Although Steve Jobs didn’t highlight the update on stage at yesterday’s WWDC, Apple has more or less quietly updated Safari to version 5, confirming the details of yesterday’s leak.
There’s a lot of new functionality in the change log, but the most evident new functionality is Safari Reader. Yesterday, I speculated this would be a remedial newsreader, but it’s actually not that at all: instead, it’s basically a built-in version of Arc90’s Readability bookmarklet that strips a web page down to just newspaper-style text on a blank white page, retaining only simple text formatting and in-line images.
What’s particularly awesome about Reader is that on multi-page articles, it’ll automatically appends pages together so you can read the whole article in one sitting, no navigational clicks required. Just click the “Reader” button at the left of the address field to go into Reader mode (it only works on articles of a certain length).
For a guy who does as much reading as I do online every day, Reader is some fantastic new functionality. It’s too bad the rest of Safari 5’s update doesn’t go further in adding new features to a browser I’ve mostly abandoned in favor of Chrome. On the positive side, though, the update finally adds Chrome-like extensions support to Safari! Depending on how long the extension developer community takes to deliver some functionality in Safari I’ve now begun to take for granted with Chrome, I could find myself switching very, very soon.
To download Safari 5, use Software Update or grab it here