Last month, Apple released the Safari 4 beta. A few Opera users, myself included, decided to take action after viewing Apple’s false marketing claims. The following is the result of a combined effort. It’s not entirely finished yet, but it’s good enough to cross-post it right now to draw some extra attention to it.
When the Safari 4 beta was released, on February 24, 2009, Apple Inc. published a feature list claiming a long list of innovations, inventions, and browser firsts. While Safari 4 may contain numerous features that are new to current Safari users, many of these have been publicly available to users of other browsers for quite some time, invalidating many of Apple’s claims.
Falsely Claimed Innovations In Safari
Implemented Prior to Safari’s Initial Release
The first public beta of Safari was released on January 7, 2003. This is a list of innovations claimed by Apple that were first added in other browsers prior to Safari’s release.
- Built-in Google search: Apple claims that “Safari was the first popular browser to build a search field into its user interface” (emphasis added). The first public beta of Safari was released on January 7, 2003. Opera 5, however, which was released on December 6, 2000, already featured a built-in search field. The second version of Mozilla Firefox (Phoenix 0.2), which was released on October 1, 2002, contains a similar feature. Consequently, Apple’s usage of “popular browser,” which has been suggested to validate this claim, is ambiguous at best.
- CSS 3 Web fonts: Apple claims that “Safari is the first web browser to automatically recognize websites that use custom fonts, downloading them as they’re needed” (emphasis added). However, Internet Explorer 4, released in 1997, sports this feature as well.
- Downloads window: Apple asserts that “Safari was the first popular browser with a download management window.” However, Opera 3.5, released on November 18, 1998, first introduced a transfer window to the Opera browser. Similarly to the built-in Google search, if Opera is assumed not popular enough to falsify the claim, Firefox (Phoenix 0.1) had this feature nearly half a year prior to Safari on September 23, 2002.
- Inline Progress Indicator: While Apple states that “Safari was the first browser to move the progress indicator into the address field,” Opera first added this feature in Opera 5.10, released in 2001.
- Movable tabs: In Apple’s words, “Safari was the first browser to let you organize tabs by dragging and dropping. … Rearrange tabs by dragging their tab handle left or right. Drag a tab out of a window to create a new window. Or drag a tab from one window to another window to merge their tabs” (emphasis added). Opera 7 Beta 1, released on November 13, 2002, came with “Extended and vastly improved drag-and-drop support,” and this included the ability to “Move bookmarks, tabs, and MDI pages between SDI windows”. Furthermore, the same feature was already available as an extension in Firefox and was added as a feature to Firefox 1.5, released on November 29, 2005. Safari did not add movable tabs until Safari 3, which was released on June 11, 2007.
- Releaseyears of tabbed browsers: NetCaptor in 1998, later by IBrowse in 1999, Opera in 2000, Mozilla in 2001, Konqueror and Safari in 2003, Internet Explorer 7 in 2006 and Google Chrome in 2008.
- Releaseyears of movable tabs: NetCaptor 5.0 in 1998, IBrowse 2.3 at 29 Jan 2003, Opera 7 in 2003, Google Chrome 1 in 2008, Safari 4 in 2009.
- Open multiple bookmarks in one click – According to Apple, “[Safari] was the first browser to offer Auto-Click bookmarks.” This feature offers the ability “to open multiple pages in individual tabs with a single click.” Opera 4, released in 2000, could open all of the bookmarks inside of a folder through the right-click menu. Opera 6 added the feature to open all bookmarks in a folder with a single middle click and added “Open all folder items” to the drop-down menu on the personal bar.
- Third party cookie blocking: According to Apple, “Safari is the first browser that blocks … tracking cookies by default” (emphasis added). It is hard to verify or falsify this claim; nevertheless, it should be noted that this feature was already present in Opera 4.
Implemented Prior to Inclusion in Safari
- RSS Aggregator: While Apple claims that Safari is the first browser that integrated an RSS reader into the browser, Opera integrated an RSS reader into its browser in 2003, well before Apple in 2005.
Not Implemented Exclusively in Safari
- Acid 3 Compliance: Apple asserts, “Safari is the first — and only — web browser to pass Acid 3″ (emphasis added). It is arguable that WebKit was the first rendering engine to get 100/100 (it was close between Opera and WebKit). However, Safari is not the only WebKit browser. Lunascape is also capable of using the Webkit rendering engine, and thus also passes the Acid 3 test.
- Apple claims, “Safari  supports Accessible Rich Internet Applications,” yet it is only partially implemented.
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- ^ Toto, Serkan. “Lunascape Browser: Firefox, Internet Explorer And Chrome All-In-One”. http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/11/25/lunascape-browser-firefox-internet-explorer-and-chrome-all-in-one/. Retrieved on 2009-03-27.
- ^ Machell, Matt (2009-03-03). “Safari 4 – Quickfire ARIA Testing”. Eclectic Dreams. http://eclecticdreams.com/blog/safari-4-quickfire-aria-testing. Retrieved on 2009-03-06.