When Apple rolled out previews of the next versions of macOS, iOS, and iPadOS back in June, the most controversial aspect was the dramatic redesign the company gave to the Safari web browser. The new design sidelined much of the app’s user interface, choosing instead to prioritize web pages. And criticism has been fierce.
The good news is, based on the most recent preview releases of macOS, Apple is treating that Safari design more like a first draft than a final edition. Apple may not be going back to the drawing board with Safari 15, but it seems to be committed to listening to the criticism and making changes before the new design arrives on everyone’s devices this fall.
Safari isn’t just another app. I would argue that the web browser is the single most important app on just about any device, and on Apple’s devices, Safari reigns supreme. Sure, you can run other web browsers, but Apple would very much prefer all its users stick to Safari and would view any abandonment as a major embarrassment. The stakes are high.
With the latest beta releases, Safari on macOS has been left in a state that clearly can’t be the finished product—it’s a sign that Apple wants to show progress while still needing time to undo or tweak what it has done. On iPadOS, changes are in the works, but not visible yet. And on iOS, the new design feels a bit more entrenched but also still clearly in flux.