iOS 7 Preview: Safari gets a major update with new tabs UI, gestures, smart search field, iCloud keychain and more

ios7_safari_tab_screen

Safari is probably one of the only stock iOS apps that gets some attention in every major iOS software update. So not surprisingly, Safari has received an update in iOS 7 as well.

Here’s what Apple has to say about the changes and improvements in Safari in iOS 7:

With things out of the way, there’s way more web.

Browsing is bigger, better, and more beautiful with Safari in iOS 7. Buttons and bars — like the unified smart search field — stay hidden until you scroll to reveal them. So you see more content than ever on your screen. And with a swipe, you can go back or forward a page. It’s all designed so nothing gets in your way or slows you down.

Here’s what’s new or has changed in iOS 7 Safari based on information we’ve received so far:

  • The first thing you’ll notice when you launch Safari in iOS 7 is the new fullscreen look, where the search field at the top and the toolbar at the bottom disappear when you’re browsing, and shows you the content with domain name of the website in the status bar.

ios7_safari_full_screen

  • You can navigate back and forth through your browser history using gestures. You can go back to the previous webpage by swiping from the left edge of the display and go forward by swiping from the right edge of the display.
  • The search and address bar have been merged into a new unified smart search field, that allows you type the url of the website or search.
  • You can access the smart search field by tapping or pulling down at the top.
  • When you tap on the search field, it displays icons for all your favorites, giving you quick and easy one-tap access to them.
  • When you start typing, it displays the top url hit, suggestions from Google Search or your favorite search engine, your Bookmarks and history, and results of the text search on the webpage in real-time.
  • The Bookmark controls has also been revamped with a tabbed interface. When you tap on the Bookmark icon at the bottom, it displays your Bookmarks.

ios7_safari_bookmarks_screen

  • You also have a tab for shared links, these are links shared by people you follow on Twitter.
  • You also have a tab to access your Reading list. You have the option to show just the unread links or all the links in your Reading list, by tapping on the Show Unread/Show all toggle at the bottom right of the screen.
  • You can now scroll seamlessly from article to article in your Reading list. You don’t have to go through the hassle of going back to your Reading list to access the next link.
  • As we’ve pointed out earlier, the Share panel have been completely redesigned in iOS 7. When you tap on the Share control at the bottom, it opens the Share panel, which consists of three distinct sections:
    • In the top most section, you get an option to share the URL of the webpage with people nearby using the new AirDrop for iOS feature.
    • In the next section, you get the option to share the URL via Message, Mail, iCloud, Facebook and Twitter.
    • In the last section, you have the option to Bookmark, Add to Reading list, Add to Home Screen, Print or the copy the url of the webpage.

ios7_safari_tab_screen

  • To close a webpage, just swipe a tab offscreen to the left or tap on the x button. You can close only one tab at a time, and there is no option to close all tabs.
  • You can also reorder the tabs by tapping and holding on a tab, and moving it to the place you want it.
  • You’re no longer limited to just 8 on the iPhone, you can open as many tabs as you want.
  • It is easier and quicker to turn on or turn off private browsing session in iOS 7 Safari. Tap on the tab control at the bottom, followed by the Private button on the bottom left corner to turn on or turn off private browsing. You don’t have to go through the hassle of accessing the Settings app to enable or disable Private browsing.
  • You can access your iCloud tabs, by scrolling down beyond your local tabs. They’re displayed as a list against a translucent background, sorted by device.
  • You can tap on the icon to the left of the smart search field to access the Safari Reader feature, which displays web articles without ads or clutter. The icon turns white when the Reader functionality is activated.
  • Safari in iOS 7 also comes with support for iCloud Keychain feature, which remembers your account names, passwords, and credit card numbers. Safari will enter them automatically when you sign in to a site or shop online.

ios7_safari_passwords_screen

  • When you create a new account, Safari will give you a “Suggest Password” option when you tap on a password field next to navigation arrows to generate a unique, hard-to-guess passwords, and remember it by storing it in your iCloud keychain, which is then synced to all your iOS devices.
  • Apple has ditched the .com button from the iOS Keyboard in Safari and replaced it with a dot, making more room for the space bar. You can still tap and hold on the dot to access the domain extensions.

Surprisingly, Apple didn’t announce any performance improvements in Safari, and it looks like developers still won’t be able to access the Nitro javascript engine via the UIWebView, which means that third-party browsers will continue to run slower than Safari.

This is easily one of the biggest update Safari has received since Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, and came as a pleasant surprise as we weren’t expecting a lot. The user interface gets the modern new look, which we’ve seen with other stock apps in iOS 7, along with improved navigation and accessibility. The new fullscreen look, gestures, new tabs UI, easier accessibility, and removal of the 8 tabs limitation are our favorite features.

The new Safari will be available when iOS 7 is released later this fall (probably on September 19th). Check out our iOS 7 category page for everything you need to know about Apple’s next generation mobile operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Let us know what you think of the changes and improvements in iOS 7 Safari.

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Categories: iOS 7