Apple's Safari browser turns 13 years old today

Posted:
in Mac Software
Steve Jobs unveiled the "Fastest Web Browser Ever Created for the Mac" this day back in 2003, introducing the Safari web browser that four years later would power a new kind of mobile browsing experience on iPhone.


Safari 1


The appearance of Safari may have seemed to be too late to matter in the history of HTML development; Microsoft and Netscape/Mozilla had already battled over web browsers, resulting in an established pair of browser engines that appeared to limit the emergence of any new challengers.

"We are bringing innovation back into this category with the first all new browser created in many years," Jobs stated.

A return to open web standards



Launching its own web browser enabled Apple to not only retain its customers as the importance of the web increased and as Netscape and Microsoft wavered in their interest in supporting the Mac platform, but also gave Apple greater control over the direction of web standards.

Apple not only launched its own browser app but also developed a unique WebCore browser engine (based on a fork of KHTML, an existing open source project) in competition with Microsoft's Trident and Mozilla's Gecko.

Apple's parallel push for open, complete web standards, rather than the proprietary web extensions favored by Microsoft, created a more consistent platform for web developers and a more level playing ground for all browser developers. In 2008, WebKit became first browser engine to fully pass Acid3 rendering test.

Owning the critical technology also allowed Apple to advance adoption of HTML5 as an open alternative to web apps and video necessitating a proprietary middleware plugin such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight. A core feature of HTML5 is Canvas, Apple's patented technology that it contributed royalty-free to accelerate the development of the open web. This came largely at the expense of Microsoft and Adobe.

A massive open source project



While Safari's WebCore and JavaScript Core libraries (both sourced from KHTML) were always open source, Apple announced in 2005 that it would be making its entire browser implementation available to the community, resulting in WebKit, a complete package other vendors could use to quickly launch their own browsers.

Nokia contributed efforts to bring WebKit to its mobile phones and Google launched Chrome as an WebKit browser for Windows in preference to perpetually funding Mozilla's development of an Internet Explorer alternative. Apple initially maintained a port of Safari for Windows PCs, but eventually stopped the project as Google and other developers took over the work of maintaining WebKit on Windows.


Safari on iPhone in 2007


In 2007, Apple launched Safari on the original iPhone using the same WebKit engine and a new multitouch interface. "We wanted the best web browser on a phone," Jobs said, "so we picked the best one in the world, Safari. We have Safari running on iPhone -- it's the first fully-usable browser on a cellphone."

Because Google subsequently also used WebKit in Android, the fledgeling browser engine Apple had introduced in the face of overwhelming competition on the PC desktop quickly became the dominant mobile browser. Today, it's virtually the only browser in use on mobile devices.
macky the macky

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    koopkoop Posts: 337member
    Safari on mobile is pretty legendary. It's always been a cut above the rest. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 2 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,162member
    I still have nightmares about what browsers were like on the Mac before Safari. For years Microsoft’s IE browser was the default on the Mac (as a result of the deal between Jobs and Gates). But IE for the Mac was a crippled joke and many websites wouldn’t work properly even though they advertised being IE compatible. IE for Windows maybe but not IE for Mac. Netscape was long gone, “embraced and extended” to death by Microsoft. Alternatives were all but non-existent. There were more than a few websites that quite literally told Mac users to go away and not come back. When Safari debuted I immediately made it my browser of choice and so it remains to this day for me. I couldn’t care less about Firefox, Chrome, Opera or any other third party browser that claims to be God’s gift to the Internet.
    macky the mackycornchip
  • Reply 3 of 19
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,161member
    koop said:
    Safari on mobile is pretty legendary. It's always been a cut above the rest. 
    It is. Having the first full fledged browser on a mobile phone was awesome back when the first iPhone came out. It was incredible to use for the first time after coming from the awful browser on the Motorola Razer. 
    macky the mackymelodyof1974
  • Reply 4 of 19
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,347member
    Yep, cheers to Safari!  Oh, and and rot in hell IE!
    macky the mackycornchip
  • Reply 5 of 19
    Microsoft tried pretty hard to make a rough road for other browsers. It was IE 6 that was the worst bastard browser. MS made it to run smoothest in their own OS. They MS produced a website development program that would basically make the newly made site a Windows-only site for visitors. What a bunch of communists!

    For what it's worth, a few days ago MS threw in the towel on supporting all their old browsers, up  to and including IE 10. Can you believe it!?
    cornchip
  • Reply 6 of 19
    I remember when Safari first came out. I still had to use IE for a few sites but as more and more sites supported Mozilla and a couple of OS releases later and Safari became my default browser. I still use IE for 1 site I really MUST use (but greatly wish I didn't) but other than that I can't think of a single site I use that Safari doesn't work with. Now, once we kill off Flash the internet will be a much better place.
    cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 19
    ksecksec Posts: 1,566member
    I am a little worried about WebKit not having as many contributors, now it is pretty much Apple only.

    May be, may be it wont matter, I am not sure, since most development now are moving to Apps.
  • Reply 8 of 19
    jdwjdw Posts: 774member
    After 13 years, you'd think Safari would have working cursors.  But no, even 9.0.2 kills the pointy-finger hand (hover) cursor into a plain Jane arrow cursor after you leave the app open for a while.  Then you have to relaunch your apps to get it working normally again.  That's 13-year-old progress?

    Lion made me ditch Safari for Chrome, but then last year I started using Safari instead of Chrome (except for Netflix, which makes me still use Chrome because stupid 13-year-old Safari locks up playing videos after a few minutes).

    Maybe it will finally become near-perfect in another 13 years...
  • Reply 9 of 19
    Unfortunately Apple has left Safari to rot on OSX. It is the browser that supports the least number of HMTL5 elements. 
    boredumb
  • Reply 10 of 19
    stevenozstevenoz Posts: 237member
    Uh-oh. Teenagers, who can control them?
  • Reply 11 of 19
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,291member
    staticx57 said:
    Unfortunately Apple has left Safari to rot on OSX. It is the browser that supports the least number of HMTL5 elements. 
    Not hardly. Then again if you would just do some research on the new WebKit web site you might know your theory is bunk.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,291member
    ksec said:
    I am a little worried about WebKit not having as many contributors, now it is pretty much Apple only.

    May be, may be it wont matter, I am not sure, since most development now are moving to Apps.
    I'm not. With Linux and OS X ala GNOME GTK+ and OS X/iOS the stability and development has matured and stopped being a chaotic mess when Google, KDE, and every tom dick and harry wanted to join as a port summarily slowing development.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    staticx57 said:
    Unfortunately Apple has left Safari to rot on OSX. It is the browser that supports the least number of HMTL5 elements. 
    Not hardly. Then again if you would just do some research on the new WebKit web site you might know your theory is bunk.

    YOUR BROWSER SCORES 443 OUT OF 555 POINTS

    You are using WebKit Nightly Build on OS X El Capitan 10.11


    YOUR BROWSER SCORES 521 OUT OF 555 POINTS

    You are using Chrome Dev 48.0.2564.71 on OS X El Capitan 10.11


    My theory? Perhaps you can provide more concrete evidence rather than html5test.com?

  • Reply 14 of 19
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,364member
    Safari - 13 years old. Current version 9.
    Firefox - 13 years old. Current version 43.

    Seems like a massive disparity.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    astra4astra4 Posts: 46member

    How come Maps still aint available vor web/Safari Access?

    I mean since Safari is a 13 year old !!?

  • Reply 16 of 19
    xbitxbit Posts: 243member

    Because Google subsequently also used WebKit in Android, the fledgeling browser engine Apple had introduced in the face of overwhelming competition on the PC desktop quickly became the dominant mobile browser. Today, it's virtually the only browser in use on mobile devices.
    WebKit was already the dominant browser engine on mobile, even before the iPhone was released. Back when Nokia enjoyed 70%+ smartphone marketshare, it's browser was based on WebKit too.
  • Reply 17 of 19
    croprcropr Posts: 953member
    staticx57 said:
    Unfortunately Apple has left Safari to rot on OSX. It is the browser that supports the least number of HMTL5 elements. 
    Not hardly. Then again if you would just do some research on the new WebKit web site you might know your theory is bunk.
    If you are a web developer like me, you could only agree that in terms of HTML5 features the webkit development has stalled.  Looking at html5test.com gives a good indication (Chrome 526 points, Firefox 468, Edge 402, Safari 400).  And even the HTML5test figures tend to be more positive than the reality.  Safari score points for features that are now deprecated but fails for features that, during the last 3 years, were approved as standard. This is not a positive evolution


  • Reply 18 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    cropr said:
    Not hardly. Then again if you would just do some research on the new WebKit web site you might know your theory is bunk.
    If you are a web developer like me, you could only agree that in terms of HTML5 features the webkit development has stalled.  Looking at html5test.com gives a good indication (Chrome 526 points, Firefox 468, Edge 402, Safari 400).  And even the HTML5test figures tend to be more positive than the reality.  Safari score points for features that are now deprecated but fails for features that, during the last 3 years, were approved as standard. This is not a positive evolution


    Funny how Chrome is now SLOW AS SLUDGE... On Windows 10 (I'm using Firefox). Maybe they should concentrate on that instead don't you think?

    Web pages are slow enough these days with hundreds of links downloading  and dozens of megabytes, etc without the browser rendering itself adding to the pain.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,291member
    cropr said:
    Not hardly. Then again if you would just do some research on the new WebKit web site you might know your theory is bunk.
    If you are a web developer like me, you could only agree that in terms of HTML5 features the webkit development has stalled.  Looking at html5test.com gives a good indication (Chrome 526 points, Firefox 468, Edge 402, Safari 400).  And even the HTML5test figures tend to be more positive than the reality.  Safari score points for features that are now deprecated but fails for features that, during the last 3 years, were approved as standard. This is not a positive evolution


    Sorry, but keeping up with the latest W3C approved standards does not make a product current. It makes it unstable and ultimately unmaintainable. If you actually look here:

    https://webkit.org/status/

    and are angry that they aren't leading in the html5test.com score then you really are not a web developer I would respect. Perhaps you hope Apple would branch their source tree and offer a mainline and experimental flavor?

    The baseline of Safari Nightly is as current as they should be, while maintaining a solid platform. It'll definitely push those html5test.com scores higher, but then again their release product allows a seasoned web developer to target a smaller footprint for site development as it will translate across a variety of engines so the client can view the pages none the wiser.

    Catering to CSS 3/4 experimental or even dissented specs that the general community of developers can never agree upon, but Google is pushing is a dumb way to bet on making a living on the web.

    edited January 2016
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