careful about exposing the public to such flaws, researchers claim: "In order to have a useful beta test of a Web browser, people need to use it in the real world, which is ultimately exposing them to malware," one researcher who discovered 10 separate flaws told the publication.
Apple's performance claims for its Safari browser are also being challenged by various reports. Apple's CEO told WWDC attendees during his keynote that the new browser was faster than its Internet Explorer and Firefox components; however, online reports have challenged the Cupertino-based company's claims. Tests performed by a Wired News blogger show that "Safari is slower than both IE 7 and Firefox in the login page and message index tests, in both cases by a substantial margin. Only when loading Google Calendar does Safari have a slight edge, clocking in at 12.8 seconds to IE's 17 seconds. But even there, Firefox has both the other browsers beat."
Online reviews also suggest the new browser --in its current beta form -- is not a compelling alternative. "Overall, it's hard to find a compelling reason to like or to dislike the beta version of Safari 3. And without a compelling reason to switch, most Firefox and IE users won't," one Wired News reviewer concluded.
eWEEK said that the browser is "too Mac-like" under Windows and criticized Safari Windows for a lack of customization options, problems with SSL certificates and more while lauding it for simplicity in some areas and features like SnapBack.
The company has also implemented its own algorithm for font rendering, which many believe is inferior to Microsoft's own and causes font blurriness; however, it may be just result of a difference in philosophy, as both companies use sub-pixel rendering to coax sharper-looking fonts out of typical low resolution screens: Apple prefers to adhere to the original design of the font, while Microsoft prefers readability.
"Now that Safari for Windows is available, which goes to great trouble to use Apple's rendering algorithms, you can actually compare the philosophies side-by-side on the very same monitor and see what I mean," one blogger writes. "I think you'll notice the difference. Apple's fonts are indeed fuzzy, with blurry edges, but at small font sizes, there seems to be much more variation between different font families, because their rendering is truer to what the font would look like if it were printed at high resolution."