WWDC: Safari gets energy-efficient update in Mavericks

When OS X Mavericks arrives later this year, a new version of Safari will come along for the ride. Apple’s latest Web browser boasts smoother scrolling, a new Top Sites implementation, and several under-the-hood improvements. 

These changes help deliver the improvement that Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi stressed the most during Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote – how energy efficient Safari will be in its latest iteration. OS X Mavericks introduces a new power-saving feature called App Nap, which decides where your Mac should direct its power supply. When Safari isn’t your primary program, App Nap will essentially put it to sleep, greatly reducing your Mac’s power usage.

To demonstrate how this works, Federighi showed off an energy-intensive web page with lots of animation alongside a CPU-usage graph. When Safari was the in use, the graph’s power-usage shot up. But when Federighi switched over to iTunes, the power went way down. This feature will be especially helpful in preserving the battery life of MacBooks with Retina display, according to Federighi.

Compared to current versions of Chrome and Firefox, Apple contends Safari is lightning fast. SunSpider’s metrics clock Safari’s speeds as 1.44 times faster than Chrome; JSBench logs Safari at 3.8x against Chrome’s 1.5x (and according to Federighi, looking at Firefox’s numbers is “just sad” by comparison).

Reading material
You’ll also notice an updated Reading List and Bookmarks sidebar. Your Reading List still lives as a column on the left-hand sidebar of your browser window, and you can add stories, articles, or webpages to your reading list with a click of a button. But now, you can continuously scroll between articles without having to click. When you finish a page, keep scrolling to move on to the next page in your queue. Reader gets a bit of a makeover as well, with a cleaner look that really shows off the page’s content. Reader also supports this new scroll-through feature for continuous reading.

The Reading List/Bookmarks sidebar has a new tab – Shared Links, which integrates with your Twitter and LinkedIn feeds. Shared Links keeps tabs on all of the links shared by the people you follow. You can navigate these pages just as you would your Reading List. You can retweet them right from the sidebar, or one-click save them to Bookmarks.

Top Sites also looks a little different – the flashy, rounded box view has been replaced with a cleaner, flat thumbnail view similar to Chrome’s startup page.

Scrolling and security
On top of that, users will notice an extremely fluid and fast smooth scrolling through pages, thanks to Core Animation optimisations system wide. Under-the-hood improvements include better process per tab architecture and background tab optimisation, among others.

For password protection, Safari will support Mavericks’ iCloud Keychain feature, Apple’s new solution to multiple password storage. iCloud Keychain will remember website logins, credit card information (but not your security code), and Wi-Fi logins. Safari will remember your password for you, or auto-suggest a new password, and then sync it to your unique Keychain. iCloud Keychain syncs all of this information across all your systems, encrypted and securely.

The updated Safari will ride the wave of OS X Mavericks, when the latest OS update debutes this fall.

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