In iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Safari gets solid improvements that will win you back from Chrome — especially if you value your privacy. But while safeguarding your security on the web fuels many of Safari’s great new features, there’s much more goodness to anticipate on iPhone, iPad and Mac.
Let’s take a look at the Mac and iOS versions of the Apple web browser.
Safari updates mean privacy, privacy, privacy
In iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Safari further protects your privacy. First is something called Enhanced Tracking Prevention. Every computer — including yours — gives all kinds of information to every website you visit. It tells the site which browser you’re using, for example, so that it can serve the right page (eg. mobile versus desktop). But it also includes information about the fonts installed on your computer, the browser plugins you’re using, your screen resolution, your system language and so on. Taken together, this almost-unique mix makes a fingerprint that companies use to track you across the web.
Until now, you could do nothing to stop this, other than using a privacy tool like Tor. But in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, the browser serves up simplified versions of these snippets of information, rendering fingerprinting all but useless as a tool to track you.
Further, Safari will also strip the tracking code out of Twitter, Facebook and certain widgets (like blog comments sections) that load into web pages. Third-party tools already can do this, but building in the functionality — and switching it on by default — will protect everyone with a Mac, iPhone or iPad.
Safari is faster in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave
One of iOS 12’s big features is speed. “Things you do all the time, like launching Camera and typing with the keyboard, happen faster than ever,” says Apple. Even in the very first beta of iOS 12, this proved true. The whole thing feels snappier, Safari included.
Safari gets tab favicons
In both iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Safari will finally display tab favicons. Who cares? Well, being able to identify the site you want from a whole mess of tabs is a lot easier if you can spot that site’s colorful logo as an icon, instead of having to read a few letters of truncated text when trying to identify it. Other browsers have long enabled tab favicons, but now Apple has eliminated maybe the final reason anyone has to use Google Chrome.
Improved Reader View
This one wasn’t mentioned by Apple yet, but Safari’s Reader View gets a cleanup. There are no new options. However, regular users will notice that Reader View is now far better at taking a web page and cleaning it up. For those who don’t use it, Reader View strips everything from web pages apart from images and text, then formats them so they look like a beautiful magazine.
In iOS 12 and Mojave, Reader View becomes even better at fixing up web pages. Image captions, tables and other tricky elements are better preserved. On iPhones and iPads, switching to it is pretty much instantaneous now, thanks to iOS 12’s speed improvements. Check it out.
Security Code AutoFill
This improvement also applies to other apps, but Safari is the place you usually log in to services and sites, so the new Security Code AutoFill will have its biggest impact here. You know when you log into, say, Twitter, and it sends you a code via SMS that you have to copy and paste into the browser? Now, in iOS 12, these messages will be recognized when they are received, and the code will be copied, and added to the AutoFill suggestions that appear above the keyboard.
Just tap to insert. No app switching, no copying and pasting. It’s a tiny addition that will make a big everyday difference.
macOS Mojave Dark Mode
The new Dark Mode in macOS Mojave probably got a bigger round of applause than anything else mentioned at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2018 keynote — probably because the place was packed with nerds who sit in front of their Macs all day long. Dark Mode doesn’t just change the menubar and a few UI elements, either. It’s a proper system-wide interface switch.
In general, everything that is currently white or pale gray on your Mac will turn black or dark gray. Window edges, toolbars, lists, menus and backgrounds all change. Apple updated all its own apps to look great in Dark Mode. And third-party apps must do the same to be compatible.
Editor’s note: This post was previously published on June 13, 2018, during iOS 12 beta testing. It has been updated for the public macOS Mojave release.