Why Safari is a great browser

I’ve used Safari as the default (and only) browser for many months now. I don’t exactly remember how many, but more than 8 I think.

I can now write a reasonably good review of it.

The summary is: Safari is a great browser.

And if you use an iPhone and perhaps an iPad or an Apple Watch, in other words if you’ve invested in the Apple ecosystem of devices, then I’d go as far as saying Safari is the best browser out there.

In this post I want to tell you why I think it’s great.

I don’t want to convince you of that.

That’s just my opinion.

  1. Sign in with Apple is just awesome. Introduced in 2019, this is one of the features I love the most in my Apple devices. Many apps and websites want you to create an account. It’s a tedious process: enter your email, generate a password, store the password / email combo in your password manager, confirm the email, login. With Sign In with Apple, it’s all solved. Just click a button, you’re done. And you have the priceless option of having a disposable email address that’s unique for each app you login to, so you can later remove that email address and be forgotten by that website / app so they can’t send you annoying emails. And to login with another device, just click Sign In with Apple again to access your account, instead of searching your sign in details.
  2. Apple Pay is equally awesome. Instead of filling a checkout form and adding your credit card details any time you want to purchase something, just click Pay with Apple Pay and you’re set. On any device. More and more services are adding this payment method.
  3. Reading List. Have you ever started reading something on your phone, and then you need a way to store it for later? Do you add a bookmark? Add it to Notes or Notion? Just tap Add to Reading List, and access later on all your devices.
  4. Shared history and opening tabs you have open on other devices. Many times I start reading something on the Mac, then when I’m on the go I just open it on the iPhone. All without using other sync tools like Reading List.
  5. Performance and power efficiency. All the browser are increasingly more and more power inefficient. Often times they are the main thing we use on our machines. Chrome just eats too much memory. Between the browser and Electron apps, it’s really wasting lots of resources on our Macs. Firefox is not an option for me, any time I tried it, after a while I get it to consume 100% CPU. No idea why, it’s been like that for years and I’ve gave up. Safari is power efficient. Friend of your battery.
  6. Privacy. Safari is made with users in mind. Because the company that makes it profits from selling you the computers and the cloud services, not from you using the browser. All the other browser makers don’t. They need to make money off the browser. Firefox with its deals with Google to have Google as the default search engine. Google with, of course, having Google as the default search engine, and driving you to the Google brand and all the services. (Google also pays Apple to be the default search engine, but it’s not their main revenue stream). Chrome is made by the largest advertising company in the world, and they’ll go great lengths to make sure their ad revenue stays as high as possible. Take a read here. Safari on the other hand protects your privacy, they have no interest in milking you for ad revenue. The recent ad-mageddon shows that.
  7. Reader mode. Nice way to read pages without ads and other distractions, or in dark mode when they don’t support it.
  8. Clean and minimalist design. The right buttons in the right place, then the interface disappears and what’s important, the website, is the things that’s in front of you.

And browsing is great. There’s no difference on 99% of the websites. Perhaps sometimes you find a website that uses something that Safari does not implement. That is a result of browser monoculture. The Firefox decline over time means Chrome is now sometimes the only browser people test.

But in 99% of the cases there’s no issue, unless you use features that just Chrome implements. Which is not good practice, unless you want to use those features specifically.

And Safari will not be the first to implement new CSS or JavaScript features, but that’s not an issue. You shouldn’t rely on new features right away anyway, not without using polyfills. Unless you want to serve a weird website to people that don’t have the latest browser version.

Ok, those are all user features. But how’s Safari as a development browser?

I use it, all the time.

You might be used to Chrome Dev Tools, or Firefox Dev Tools, and the Safari ones are a bit different. I’d call them more minimalistic.

Unless you do fancy stuff, in frontend development 90% of the time you’ll look at CSS properties, the network panel, use the inspector, use the console. And this is more or less the same across all browsers.

Sometimes I do open other browsers just for the dev tools. Yes, sometimes you need a better solution for specific things, like CSS grid debugging.

But it’s just maybe once a week or so.

The rest of the time it’s just Safari.

Check out my Web Development Bootcamp. Next cohort is in April 2022, join the waiting list!