Mavericks Feature Focus: Safari 7 and iCloud Keychain

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Safari's sixth major revision brings some visual tweaks, a slew of performance and power efficiency enhancements, and Apple's all-new integrated password manager, iCloud Keychain.

Safari 7

Safari 7

Safari may never ascend to the same lofty market share heights as Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Google's Chrome, but the browser is still a core feature of Apple's desktop operating system. Here, we take a look at the new features and enhancements Apple added to its default Mac browser.

Top Sites

The Top Sites feature, introduced with Safari 4 in 2009, receives a new coat of paint and some minor functional changes. Rather than the three-dimensional effect of Safaris past, Top Sites now shows as a flat wall of preview tiles arranged in a four-by-three grid by default, with the option to add or remove tiles from the preferences menu.

Users can still permanently pin or remove specific sites from the grid using buttons in the upper-left hand corner of each tile, but the buttons are now accessed by hovering the mouse pointer over the tile, rather than the edit button that formerly lived in the lower left of the window.

Tiles can also be rearranged by drag-and-drop. Other tiles will shift and move out of the way, much like rearranging icons in iOS.

The Sidebar

Sitting next to Top Sites, the Sidebar is Safari 7's biggest user interface change. Toggled by a new entry in the "View" menu, the "open book" icon in the Favorites (nee Bokmarks) bar, or with the Command + Shift + L keyboard shortcut, Top Sites is the new home for holdovers Bookmarks and Reading List as well as Safari's new Shared Links feature.

The redesigned Bookmarks area works intuitively --?clicking a folder will expand it, and clicking a specific bookmark will load the page it points to. Bookmarks can be edited or renamed with a secondary click, and reordered by drag-and-drop.

Safari 7
Reading List's new continuous scrolling feature


Reading List brings a new, continuous reading mode in Mavericks. Scrolling past the end of a Reading List story will automatically begin to load the next one. Likewise, scrolling to the top will load the previous story.

If a user has a Twitter account configured with Mavericks, Shared Links will collect links from accounts the user follows and display them in the sidebar, along with the sharer's name, profile photo, and the balance of the tweet. Like Reading List, scrolling past the end of one Shared Link will begin to load the new one, and scrolling past the top will load the previous.

The + button

Standalone buttons for adding links to Bookmarks or Reading List have gone the way of the dodo in Safari 7, replaced by a single, unmovable "+" button attached to the left side of the address bar.

Clicking and releasing the button will add the current page to Reading List, while clicking and holding presents a dropdown menu with options to add to Reading List, a specific bookmarks folder, or the Favorites bar.

Safari 7


Plugins

Safari now blocks most plugins by default, asking the user if they would like to enable them on a per-site basis. The first time around, users will be prompted with a binary decision; choosing to "Trust" the site will allow the plugin to be used in perpetuity by that site, while choosing "Cancel" will book the decision down the road until the next time the site asks to load that plugin.

Decisions are not final, however. Under the Security section of Safari's Preferences, users can change the setting for each site, as well as swap the default behavior from blocking to allowing on a per-plugin basis.

iCloud Keychain

iCloud Keychain is Apple's answer to the age-old password problem of balancing security with convenience. It integrates management of credentials and payment information right into Safari, emulating some of the functionality offered by third-party programs like 1Password.

Setup

Users are prompted to configure iCloud Keychain during the Mavericks upgrade process, but if they choose not to do it at that time, the feature can be enabled and disabled by a checkbox in the iCloud preference pane.

Enabling iCloud Keychain for the first time will walk the user through a series of security steps, beginning with confirming their iCloud password. iCloud will then prompt the user to create a four-digit security code --?this code will be used as a way of quickly authorizing other devices in the same iCloud account to use the keychain.

Safari 7


Using iCloud Keychain

With iCloud Keychain enabled, Safari will continue to ask you whether you want to save your password when logging into websites. Rather than saving locally, however, it will be saved to your iCloud Keychain and automatically replicated to the keychains on your other Apple devices.

Safari will also suggest longer, more secure passwords and automatically save them when it detects the user typing in a website's password field. It will do the same for payment credentials like credit cards, allowing the user to choose from a list of saved cards when it encounters a credit card number field. Users will still have to manually enter their card's security code, as it is not stored alongside the card number for security reasons.

Bizarrely, however, Safari will not recommend passwords on websites that do not already have a saved password --?this means users must first sign up for a website with a password of their own choosing, allow Safari to save that password, and then change their password in the website's interface before Safari will suggest and save one of its longer, random passwords.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    "Bizarrely, however, Safari will not recommend passwords on websites that do not already have a saved password %u2014 this means users must first sign up for a website with a password of their own choosing, allow Safari to save that password, and then change their password in the website's interface before Safari will suggest and save one of its longer, random passwords."

    I have not seen this issue.
  • Reply 2 of 53
    Sadly, performance of Safari is downgraded. iCloud keychane installation does not work proper for many user
  • Reply 3 of 53

    How is it downgraded? I see much smoother scrolling, fast load times, no more locks when I try to zoom in on text. Feels a little better in performance than the last version, then again, so does the whole OS.

     

    iCloud keychain is a (*&^% pain to set up, but there's a reason you have to type in your password a bigillion times and verify everything, it's an iCloud keychain. This has also worked well for me so far (knock on wood). I haven't trusted it with any CC numbers yet :)

  • Reply 4 of 53
    I just want my CAC card to work again. Before Mountain Lion, all I had to do was hook up my USB CAC reader to my MBP/iMac, open safari, click the bookmark, type in my PIN when prompted and I could check my work email and other CAC-required sites for my job. But no, I still have to run Win7 via VirtualBox, where it's flawless. Why can't I have my CAC access back?!? Btw for freeware, VirtualBox is the best I've found. Love it!
  • Reply 5 of 53
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,707member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post



    "Bizarrely, however, Safari will not recommend passwords on websites that do not already have a saved password %u2014 this means users must first sign up for a website with a password of their own choosing, allow Safari to save that password, and then change their password in the website's interface before Safari will suggest and save one of its longer, random passwords."



    I have not seen this issue.

     

    I have seen this with all of the websites I browse to that require a password (such as AppleInsider for example). It will only offer to store the password in the cloud, but will not offer to create a new password, even if you try to change your password. 

  • Reply 6 of 53
    I would like for keychain to work in apps.
  • Reply 7 of 53
    akqiesakqies Posts: 768member
    I agree that it emulates some of the functionality of 1Password and hopefully it will get a lot more users to create complex and unique passwords for every account but I don't see this hurting 1Password's business with the current iCloud implementation.
  • Reply 8 of 53
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Would love if we can customize the + button to add Bookmark instead.

    And good thing that the Sidebar is not an iOS 7 style. It has shadow. It has glow. And it's beautiful. Thank god. If the active row is darker rather than lighter it would be perfect.
    It's funny that anything isn't iOS 7 look-alike immediately pleasing.

    Also, like "All" and "Unread" in Reading List, I would love for Shared Links Sidebar to have "Update Shared Links" that you can press without right-clciking.
  • Reply 9 of 53
    akqiesakqies Posts: 768member
    matrix07 wrote: »
    Would love if we can customize the + button to add Bookmark instead.

    And good thing that the Sidebar is not an iOS 7 style. It has shadow. It has glowing. And it's beautiful. Thank god. If the active row is darker rather than lighter it would be perfect.
    It's funny that anything isn't iOS 7 look-alike immediately pleasing.

    Huh! There is no button for adding a bookmark in the Customize Toolbar section.

    Since it can be invoked with Command+D I wonder if there is a Safari Extension that will perform the required task. (Don't care enough to actually look it up)
  • Reply 10 of 53
    I simply LOVE the "Automatically Open in Tabs" functionality on the Bookmarks bar. Not sure if always existed but just now I had it ON and have all my fav. daily tabs open with one click. THE BEST
  • Reply 11 of 53
    That's not everything iCloud Keychain is syncing,

    I just noticed that Wi-Fi passwords are also kept in sync: I have several networks at home and I just reset all my iOS devices, so I started connecting to Wi-Fi networks (half of them VPN to another country) as I came near them. A couple of days later I noticed the my desktop Mac was connected to Wi-Fi.

    I keep Wi-Fi to use AirDrop but whenever I have connected to a Wi-Fi network for testing purposes I manually delete it from the Mac to keep using gigabit Ethernet instead. Since most iOS devices are attached to a data plan I also noticed they connected themselves to Wi-Fi too%u2014they had updated their iCloud Keychain over 3G.

    It's both a great thing and a horrible thing, it's a good thing Wi-Fi passwords can be synced, it's a bad thing Wi-Fi password are [without the ability to opt-out] synced.

    Some Apple TV connect to local Netflix, some connect to another country's Netflix, content varies wildly and iOS doesn't shows where are you connected to, it just shows you're connected and even though they're on the same physical networks, they're on different virtual networks, subnets, etc, that Macs have no problem finding each other as long as they're on the same subnetwork or one higher (the highest being the internet) but iOS devices won't see each other but the ones on the same subnetwork, they rely on Home Sharing which is both a blessing and a huge obstacle.

    You can opt-out of iCloud Keychain but it's all or nothing. You can't section it. :/
  • Reply 12 of 53
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CommentSF View Post



    I simply LOVE the "Automatically Open in Tabs" functionality on the Bookmarks bar. Not sure if always existed but just now I had it ON and have all my fav. daily tabs open with one click. THE BEST

    May I ask.. What are you talking about? :D

     

    Oh and I love this:

     

     

    Didn't know if previous version has it.

  • Reply 13 of 53
    "ndirishfan1975
    I would like for keychain to work in apps."

    Yes this is coming, app developers will have to build iCloud keychains functionality into their apps, when apple gives them the ability to do so. It will probably take some time as apple will want to test it for a long period, to iron out any kinks and improve security. I just used iCloud keychains when I logged into Apple Insider to post this comment. Working great so far.
  • Reply 14 of 53
    Open in tabs feature allows you to open an entire folder of bookmarks all at once into multiple tabs. Yes, it's very useful. I think it's been around since at least OS X 6 Lion.
  • Reply 15 of 53
    koopkoop Posts: 337member

    hurray tops sites is actually clean and useful and not some bloated eye candy! 

  • Reply 16 of 53
    The last paragraph of the article is incorrect in my experience. When you click inside the field to enter a password for a new site you signing up for, it pops up with a suggestion. Maybe specific sites block or confuse the feature?
  • Reply 17 of 53
    With the new update I can't use Facebook video call no more. Is there a fix for this?
  • Reply 18 of 53
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    I like the new Safari. It is much more simplified.

    The only thing I would change are its dull colors in Top Sites view.

    One more thing: I prefer the flat iOS Safari logo to the OSX Safari logo.
  • Reply 19 of 53
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,868member
    Only Apple Insider's web site causes Safari 7 issues for me. Virtually every time I try to edit a post I get a crash. All credit to Safari, it reloads the exact same page in a second. Is it only me with this issue?

    Edit: I have ClicktoFlash and AdBlock installed ... maybe this is the issue. I'll try with them off for a while.

    Haha ... I crashed writing this edit. The speed Safari recovered (I am using an SSD) is remarkable though.
  • Reply 20 of 53
    technotechno Posts: 685member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post



    "Bizarrely, however, Safari will not recommend passwords on websites that do not already have a saved password %u2014 this means users must first sign up for a website with a password of their own choosing, allow Safari to save that password, and then change their password in the website's interface before Safari will suggest and save one of its longer, random passwords."



    I have not seen this issue.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macxpress View Post

     

     

    I have seen this with all of the websites I browse to that require a password (such as AppleInsider for example). It will only offer to store the password in the cloud, but will not offer to create a new password, even if you try to change your password. 


    I found that if I want to change an existing password, I must first delete the entry in Keychain Access. Then when I go the website's change address form, it will suggest a new one.

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