From Parker Ortolani at 9to5Mac:
Apple’s newest Safari design in iOS 15 has been controversial, to say the least. It’s a complete overhaul of one of the iPhone’s most popular apps that follows entirely different design philosophies. Countless folks, including myself, have tried to come up with ways to “fix” the new design and make it more familiar and comfortable to use. This is my latest try. What I wanted to do was to follow the same principles and aim for the same goal. A mobile browser that’s easy to use in one hand and one that makes switching between sites on the fly a breeze.
This is very nicely done. This approach accomplishes a lot of what Apple says they’re trying to do with the new Safari on iOS but handles it in a manner that allows users to actually have an discoverable, enhanced experience.
From Federico Viticci at MacStories:
Let me cut to the chase: I don’t think iOS and iPadOS 15 are massive updates like iOS and iPadOS 13 or 14 were. There are dozens of interesting new features in both updates, but none of them feels “obvious” to demonstrate to average users like, say, dark mode and iPad multiwindow in iOS and iPadOS 13 or Home Screen widgets in last year’s iOS 14. And, for the most part, I think that’s fine. The wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented every year, and the pandemic happened for everyone – Apple engineers included.
In many ways, iOS and iPadOS 15 remind me of iOS 10 and 12: they’re updates that build upon the foundation set by their predecessors, bringing welcome consumer additions that, while not earth-shattering, contribute to making iOS more mature, intelligent, and deeply integrated with Apple’s ecosystem.
As always, a great overview from Viticci. The thing that stuck out to me the most is his detailed breakdown of Safari on iOS and iPadOS. I’m still looking for a review that speaks in glowing terms about the UX tradeoffs made for these releases. As Federico says in the article:
So I have to ask: is it worth sacrificing everything else in the name of an address bar at the bottom?
I’ve been a Firefox user on the desktop for a while now, but have used Safari on iOS up to now. I’ve tried out Safari 15 on my Mac (you can download the Safari Technology Preview to check it our for yourself), and I can’t get into the changes on the nav bar. It’s a constant hunt to find the tabs you want because they’re always moving around and many of the things I use from the toolbar are now hidden behind an extra click. The past couple of years Apple has been on a quest to banish as much UI behind 3 dot menus, and it makes using their software more difficult to use. This seems to be in service of better aesthics over user experience. The idea of “elevating the content” is all well and good, but not if the rest of the UX suffers as a result. It doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition.
This release might push me to using a 3rd party browser on all of my devices. It looks that bad. I really hope they see the feedback and learn from it, becuase it’s overwhelmingly bad. I was really excited about the idea of true browser extensions on iOS/iPadOS but I’m not sure it’s worth the tradeoffs.
From Dieter Bohn at The Verge:
Something keeps coming up at the Epic v. Apple trial as a potential alternative for getting Fortnite on the iPhone: web apps. It’s an intriguing idea, as web apps are able to do surprisingly complex things: just look at a Chromebook or even game streaming services on the iPhone. But potential is far from reality, because the ability for web apps to look, feel, and perform as well as native apps on iOS is severely limited.
Another good breakdown of the issues Apple is trying to have both ways. They’re keeping a tight grip on their App Store and saying that Web Apps are a path forward if you don’t like it, but then they’re making it difficult for folks to actually ship web apps that are truly compelling. In the “best case” scenario for customers and developers, I think a ruling that includes forces Apple to change some of their rules to allow 3rd party browsers could change things greatly. Add to that some of the suggestions I made a while back, and I think a lot of this would go away. A “worst case” scenario is a confusing hellscape of competing app stores, browser ballots and even possibly no default apps on first load. Lets hope cooler heads prevail.
From The Infrequently Noted blog:
Apple’s iOS browser (Safari) and engine (WebKit) are uniquely under-powered. Consistent delays in the delivery of important features ensure the web can never be a credible alternative to its proprietary tools and App Store.
The author makes a lot of good points about where Webkit lags behind other browsers, and what its strengths are. The main thrust of the argument is that Apple won’t let other browsers onto iOS without being a branded interface wrapping around WebKit and that is harmful to users and the overall Open Web as there is no choice. Further, it puts a dent into Apple’s argument that people can always make a web app if they don’t want to participate in the App Store because the tech isn’t there to fully replace what many native apps do today.
Any time a tech company like Apple is insulated from competition, consumers suffer. iOS needs to open up their app store to alternative browsers as it will force Apple to compete more than they do right now. To their credit, they’ve done the bare minimum recently and allowed a non-Safari browser to be set as default, but they need to go the additional step and allow browsers to use their own engines. Not only would this be a win for the open web, but it would also increase competition and likely force Apple to invest more in their browser engine. There’s a lot they can differentiate on, but I don’t want it to be at the expense of web technologies advancing. I also want WebKit to be the best rendering engine out there because they focus on performance and security over chasing every single API, as that’s an area they can really hang their hat on. I personally feel like Safari on both the Mac and iOS has gotten worse in the past few years from a UX perspective (I’ll save that for another post) but better from a performance perspective. However, it would appear that WebKit as a standards-supporting platform has gotten worse. I hope they can find a good balance between the two.
This assessment can be true and it can also be true that the author is looking at the situation through Google-colored glasses. Google wants to push the web as much as possible because the web is more likely to have ads than an app would, so a more robust, “app-like” web means more opportunities for them to track and target you.
From Michael Grothaus at Fast Company:
“We think we’re showing the way to the industry, to the customer, that they can demand more–they should expect more–about the protection of their privacy, and that we can help move the industry into building things that better protect privacy.”
“I think the protections that we’re building in, to intimately say that the customer’s device is in service of the customer, not of another company or entity–the customer is the one who is in control of their data and their device–is what’s most compatible with human rights and the interest of society,” Federighi says. “And so that’s what we’re going to keep trying to support–our customers being in control of their privacy.”
Glad this is getting more mainstream attention. The biggest features mentioned in this article are:
- Approximate location, sharing which quadrant of a worldwide grid you’re in, not your exact location. This is something that’s gotten more attention lately, and I’m really pleased they’re doing this.
- Cross-tracking prevention. Advertisers and data brokers have used these techniques to build a profile on all of us over the years.
- Categorized data that’s being tracked, broken up by “type” (up to 31 types!) in the App Store.
- Better password security notifications
- Enhanced tracker blocking in Safari
- Enhanced Safari extension support and security controls around permissions
- Camera and mic notifications to let users know when either are active
- Photo selection security
I believe that Apple’s stance on this has moved Google and Facebook in a better direction when it comes to security and privacy. Regardless of your opinion on their products, you should be thankful they’re pushing so hard on this.
I use Safari as my primary browser for privacy, cross platform sync and performance reasons. It’s got it’s problems like any browser but overall I love how simple and fast it is. But man, Apple makes it a pain for us sometimes. A few years ago, Apple made the move to deploying Safari extensions as […]
Continue reading →
From Tom Dotan, The Information:
“Apple users are more valuable [to advertisers] based on demographics, being higher income, et cetera,” said Jason Kint, CEO of industry trade group Digital Content Next. He argues that Safari users have been “wrongly devalued” in the short term and says marketers just need to find better ways to reach them online. As an example, Kint points to ads that relate to the articles someone is reading—contextual advertising—as a format that doesn’t run afoul of privacy issues. He says the format is growing and credits Apple’s clampdown for one reason.
Amen. Targeted advertising, for me, has never really provided any amazing value over your more standard ad placement. As much as I love seeing ads on every page I visit for the thing I already bought on Amazon, I’d prefer to see ads the publishers stand by on some level.
Apple Inc. is considering giving rival apps more prominence on iPhones and iPads and opening its HomePod speaker to third-party music services after criticism the company provides an unfair advantage to its in-house products.
The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. Since launching the App Store in 2008, Apple hasn’t allowed users to replace pre-installed apps such as these with third-party services. That has made it difficult for some developers to compete, and has raised concerns from lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.
That would be fantastic news! If Apple can find a way to make a cheaper version of the HomePod that can compete more with the lower-end speakers on the market and also allow them to independently play from a music service other than Apple Music, you’d see sales take off. We’re not going to see HomePod become a market leader by any stretch, but a lot of Apple users who are on the fence between a Sonos One and a HomePod might choose differently than they do today.
Doesn’t fix the fact that Siri on the HomePod is no match for the Assistant/Alexa setup on the Sonos One, but some folks are okay with that.
As far as iOS defaults go, I think that’s a great start. Allow users to choose defaults for a few things like mail, web, mapping, messaging and music would be a huge win for users. Still a rumor at this point.
Power consumption of the worlds most popular websites calculated on different browsers:
TL;DR; If you’re a MacBook user, you’re losing an average of 1 hour of total battery life by using Chrome. Firefox is a little better, but Safari is the clear winner. You’ll want to use Safari if you want to get the most battery out of your laptop.
Can’t say I disagree with the findings. I use Chrome as my main browser most of the time but it is a resource hog compared to Safari, who has quietly pushed out some great updates over the past year (with more coming this fall).
If you haven’t been keeping up with this small-scale drama, Nolan Lawson wrote an article about a week ago about how Safari is falling behind other browser vendors. This led to a pretty large outcry from the Apple faithful (which, honestly, I typically consider myself part of) and finally a slight backtrack from the author. […]
Continue reading →