The names are familiar: Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari. These relatively new browsers have been shaking the foundations of Internet Explorers complete victory over Netscape. These new browser are implementing fresh ideas and breaking out of the crusty browsers of the early 21st century. With the second browser wars in full swing, lets see where things stand and what’s coming.
Mozilla Firefox 3.6
Safari 4 was just released, and we have not heard any official statement from Apple what features Safari 5 will include, but looking at WebKit we can see what core browser technologies are being developed. WebKit has added geolocation support, HTML 5 draggable, and HTML 5 forms patterns and required attributes. What directly user visible changes will Apple make? We will have to wait and see.
Internet Explorer 9?
The next version of IE is still quite a ways out (3 years if you look at the release time-frame of IE 7 and 8 ) but it’s expected to boast many new HTML 5 features including native video and audio playback. Internet Explorer 9 should be quite a feature packed release with HTML 5 goodness, better performance, and improved standards support.
Opera 10 was just released this month but the team is working on Opera 10.10 with Unite. So far we’re waiting to hear more from the Opera team about what they are working on.
Google Chrome 4
Overall the competition looks quite healthy and browsers are being enhanced to be the Operating System of the future.
For users, Chrome add support for custom themes, similar to Firefox’s personas but is more complete by changing the look of the toolbar and the browser pages (new tab page, etc.). See the Google Chrome blog for more info.
What does Apple have on the horizon for Safari as version 4 was just released 2 months ago (June, 2009)? So far we have not heard anything and that isn’t a huge surprise, Apple is a very secrative company. The good news is that Safari is based on the open source WebKit rendering engine, so we can check out the list of feature enhancements added to WebKit since Safari 4 released with AppleWebKit/531.9.
New WebKit features:
Geolocation API including suspend/resume. This has been in the iPhone browser since last year
Estimated Release Date: June 2011
Update: Apple has indeed released Safari 5 with a tun of new HTML5 features and performance improvements, and a year ahead of my estimate; check it out at the Safari What’s New page.
Internet Explorer 9 is coming. The number 9 is a guess, but Microsoft is not getting left behind in the web browser scene again. With Internet Explorer 8 being released 5 months ago in March 2009, we have little information so far as to what is going to be included in the next release. We knew two things Microsoft is doing, they are asking customers for feedback, and they are investigating HTML 5 features.
The second thing we know is that Microsoft has been reading the HTML 5 spec and recently posted feedback on the public W3 mailing list. This indicates they are interested in building HTML 5 features into their next web browser; although, at this point its anybodies guess as to what they would implement. We await more information.