Safari 4 loading spinner

Okay, Safari 4 is now released, and thank god they abandoned top tabs. Whew.

But for some reason, they kept the stop/reload madness.

In the past, the Safari combined the stop and reload buttons and pinned this new button directly to the left of the address bar. This made great sense, because the address bar served also as a progress bar. You could see how much of the page had loaded, and if it had stalled. You could then stop the loading, or reload. It was a tight little bit of browser user experience.

In Safari 4, Apple thought it would be fun to fuck all that up.

Now instead of a progress bar, we have a spinner which yields no information other than that safari has requested a page. The stop/reload button is now no longer a button, but a set of glyphs that live pinned to the right-inside of the address bar. In its place now lives the bookmark button.

There will be a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth any time you mess with people’s muscle memory. So there is bound to be complaining, including mine, from the legions of people who want to reload a page and instead see a bookmark dropdown. Mmmm rage.

But once we’ve all settled into the new groove, we’re back to happy productivity right? Well unfortunately not. See, the problem with this new scheme is that the address bar is an expandable element. While the old stop/reload button could dependably always be found very close to the upper right hand corner of the window, now it drifts somewhere in the middle depending on how wide your browser window is. That means that whenever you want to use it, you have to find it in its new location every time. It might be in the same place as last time, it might not. In case you’re unclear, that’s fucking awful user interface design.

Just to kick you in the nuts, Apple has also removed the option of switching it back, which was in the beta. So you’re stuck with it.

Apparently this monstrosity of user design is to bring safari on the mac into line with how safari on the iphone acts. Which makes no sense at all. The iphone has very limited screen space, and browser windows are all the same size. You at least always know where the button is going to be on the iphone because there’s only ever 2 places it can be, one in landscape mode, one in portrait.

I’m not sure this is a big enough issue to make me move back to using Camino as my full time browser, but it’s certainly a big enough issue that Apple should fix it. There’s just no sense in sacrificing the usability of the desktop app for the sake of consistency between it and the iPhone.

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