Is Safari the new Internet Explorer?

14th April 2016 / 5 minute read

Is safari the new internet explorer

With the rise of the iPhone, iPad and the ever growing popular evolutions of the Mac, Apple have soared through the ranks of the electronic hardware manufacturers and placed their unmistakeable brushed steel logo into the pockets, homes and offices of millions worldwide. Their eye for design and unmatched brand power has driven them forwards with unstoppable force allowing them to shape the future of product and UX design, the way we use technology and how we interact with interfaces. However, in an age where the Internet is even considered a human right and a seamless part of daily life for most, the browser should be a primary concern for anyone looking to offer that ability.

Safari browser

So how has Apple left Safari behind?

While Apple’s hardware has surged ahead, with iPhone sales alone rising from over 11 million sold in 2008 to over 231 million in 2015, their proprietary browser’s progress has been left with much to desire in comparison.

It seems Apple could be repeating the very same mistakes Microsoft made; neglect. Internet Explorer’s unexpected quirks and painful workarounds stifled innovation at every corner of the web development process. From IE6 and its inability to display transparent PNG files to the slow adoption of CSS3, and with their response to a lack of standards taking the form of the dreaded “compatibility mode” that caused more problems than it solved, Internet Explorer held a reputation of trailing far behind other browsers for years.

Safari seems to have stumbled into a familiar pit as Apple, preoccupied and content with their popularity, leave users with a neglected piece of software.

Internet Explorer’s initial decline in quality came from a complacent attitude due to the popularity of the browser. Coming pre-installed on Windows machines, many users unaware of other options would use the broken browser blissfully unaware of the issues under the hood and sub-par quality. Microsoft didn’t feel the need to pay attention to browser technologies with this upper-hand, leading to a demand in websites needing to support the numbers of IE visitors and feeding a cycle that harmed the progress of web technologies.

When Microsoft saw the rapid migration of users to Firefox and Chrome, they took action. Transgressions and negligence were corrected with the buggy but albeit positive start that came with IE9, a bold step towards standards with IE10, and their impressive technological reincarnation that IE11 brought. They’ve taken the sluggish Javascript engines, ignorance towards emerging CSS innovations and security flaws and turned around a surprisingly reasonable browser (even with the occasional stray issue).

Current statistics from show a trailing support for HTML, CSS and Javascript with total feature support lagging a little behind Microsoft’s new Edge browser that ships with the new Windows 10 operating system.

articles web browsers support


What does this hold for the future?

We have our share of obstacles to overcome when it comes to browser compatibility at Equals Creative, and within the last month have only reported one CSS issue in Internet Explorer 10 and 11 compared to the three unexpected CSS and Javascript issues arising with Safari browsers across iPhones, iPads and Macs. Needless to say, these were patched quickly and disruption was minimal.

It seems that, whilst progress is slow, Apple have being paying attention to bug reports with some being fixed within several months and others spanning years of bug reports over the same issues.

We can only hope that their stance on innovation and quality is brought back to the heart of Safari. With growing popularity of Google’s iOS version of Chrome, a healthy dose of competition on the mobile scene may bring back what was learned from the rapid decline of Internet Explorer and the trend of contented ignorance is caught early before it becomes the new enemy of web progress.

We’d love to hear about what you think of the Safari browser in 2016. What problems have you had? Let us know in the comments or contact us!

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