iOS 8 Preview: A closer look at Safari’s new features and improvements

BY Jason

Published 26 Aug 2014

iOS 8 Safari Tab view

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 8 as well.

Here’s what Apple has to say about the changes and improvements in Safari in iOS 8:

The Tab view you know and love in Safari on iPhone now appears on your iPad. You can see all your open web pages, with tabs from the same site grouped together. There’s also a new Sidebar that slides out to reveal your bookmarks, Reading List, and Shared Links. So you’ll enjoy a familiar browsing experience across all your devices.

But that’s not the only thing that’s new in Safari in iOS 8.

Safari gets the fullscreen view

Safari for iPad also gets the new fullscreen mode, which was introduced for the iPhone in iOS 7, 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.

iOS 8 Safari fullscreen mode

New Sidebar

Safari on the iPad gets a new Sidebar that can be accessed by tapping on the bookmark button, it gives you access to your bookmarks, Reading List and Shared links from Twitter.

iOS 8 Safari new sidebar

iPad gets the Tab view

iOS 8 finally brings the Tab view to Safari on the iPad. The Tab view on Safari is more organized, as tabs from the same site are grouped together, and the tabs open on your other devices are nicely arranged below the tabs.

iOS 8 Safari Tab view

You can switch to the tab view with a two or three-finger pinch gesture as you can see in the video below, which is quite cool.

App Extensions for Safari

One of the killer features in iOS 8 that will significantly change the way we use Safari is App Extensions, which will for example: allow you to use 1Password to auto populate the username and password for secure websites, or allow you to save a link to services like Pocket, Evernote etc. so you can read it later if Safari’s Reading list is not your preferred option. You can see how the 1Password app extension will work in Safari in the video below:

Request Desktop site

Most third-party browsers like Chrome have an option for users to request for the Desktop site for quite sometime. You will finally be able to request the Desktop version of the site in Safari by simply tapping on the URL of the website, swipe the screen of the Safari homepage down on the screen, then tap on Request Desktop Site. As you can see, you also have an “Add to Favorites”, which is a lot easier and faster way to add a website to Favorites.

iOS 8 Request Desktop Site


Autofill Credit Card Information with your Camera

The autofill feature makes it easier to fill credit card information in iOS 8 with your iPhone’s camera. When you tap on the credit card field, you will get an option to Scan Credit Card on top of the keyboard. Safari will then use the camera, and you’ll need to position the card in the frame for it to automatically take the photo, scan and fill the information in the credit card field.

iOS 8 Safari Credit Card scan


And more

You also have the option to reorder the activities such as adding Bookmark, adding to the reading list, Home screen or Shared links by tapping on the More option.

If you’re concerned about privacy, then you’ll be happy to know that you’ll get an option to select DuckDuckGo as your default search engine, which is popular for its no-tracking privacy policy.

One of the features that is not directly related to Safari but worth mentioning here is that iOS 8 will finally bring the same Javascript performance as Safari to third-party apps. Safari had an unfair advantage prior to iOS 8 as the Nitro JavaScript Engine was not accessible to third-party apps like browsers due to security concerns. iOS 8′s WebKit seems to have addressed the security concerns, as it includes improvements such as increased JavaScript performance via WebKit’s super-fast JIT.  This is great news as it was one of the frustrating aspects of iOS, and certainly affected user experience. It would also mean that Safari won’t have an unfair advantage at least in terms of performance, which is one of the key factors while deciding which browser to use by default.

Third party apps will be able to access saved passwords and other AutoFill info from Safari as long as both of them point to the same domain. This will make it a lot easier to login to native apps, as the Safari saved password database is synced across your iPhone, iPad and Mac. Additionally, apps can also add passwords to Safari’s AutoFill info, so that the same credentials get reflected across all your devices.

The new features and improvements will be available when iOS 8 is released next month. Check out our iOS 8 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 8 Safari.