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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why Safari For Windows

Wired's Cult Of Mac asks who would really want Safari on Windows since the OS X version, as they say, "sucks".

The answer is simple: Apple does. They want it for the same reason they put iTunes on the platform - to increase the size of a demographic with better access to a consumer device. Can you imagine the iPod's success without iTunes for Windows? Safari for Windows may certainly not be nearly as instrumental, but since it will be your testbed for writing iPhone widgets - why wouldn't Apple put it out there? They don't care about getting a few more browsers hits here and there, they want access to the deep pocket of Windows based web developers.

Granted Safari's beta crashes at the sight of a proxy and may snap a few widgets - but the rational seems clear.

I just wonder if they'll port Dashboard. Imagine being able to write a Web 2.0 widget for Windows, Mac and iPhone.


Thomas said...

Yeah, but Windows doesn't need another browser. We have too many as is--not in the competitive sense, but in the "renders the same page in eleven crazy ways" sense, which both IE and Mozilla (although more IE) have fostered. We definitely don't need a browser that ignores all of the Windows UI cues in addition to a new rendering engine.

I think it's a legitimate concern that web developers don't need to buy a Mac now to test their pages in Safari--assuming they did in the first place. Everyone I know with a Mac is running Firefox.

And I know you're not making this argument, but it's kind of a shitty move to say "You don't need an actual SDK for our miracle phone--just use some Javascript! Here's a free web browser!"

Josh said...

No, no, I'm definately not tossing aside a real SDK in lieu of a viable AJAX testbed.

And trust me - my job gets far more complicated everytime a new browser lands on the pile. I'm not even sure how we'll manage to get this properly added into our test suite at the time for normal web pages. Course, I don't expect a flood of Safari 3.0 of either platform anytime soon, so it's not a huge problem.

However, having developed Dashboard widgets in Safari - I actually prefer the setup compared to the more constrained XHTML setup of Google Widgets, Yahoo Widgets and I'm assuming Vista Widgets.

Granted, part of me thinks the whole thing is dumb since - wasn't the idea of the net to be ubiqitous?

But still - coding a widget for Dashboard, and I'm assuming the iPhone, is almost identical for doing it for normal web pages with really minimal custom objects. Google, as much as I love their stuff, has a whole API you have to talk with to get anything done. Yahoo Widgets a whole framework, etc.

So if Apple makes iPhone widget creation easier by allowing Safari on Windows - huzzah. I can't get too excited by it until the iPhone comes out, of course, but if I wanted to push iPhone apps here at work (highly possible, in fact) - Apple just made my life a lot easier.

Thomas said...

Are you sure they're going to allow widgets?

It looked to me like they're just saying that regular webapps can access a few iPhone features through Javascript inside Safari, not actually install as offline scripts.

The latter isn't optimal, but it's still better than the former.

If this just means that the browser can also dial phone numbers from web code, it actually makes me a little nervous. That functionality is exposed to native applications on Windows Mobile, but not to online scripts, because of the security risk.

It seems like a shame to have that much power on the local client, and not really being able to use it.

Josh said...

It's hard to tell until they release it, but my understanding is that it is a similar setup like Dashboard. Dashboard is essentially a bizarre, native version of Safari. You can write widgets for Dashboard and test them with 100% functionality in Safari - mostly the native components with Dashboard deal with UI elements and the like.

I would guess they would keep the API to a minimum with phone functionality, although dialing would make some sense - but these functions would only work (I would think) from iPhone's custom Safari, not any normal browser.