Apple Announces Safari Technology Preview, a Browser Aimed at Developers

Fresh off a somewhat perplexing rollout of iOS 9.3 that included problems with Safari shutting down or stalling, Apple has announced a new version of Safari. The new browser is called Safari Technology Preview and it lets developers get an early preview at new technologies in iOS and OS X, which includes things such as visual effects, layout technologies and more developer tools.

The purpose of the new browser is to let developers get their hands on the technologies as early as possible so they can experiment, create and offer feedback to Apple. The idea is that early feedback will help the company make adjustments.

Apple already offers Nightly builds of WebKit, which is the open source browser engine that runs on hundreds of millions of devices and powers Apple’s Safari. Getting access to builds is not quite as efficient as as it will be with the Safari Technology Preview browser. The new browser distributes updates every two weeks from the App Store’s Store’s software update mechanism. Developers can then run a browser that is pre-loaded with the latest and greatest web technologies, including HTML, JavaScript, CSS and WebKit.

Developers are anxious to get access to the newest versions of Web Inspector and Responsive Design Mode. Design Mode lets developers create websites which can work across devices, from mobile to desktop, for example.

The Safari Preview browser also gives other advantages, since it is signed and validated by Apple. It works with iCloud. Many web developers have complained about the lack of iCloud support on Nightly, since many waned to use a Nightly build as their browser. This newer option gives them the ability to keep their bookmarks and Reading List as well as accessing tabs opened on other devices.

Safari Technology Preview is a standalone application. That means it will run side-by-side with the standard version of Safari, which will of course make it simple to switch between the two builds. The debut version, which is out today, includes several brand new features, like:

  • ECMAScript 6: According to Apple, this is one of the most complete implementations of ECMAScript 6 (ES6), which is the latest version of JavaScript.
  • B3 JIT JavaScript Compiler: The B3 is a new low-latency, compiler that was build only for JavaScript. It optimizes to give fast initial compile times while still efficiently optimizing the compiled JavaScript.
  • Shadow DOM: Shadow DOM helps make it easy to build larger web apps by letting developers expose elements on a webpage, then defining exactly how they interact with the application. WebKit becomes the first browser engine to use the latest version.

You don’t need to be a developer to try Safari Technology Preview. You don’t even need to have a registered Apple Developer account to download the browser. Some consumers may enjoy the version of the browser since it incorporates the best new technologies providing you with a faster and smoother experience.

It is available here

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    While this has probably obviously been in the works for a long time it’s still a messy thing to be rolling out while iOS 9.3 has some major problems.

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