Safari 9 running on OS X El Capitan
|Initial release||January 7, 2003|
|Written in||C++, Objective-C and Swift|
Windows (discontinued, last version: 5.1.7 on May 9, 2012)
|License||Freeware; some components GNU LGPL|
Safari is a web browser developed by Apple based on the WebKit engine. First released in 2003 with Mac OS X Panther, a mobile version has been included in iOS devices since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. It is the default browser on Apple devices. A Windows version, now discontinued, was available from 2007 to 2012.
Until 1997, Apple Macintosh computers were shipped with the Netscape Navigator and Cyberdog web browsers only. Internet Explorer for Mac was later included as the default web browser for Mac OS 8.1 and onwards, as part of a five-year agreement between Apple and Microsoft. During that time, Microsoft released three major versions of Internet Explorer for Mac that were bundled with Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9, though Apple continued to include Netscape Navigator as an alternative. Microsoft ultimately released a Mac OS X edition of Internet Explorer for Mac, which was included as the default browser in all Mac OS X releases from Mac OS X DP4 up to and including Mac OS X v10.2.
On January 7, 2003, at Macworld San Francisco, Steve Jobs announced that Apple had developed their own web browser, called Safari. It was based on Apple's internal fork of the KHTML rendering engine, called WebKit. Apple released the first beta version for OS X that day. A number of official and unofficial beta versions followed, until version 1.0 was released on June 23, 2003. Initially only available as a separate download for Mac OS X v10.2, it was included with the Mac OS X v10.3 release on October 24, 2003 as the default browser, with Internet Explorer for Mac included only as an alternative browser. 1.0.3, released on August 13, 2004 was the last version to support Mac OS X v10.2, while 1.3.2, released on January 12, 2006 was the last version to support Mac OS X v10.3. However, 10.3 received security updates through 2007.
In April 2005, Dave Hyatt, one of the Safari developers at Apple, documented his study by fixing specific bugs in Safari, thereby enabling it to pass the Acid2 test developed by the Web Standards Project. On April 27, 2005, he announced that his development version of Safari now passed the test, making it the first web browser to do so.
Safari 2.0 was released on April 29, 2005, as the only web browser included with Mac OS X v10.4. This version was touted by Apple as possessing a 1.8x speed boost over version 1.2.4, but did not yet include the Acid2 bug fixes. The necessary changes were initially unavailable to end-users unless they downloaded and compiled the WebKit source code themselves or ran one of the nightly automated builds available at OpenDarwin.org. Apple eventually released version 2.0.2 of Safari, which included the modifications required to pass Acid2, on October 31, 2005.
The final stable version of Safari 2, Safari 2.0.4, was released on January 10, 2006 for Mac OS X. It was only available as part of Mac OS X Update 10.4.4. This version addresses layout and CPU usage issues, among others. Safari 2.0.4 was the last version to be released exclusively on Mac OS X until version 6 in 2012.
On June 11, 2007, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs announced Safari 3 for Mac OS X v10.5, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. During the announcement, he ran a benchmark based on the iBench browser test suite comparing the most popular Windows browsers, hence claiming that Safari was the fastest browser. Later third-party tests of HTTP load times would support Apple's claim that Safari 3 was indeed the fastest browser on the Windows platform in terms of initial data loading over the Internet, though it was found to be only negligibly faster than Internet Explorer 7 and Mozilla Firefox when loading static content from local cache.
The initial Safari 3 beta version for Windows, released on the same day as its announcement at WWDC 2007, had several known bugs and a zero day exploit that allowed remote execution. The addressed bugs were then corrected by Apple three days later on June 14, 2007, in version 3.0.1 for Windows. On June 22, 2007, Apple released Safari 3.0.2 to address some bugs, performance issues and other security issues. Safari 3.0.2 for Windows handles some fonts that are missing in the browser but already installed on Windows computers, such as Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, and others.
The iPhone was formally released on June 29, 2007. It includes a version of Safari based on the same WebKit rendering engine as the desktop version, but with a modified feature set better suited for a mobile device. The version number of Safari as reported in its user agent string is 3.0, in line with the contemporary desktop versions of Safari.
The first stable, non-beta release of Safari for Windows, Safari 3.1, was offered as a free download on March 18, 2008. In June 2008, Apple released version 3.1.2, addressing a security vulnerability in the Windows version where visiting a malicious web site could force a download of executable files and execute them on the user's desktop.
Safari 3.2, released on November 13, 2008, introduced anti-phishing features using Google Safe Browsing and Extended Validation Certificate support. The final version of Safari 3 is 3.2.3, released on May 12, 2009.
Safari was one of the twelve browsers offered to EU users of Microsoft Windows in 2010. It was one of the five browsers displayed on the first page of browser choices along with Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera.
Beginning with Safari 4, the address bar has been completely revamped:
Safari on Mac OS X and Windows was made to look more similar to Safari on iPhone than previous versions.
Safari 4 also includes the following new features:
Apple also released Safari 4.1 concurrently with Safari 5, exclusively for Mac OS X Tiger. The update included the majority of the features and security enhancements found in Safari 5. It did not, however, include Safari Reader or Safari Extensions. Together with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple released Safari 5.1 for both Windows and Mac on July 20, 2011, with the new function 'Reading List' and a faster browsing experience. Apple simultaneously released Safari 5.0.6 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, excluding Leopard users from the new functions in Safari 5.1.
Safari 5.1.7 has become the last version of Safari developed for Windows.
Safari 5 includes the following new features:
Safari 6.0 was previously known as Safari 5.2 until Apple announced the change at WWDC 2012. The stable release of Safari 6 coincided with the release of OS X Mountain Lion on July 25, 2012, and is integrated into the OS. As Apple integrated it with Mountain Lion, it is no longer available for download from the Apple website or other sources. Apple released Safari 6 via Software Update for users of OS X Lion. It has not been released for OS X versions prior to Lion or for Windows. Regarding the unavailability of Safari 6 on Windows, Apple has stated "Safari 6 is available for Mountain Lion and Lion. Safari 5 continues to be available for Windows." Microsoft removed Safari from its BrowserChoice page.
On June 11, 2012, Apple released a developer preview of Safari 6.0 with a feature called iCloud Tabs, which allows users to 'sync' their open tabs with any iOS or other OS X device running the latest software. Safari 6 also included new privacy features, including an "Ask websites not to track me" preference, and the ability for websites to send OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion users notifications, although it removed RSS support. Safari 6 has the Share Sheets capability in OS X Mountain Lion. The Share Sheet options are: Add to Reading List, Add Bookmark, Email this Page, Message, Twitter and Facebook. Users can now see tabs with full page previews available.
Safari 6 introduced the following features, many of which are only available on OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion:
Additionally various features were removed, including, but not limited to, Activity Window, separate Download Window, direct support for RSS feeds in the URL field and bookmarks. The separate search field is also no longer available as a toolbar configuration option.
Safari 8 was announced at WWDC 2014 and released with OS X Yosemite. It included WebGL support, stronger privacy features, increased speed and efficiency, enhanced iCloud integration, and updated design.
Safari 8 introduced the following features, available on OS X Yosemite:
Safari 10 was released alongside macOS Sierra 10.12 for OS X Yosemite and OS X El Capitan. It does not include all of the new features available in macOS Sierra, like Apple Pay on the web and picture-in-picture support for videos, but the update includes the following new functions:
Safari 10 also includes a number of security updates, including fixes for six WebKit vulnerabilities and issues related to Reader and Tabs.
Safari 11 was released as a part of macOS High Sierra but was also made available for OS X El Capitan and macOS Sierra on September 19, 2017. Safari 11 includes several new features such as an Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature which prevents websites from cross-site tracking.
Safari Technology Preview was first released alongside OS X El Capitan 10.11.4. Safari Technology Preview releases include the latest version of WebKit, incorporating Web technologies to be incorporated in future stable releases of Safari, so that developers and users can install the Technology Preview release on a Mac, test those features, and provide feedback.
Until Safari 6.0, it included a built-in web feed aggregator that supported the RSS and Atom standards. Current features include Private Browsing (a mode in which no record of information about the user's web activity is retained by the browser), an "Ask websites not to track me" privacy setting, the ability to archive web content in WebArchive format, the ability to email complete web pages directly from a browser menu, the ability to search bookmarks, and the ability to share tabs between all Mac and iOS devices running appropriate versions of software via an iCloud account.
iOS-specific features for Safari enable:
Tab limit increased from 36 to 500
More rounded search bar
WebKit2 is a multiprocess API for WebKit, where the web-content is handled by a separate process than the application using WebKit. Apple announced WebKit2 in April 2010. Safari for OS X switched to the new API with version 5.1. Safari for iOS switched to WebKit2 with iOS 8.
Apple maintains a plugin blacklist that it can remotely update to prevent potentially dangerous or vulnerable plug-ins from running on Safari. So far, Apple has blocked versions of Flash and Java.
The license has common terms against reverse engineering, copying and sub-licensing, except parts that are open source, and it disclaims warranties and liability.
Apple tracks use of the browser. Windows users may not opt out of tracking, since their license omits the opening If clause. Other users may opt out, and all users can opt out of location tracking by not using location services. "If you choose to allow diagnostic and usage collection, you agree that Apple and its subsidiaries and agents may collect... usage and related information... to provide ... services to you (if any) related to the Apple Software... in a form that does not personally identify you... Apple may also provide any such partner or third party developer with a subset of diagnostic information that is relevant to that partner’s or developer’s software... Apple and its partners, licensees, third party developers and website may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use your location data... and location search queries... in a form that does not personally identify you ... You may withdraw this consent at any time..."
Apple thinks "personal" does not cover "unique device identifiers" such as serial number, cookie number, or IP address, so they use these where allowed by law. "We may collect, use, transfer, and disclose non-personal information for any purpose. The following are some examples of non-personal information that we collect ... unique device identifier... We treat information collected by cookies and other technologies as non‑personal information. However, to the extent that Internet Protocol (IP) addresses or similar identifiers are considered personal information by local law, we also treat these identifiers as personal information."
In September 2017 Apple announced that it will use artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce the ability of advertisers to track Safari users as they browse the web. Cookies used for tracking will be allowed for 24 hours, then disabled, unless AI judges the user wants the cookie. Major advertising groups objected, saying it will reduce the free services supported by advertising, while other experts praised the change.
An overview and detailed information about Safari exploits is listed by CVE Details.
In the PWN2OWN contest at the 2008 CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, an exploit of Safari caused Mac OS X to be the first OS to fall in a hacking competition. Participants competed to find a way to read the contents of a file located on the user's desktop in one of three operating systems: Mac OS X Leopard, Windows Vista SP1, and Ubuntu 7.10. On the second day of the contest, when users were allowed to physically interact with the computers (the prior day permitted only network attacks), Charlie Miller compromised Mac OS X through an unpatched vulnerability of the PCRE library used by Safari. Miller was aware of the flaw before the conference and worked to exploit it unannounced, as is the common approach in these contests. The exploited vulnerability and other flaws were patched in Safari 3.1.1.
In the 2009 PWN2OWN contest, Charlie Miller performed another exploit of Safari to hack into a Mac. Miller again acknowledged that he knew about the security flaw before the competition and had done considerable research and preparation work on the exploit. Apple released a patch for this exploit and others on May 12, 2009 with Safari 3.2.3.
Safari 6.0 requires a Mac running Mac OS X v10.7.4 or later. Safari 5.1.7 requires a Mac running Mac OS X v10.6.8 or any PC running Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. Safari 5.0.6 requires a Mac running on Mac OS X 10.5.8.
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An earlier version of Apple Software Update (bundled with Safari, QuickTime, and iTunes for Microsoft Windows) selected Safari for installation from a list of Apple programs to download by default, even when an existing installation of Safari was not detected on a user's machine. John Lilly, former CEO of Mozilla, stated that Apple's use of its updating software to promote its other products was "a bad practice and should stop." He argued that the practice "borders on malware distribution practices" and "undermines the trust that we're all trying to build with users." Apple spokesman Bill Evans sidestepped Lilly's statement, saying that Apple was only "using Software Update to make it easy and convenient for both Mac and Windows users to get the latest Safari update from Apple." Apple also released a new version of Apple Software Update that puts new software in its own section, though still selected for installation by default. By late 2008, Apple Software Update no longer selected new installation items in the new software section by default.
Software security firm Sophos detailed how Snow Leopard and Windows users were not supported by the Safari 6 release at the time, while there were over 121 vulnerabilities left unpatched on those platforms. Since then, Snow Leopard has had only three minor version releases (the most recent in September 2013), and Windows has had none. While no official word has been released by Apple, the indication is that these are the final versions available for these operating systems, and both retain significant security issues.
While Safari pioneered several now standard HTML5 features (such as the Canvas API) in its early years, it has increasingly come under attack for failing to keep pace with modern web standards. In the past, Apple did not allow third party web browsers under iOS, but now there are plenty of web browsers available for iOS, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Edge. However, due to Apple developer's policies, browsers like Firefox for iOS needed to change its internal browser engine from Gecko to WebKit. There are ongoing lawsuits in France related with Apple policies for developers. 
The Safari Developer Program was a free program for writers of extensions and HTML5 websites. It allowed members to develop extensions for Apple's Safari web browser. Since WWDC 2015 it is part of the unified Apple Developer Program, which costs $99 a year.
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