Sneak peek at Safari's future features: Apple unveils tech preview


Safari Technology Preview lets devs test upcoming HTML, JavaScript, and CSS features — and report bugs.

Image: Apple

Apple has launched the Safari Technology Preview to give developers an early look at web technologies in the pipeline for iOS and OS X.

Although the preview version of Safari is only for OS X, Apple says it will showcase web layout, visual effects, and developer tools for its desktop and mobile operating systems. It will also include the latest version of Safari’s rendering engine, WebKit.

Safari Technology Preview is a halfway point between WebKit nightly builds and the stable version of Safari. It will let developers test upcoming HTML, JavaScript, and CSS features in Safari as well as report any bugs to Apple or to the WebKit project.

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Unlike the nightly WebKit build, the new preview is integrated with iCloud, enabling browsing history and bookmarks to be synced if the feature is enabled.

“For most people, we think Safari Technology Preview is a more convenient and stable way to live on recent WebKit changes,” said Ricky Mondello, an Apple Safari developer.

“And we’ll use the time between Safari Technology Preview releases to curate and test updates to a point where we think developers will find it practical to use as their primary browser.”

According to Apple, once the Safari Technology Preview is installed from Apple’s Developer website, Apple will continue updating the version twice a month through the Mac App Store. Developers don’t need to register to obtain the preview in the first place.

They will be able to run the Safari preview alongside the stable version, to compare the two. But the preview can also be run as the default browser. The preview browser’s icon is purple rather than stable Safari’s blue. Also, the preview is only available for OS X El Capitan.

Some of the new features available in the preview include support for the latest JavaScript, ECMAScript 6, and B3, a new compiler for JavaScript. The version of WebKit in the preview also includes the latest version of Shadow DOM.

Mondello also notes that a copy-and-cut feature in the preview “may eliminate some websites’ last need for the Flash plugin”, Adobe’s security disaster-prone browser plugin that won’t go away.

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