Apple’s Safari 4 Public Beta is a UI disaster

“A few days ago, Apple surprised everyone by releasing the first beta of Safari 4, the company’s latest version of their WebKit browser. While I generally love Safari on the Mac (my browser of choice on that side of the fence), I’ve never felt as comfortable with it on the Windows side of things. In any case, this latest beta has made a very bold move in the interface department, and I’m sad to say that it’s not for the better,” Thom Holwerda writes for OS News.

“This is where it goes wrong for Safari 4. There, the tabs are the titlebar, leading to a rather schizophrenic UI widget: it has to act as a titlebar and a tab bar, and consequently, does neither of the two very well. Since you have to be able to drag the window via this new tabtitlebar widget, Apple had to create a special and small handle for moving tabs, while making the tabs themselves the place to drag the window. This design decision is something I expect from a 6 year old who writes his first tabbed text editor – not from a company that prides itself on UI design,” Holwerda writes.

“That’s not all, though. Because Apple wanted the tabs to make up the titlebar, they had to ditch this well-established concept of spatial memory, making tabs change size continiously, since even if you have one tab, it needs to be wide enough to cover the entire titlebar. This makes the resize handle and tab title move around like crazy,” Holwerda writes.

“To me, it seems like Apple had heard that ‘Chrome has tabs on top,’ but instead of just being honest and admitting that Google got it right, they set a goal for themselves to make as many arbitrary and useless changes as possible so they could still claim they were innovating. All these changes resulted in this botched and confusing tabtitlebar abomination that not only looks horribly out of place on both Mac OS X and Windows, but is also a functional disaster,” Holwerda writes. “I hope Apple’s Safari engineers recover from this monumental design frak-up quickly, because if this stays the way it is, I won’t be using Safari on my Mac anymore.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s highly likely that we use the Safari web browser more than, or at least as much as, any living person. 16, 18, and even more hours per day. When the very first thing we did after the first day with Safari 4 Public Beta was to fire up the Terminal to nuke the poorly-thought-out tabs, restoring them back under the Bookmarks Bar where they belong, and re-enable the blue loading bar behind the URL, then Apple has a problem.

Hopefully, Apple is listening: Rethink and rework the current default Tabs in Safari 4 Public Beta before the final release. They suck enough to have come out of Microsoft.

Holwerda doesn’t need to junk Safari 4, he just needs to do this:

$ defaults write DebugSafari4TabBarIsOnTop -bool NO
$ defaults write DebugSafari4IncludeToolbarRedesign -bool NO
$ defaults write DebugSafari4LoadProgressStyle -bool NO

Then just relaunch Safari for the changes to take effect and go to View>Customize Toolbar> and add the Stop/Reload button, so that Safari 4 Public Beta looks and works like this:

For more info on changing and restoring Safari 4 Public Beta features, see "Safari 4 Hidden Preferences," here.

Apple should at least provide the ability to do what we've done above via the final version of Safari 4's preferences.

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