Safari: Decent Browser But A Constant Headache For Developers
Apple’s Safari really is an okay browser. For a user, it’s lightweight, easy to use, and very much a part of Apple’s ecosystem of gadgets and software. In short, it works. Most of the time, it works great and has no issues rendering the web. But on the other side of the fence are developers — poor suffering developers who have only just finally got rid of Internet Explorer, which had been plaguing their lives for more than a decade. And yet they aren’t celebrating. They know IE hasn’t been a problem for a long time, but Safari has. So why do they hate Safari so much?
Safari: the never-ending headache
Like I said before, Safari just works, so people are okay with it. Unlike IE back in the day, it has the most modern features and is not really different from its alternatives, but Apple was never kind to developers. First of all, there’s the problem with WebKit — the browser’s engine. There’s nothing wrong with using a different engine — it’s even good that Chromium has competitors. But, being so slow to update, WebKit lags behind the other browsers regarding support of PWAs — progressive web apps.
PWAs are highly convenient and allow us to use websites just like we use apps. Safari has been extremely slow to implement their support; even now, it’s very limited. The reason they are doing it is simple: on mobile, most of their revenue comes from the App Store, and if web apps could replace “real” ones, they would surely hit Apple’s revenue. That’s why all browsers on iOS use WebKit.
Browsers, like most programs, receive updates all the time, a few times a month. But Safari, being a part of macOS and iOS, only gets fixes along with major OS updates. That means the browser is slow to get fixes, which frustrates the developers to no end.
And the fact that Apple hardware usually lasts a long time can be bad. Yes, it does sound strange, but imagine if your eCommerce project is aimed at seniors (who usually dislike changing computers). They no longer can update the OS (and hence, the browser) on such machines, and the browsing experience becomes a nightmare.
Debugging is a pain
It’s widely known that debugging Safari is a nightmare because you need a Mac and an iOS device for that. It’s expensive and not convenient, although there are third-party solutions like Browserstack — but they, too, cost a pretty penny.
As bad as IE had been?
It’s no secret that developers like to argue and moan about bugs. I often hear from them about just how bad Safari is, but is it as bad as Internet Explorer back in the day? Probably not. In Safari, most of the things do work, while in the times of Windows XP and IE6, it was common to see huge issues with everything, especially CSS. The number of bugs was out of this world, and Safari is still miles ahead compared to its former rival. Some might even say that Chrome’s monopoly is the real issue: Google, like Microsoft of old, likes to use its popularity to influence the whole web. IE was never a good browser, but the real issue was its popularity and the fact that Microsoft was so adamant about pushing unconventional features and ignoring everyone else on the market.