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Apple dials back the Safari 15 for macOS redesign

Posted in Apple

At WWDC this year, Apple redesigned their Safari apps. Safari for macOS’s streamlined chrome looked good, so I eagerly downloaded the newest Safari Technology Preview. In practice it has been an unpleasant experience.

  • Changing tabs causes the tab you’re leaving to shrink and the tab you select to grow, shifting all the other tabs around in the process, making it difficult to know exactly what has happened
  • The ‘forward’ button only appears when you’ve got a page to go forward to; when there are lots of tabs open, it feels like the back button will scroll to show more hidden tabs to the left
  • The missing reload button doesn’t bother me as I tend to use (command) + r
  • The ‘meatball’ menu (three horizontal dots, like this ᐧᐧᐧ) is, like hamburger menus, a bad user experience; it declutters the interface but makes the experience much poorer

I’m left thinking about that famous quote from Steve Jobs, back in 2003:

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks … and feels like. Design is how it works.

The good news is that Apple have walked back from the new design: in the newest beta of Monterey there’s now a checked-by-default “Show Separate Tab Bar” option in Safari’s Preferences. Probably for the best.

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