8 Jul. 2021
MG Siegler, on 500ish, In Defense of the New Safari:
I get the critiques. Largely boiling down to the notion that “design isn’t just how something looks, it’s how it works”. And I think it’s fair in a few aspects. But largely I read this critique (which itself is kicked off by linking to another critique, which itself is kicked off linking to more critiques still) as one that is just as much about not liking change at all as it is about the new changes.
Yes, it’s extremely jarring to use the new versions of Safari at first if you’ve used the previous versions. This is most pronounced on iOS because people are more likely to use Safari on iOS than on desktop and because even if they do use Safari on desktop, most people undoubtedly use Safari on iOS more than they do on desktop because of the time spent on our phones. Also the URL bar has been shifted from the top to the bottom of the screen. It’s not just a change, it’s the opposite of what it once was.
I agree with Siegler 100%. I like the new Safari, both on iOS and MacOS. And I get the critiques too.
Like I’ve said in my previous thoughts on the WWDC announcements, many times I’ve found myself swiping through recently opened apps when I really wanted to switch between tabs instead. So the new tab switching feature seems like a great new feature, because it feels natural. Same goes for the way you can swipe up to display all currently opened tabs.
I like the new position of the URL bar too: the bottom part of the screen is far more reachable, and I like the look of websites without the bar at the top of the window, in a “smartphone without a case” way. Not sure about the previous/next buttons (I’d prefer something like a Share button instead for instance), but I don’t mind having all the controls under one “…” button. And finally, finally, the “Reload without content blockers” command is under the same button on iOS and MacOS. Before, it was under the Refresh arrow on the Mac and not under the “Aa” button, like it was on iOS, which was extremely confusing.
Of course, it’s hard to know if you like something because it’s new and different, or because it’s actually good. Just like it’s hard to know if something is really bad if the complaints mostly come from a change of habits. It’s very difficult to tell the difference at first, and the new Safari would make a great case study on this question, according to the strong opinions I’ve read about it.
On the Mac, since I never was a big tab person (I like to keep a limited number of tabs opened, and keep things organised as much as I can, something I cannot say on my work Windows PC), I enjoy using the new tab interface. I get the complaints about the new tab management system though, and even for me, it will take some time to get used to. But so far, I like it very much.
My few complaints about the new Safari so far revolve mostly about some of the aesthetics mistakes or choices, like contrast issues or the way pinned tabs look, but I’m confident most of them with get fixed, improved, or changed by the time the final versions of the OSes are released.