Apple Releases Safari 3.1

Apple has released Safari 3.1, the latest version it’s cross-platform Web browser which also ships as the default browser for Mac OS X computers. Apple has always aimed for a sleek interface, broad standards compatibility, and fast performance with Safari, and the company claims version 3.1 improves on that history by being up to three times faster than Internet Explorer and Firefox in HTML rendering and JavaScript execution. Version 3.1 also becomes the first browser available that supports portions of the upcoming HTML 5 standard, including HTML offline storage (in a local SQLLite database) and audio and video media tags. Safari 3.1 also implements support for CSS Animations (yes, something else that can blink and twitch on your screen), downloadable CSS Web Fonts.

“Safari 3.1 for Mac and Windows is blazingly fast, easy to use and features an elegant user interface,” said Apple’s senior VP of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller, in a statement. “And best of all, Safari supports the latest audio, video, and animation standards for an industry-leading Web 2.0 experience.”

As more and more Web-based services and applications rely on so-called “Web 2.0” interface techniques and manage increasing amounts of information, speed of JavaScript execution has a very real impact on the perceived performance and ease of use of a Web site. Offline local storage, once widely implemented, will be very useful to Web-based applications (think of things like Google Docs or Flickr) that can benefit from being able to store data locally on a user’s system. Google Gears is an open source effort to provide similar functionality; it’s currently available for Firefox.

Safari 3.1 is a free download from Apple; it’s available for Mac OS X 10.4.11 or newer, as well as for Windows XP/Vista.