An Apple employee who advocates for Safari developers got an eyeful after taking to Twitter to ask users for feedback on why the Safari browser is unpopular and to ask that they point out specific issues with it.
Jen Simmons, an Apple evangelist and developer advocate on the Web Developer Experience team for Safari and WebKit, was clearly taken aback by the responses.
“Catching up with tech Twitter this morning and there seems to be an angry pocket of men who really want Safari to just go away,” Simmons tweeted. “Do we really want to live in a 95% Chromium browser world? That would be a horrible future for the web. We need more voices, not fewer.”
Unlike some rival browsers, such as Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s updates to Safari are sparse, with major upgrades just once a year. So the bulk of new features are often rolled out in a single instance. While that may be appealing for some who dislike frequent browser updates, it also means upgrades and/or fixes for Safari don’t come often.
In recent years, however, Safari has borne a raft of complaints about the browser’s bugs, user interface and experience, and website compatibility, according to MacRumors.
Last June, Apple unveiled a substantial redesign for Safari at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Many of those changes, however, were met with quick criticism describing them as “counterintuitive.”
Apple went through several iterations of the browser during the summer — both on mobile devices and desktops — and allowed users to largely revert to the previous Safari design prior to the release of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey.
The developer has also continued to work on privacy improvements in Safari as it seeks to gain market share in the enterprise. For example, in the current version of iOS 14.5 (in beta), Apple has been working on changing how Safari accesses Google’s Safe Browsing service. The Safe Browsing service warns users when they visit a fraudulent website. Through that service, Apple issues “Fraudulent Website Warning” alerts for iOS and iPadOS devices.
While Safari, the native browser on Apple devices, has a significant number of users — especially on the iPhone and iPad — Google’s Chrome has become the de facto browser for most with about 64% of the monthly user share, according to W3Counter, a web traffic tracking service. Safari comes in a distant second with 16.5% of web traffic. Internet Explorer/Edge comes in third with 6.1% of the traffic, and Firefox and Opera claimed 4% and 1.4%, respectively.
Web traffic tracker Net MarketShare is more generous to Safari; it pegged Chrome’s user share at 56%, Safari at 38%, and Firefox at 5%.
While Safari may be in second place for usage, it appeared at times to come in last place for likability based on responses to Simmons’ query.
“Everyone in my mentions [is] saying Safari is the worst, it’s the new IE,” Simmons tweeted.
Hoping to get to the bottom of the anger, Simmons asked Twitter users to point to specific bugs and missing support that frustrate them or make it harder for them to create websites or apps. “Bonus points for links to tickets,” she wrote.
“Specifics we can fix. Vague hate is honestly super counterproductive,” she added.
While some, likeespoused “love” for Safari, they also voiced frustration that it has become buggy.
“I love [S]afari,” wrote Emory Fierlinger, a web designer and developer. “Switched years ago. Unfortunately lately its become so buggy that I’ve started searching for alternatives. I use @webflow a lot, and it just performs better in chromium based browsers. Not sure if it’s a fault of theirs or Safari’s….”
Fierlinger also complained that certain pop-ups were annoying, and scrolling while in Safari produces a jittery, “janky” screen.
Another Twitter user, @epintobasto, complained Safari doesn’t “support Metamask or any other crypto wallet. Hope the crypto community adopts Safari in MacOS and iOS.”
“I’d like to look into it,” she wrote.