Safari gets its biggest update ever thanks to macOS Big Sur

Apple WWDC 2020
(Image credit: Apple)

Safari is getting its biggest update ever when macOS Big Sur arrives.

WWDC 2020 — Apple's yearly developer get-together — kicked off today with a powerful keynote speech by CEO Tim Cook, and we've got some fascinating info on Safari. The core of Safari's transformation this year is focused on pioneering privacy protections, which will be a relief for security-minded Apple fans who have concerns about infiltrators encroaching on their personal data.

Safari vs. Chrome: Apple's browser is the fastest

Chrome is the dominant internet crawler for users around the world — 64% use the Google browser. Apple's browser, Safari, on the other hand, only captured 18% of the browser market share, according to StatsCounter.

In Apple's determination to dethrone Chrome and push Safari to browser greatness, the Cupertino-based giant reminded WWDC viewers that it has the world's fastest desktop browser. 

"This year, Safari's performance-running JavaScript is better than ever and continues to significantly outpace all other major browsers," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, said.

Safari is 50% faster than Chrome

Apple's visual presentation of Safari being 50% faster than Google Chrome. (Image credit: Apple)

Federighi added that Safari's page loading has gotten a boost, too. With the new update, the Apple SVP claimed that Safari is now 50% faster than Google Chrome while still maintaining its reputation as being a power-efficient browser.

Updates to Safari security protections

Safari was the first browser to introduce private browsing, cookie blocking, and most recently, intelligent tracking prevention. With this year's huge Safari update, users will have access to top-notch transparency when it comes to gaining insight on how their information is used by Apple and other third-party applications.

New privacy report button

Safari users can now click on a privacy report button, located on the toolbar, when they visit a website to get more information on how their information is being used and how well their privacy is protected.

The WWDC presentation of the new Safari privacy report displayed a small window that detailed the type of trackers that a website uses to trail its visitors.

Apple Safari privacy report

Apple presents how users can use the privacy report button on Safari. (Image credit: Apple)

Safari monitors your saved passwords

Safari keeps an eye on your saved passwords on websites to make sure that they haven't been compromised in a data breach.

Tightening security with browser extensions

Apple noted that, on other browsers, Chrome extensions can infringe on users' privacy by accessing every page you visit, observing every tab you open and even tracking everything you type.

"In Safari, you choose which sites each extension can work with," Federighi said. Safari users can also limit when the extension is active. For example, a user can tick an option that tells Safari that an extension only has permission to be active just for the day.

Apple privacy

You can choose when your Safari extension can be active. (Image credit: Apple)

If the small window isn't providing enough details for you, you can also navigate to the full privacy protection report, too.

Safari privacy report

Full privacy protection report on Safari (Image credit: Apple)

New features for Safari extensions

You'll likely see more of your familiar, favorite extensions from other browsers appear on Safari now that Apple has made it easier for developers to migrate Chrome-built extensions over.

Apple also inserted a new category into the Mac App Store to better showcase Safari's extensions so that users can easily find them.

Safari's new design

Safari is not only tightening its security measures, but it's also getting an attractive new makeover, too.

New customizable start page

Beth Dekin, an Apple software engineer, showcased Safari's new customizable feature by swapping the default background on the start page with a picture of her adorable son.

Customizable start page on Safari

Customizable start page on Safari (Image credit: Apple)

You can also choose from a gallery of curated wallpapers if you don't want to put any personal images on the background of your Safari start page.

New preview feature for Safari tabs

Power users often have multiple tabs open while they're working, and when you have several tabs opened from the same website, it can be difficult to discern which tab is which. 

Thanks to Safari's new preview feature, you can get a quick snapshot of
a tab by simply hovering your mouse over it -- this will help remind users about the content that is within that tab.

Safari preview tabs feature

You can now preview tabs on Safari. (Image credit: Apple)

Safari has a new built-in translation feature

Dekin also demonstrated that Safari can now detect when a user is visiting a website that is not the user's primary language. 

Safari built-in translation feature

(Image credit: Apple)

A translation icon will appear in the URL bar and, as an example, a user can choose to select English as their desired language if they've landed on a Spanish-language website.

Overall, Safari's new update on macOS Big Sur will bring users more personalization options, better control over one's data and convenient browser improvements.

We're not convinced if these features will cause users to migrate from Chrome to Safari, but Safari loyalists will definitely appreciate these useful upgrades, especially security-minded users.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!