APPLE HAS ANNOUNCED THE PUBLIC BETA OF SAFARI 4 which it says is "the fastest and most innovative browser available for Mac and Windows PCs," claims which remain to be proven as yet.
What is apparent from the get go, however, is that Apple has pulled out all of the stops to make Safari look gorgeous. Many lessons have been learned from the way in which Itunes and OSX display files and folder, and you can now display your Top Sites in a faux-3D amphitheatre of webby wondrousness.
In this mode you can permanently pin all of your most visited sites to your startup page and quickly search your history using the text input field in the bottom right of the window.
It takes a few moments to populate each of the windows but, once they have been cached, everything moves along lickety split.
Searching your browser history quickly flicks into the now familiar cover flow mode but, as far as we can tell, only pages which have been visited using the new version of the browser are properly displayed in their full visual glory.
But once you've built up a new set of history markers, flicking through them is intuitive and impressively fast.
We've only had a brief play with Apple's latest browser, and on the surface everything seems to run quickly and without problems. Demanding sites like the BBC's Iplayer work flawlessly, and additional interface tweaks like tabs which pop out of the top of the main window rather than stealing little bits of your viewable screen seem so obvious once someone else thinks of them. But with built-in support for CSS 3 and HTML 5, Safari looks like it may well have stepped ahead of the game.
And if looks are anything to go by, Internet Exploder, Firefox and the rest of the browser crowd had better shape up sharpish. µ