Dan Moren on how Apple has messed with Safari

From "Surfin’ Safari 15" posted Monday on MacWorld:

If there’s a contentious move in Apple’s latest suite of improvements, it’s the redesign to the company’s web browser. While I don’t have metrics on hand, I’d be pretty surprised if Safari weren’t the most commonly used program on at least the iPhone and iPad. This means even a meager change is likely to make waves and, as changes go, Safari 15 is anything but meager.

Amongst its most notable updates, Safari 15 redesigns tabs as little rectangles, subsuming them into the window chrome, which now matches the color of whatever webpage you’re viewing. Apple’s stated goal is to get the browser out of the way, but there’s a reasonable question of whether this is a matter of form over function. Several common features—including the refresh button—are now hidden away beneath a single button in the location bar, necessitating an extra click. (Though you can now reload a page by pulling down from the top.) And titles in tabs are often truncated, making it hard to differentiate them, especially if you have multiple pages from the same site open. On the iPhone, the location bar has moved to the bottom, which can obscure some content and even controls.

Apple’s thought about some of these issues, it’s clear. In the company’s Design for Safari 15 WWDC session, Web Technologies Evangelist Jen Simmons mentions that if Safari detects that the color of your page might negatively affect accessibility, the browser will override and default back to white. And it advises web developers to take the iPhone location bar into account when creating their sites.

But that and other design changes will require a legion of web designers to rework parts of their sites, and with Safari only one browser amongst many—albeit a popular one—that seems like potentially a losing proposition for Apple. It is, of course, possible that further tweaks to the browser may be forthcoming during the beta period that makes these changes more palatable… but it’s just as likely that Apple stands pat.

My take: When not writing SF novels or hosting podcasts, the prolific Moren hangs around WWDC after the keynote soaking up Apple gossip and churning out news-you-can-use for Six Colors. He will be our Zoom guest this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern (1:30 Pacific). Subscribers only.

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