Safari just trounced Microsoft Edge’s AI features

This story is part of our complete Apple WWDC coverage

Apple has announced a round of new features for Safari at WWDC 2024, and there’s a lot of AI involved. We knew it was going to happen eventually — Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge have been trialing and launching new AI features for a while already.

First things first, the new Safari is speedy. On macOS, it’s “the world’s fastest browser,” so we can expect to get some snappy responses when we’re searching the web. Apple also claims that Safari can stream video for four hours longer than Google Chrome can manage before depleting your battery.

Privacy features keep getting improved too, using intelligent tracking prevention to help make “private browsing that’s actually private.” This means that as well as protecting your history, Safari also stops websites from seeing what you’re doing as you browse.

We’ll also be able to find important information quicker with the new Highlights feature. It uses machine learning to identify important snippets of information on the page you’re looking at and display them for you to see easily. This includes information like directions, phone numbers, and summaries — the kind of stuff you want to know quickly, without having to find it. It also gives you quick links to learn more about the people, places, music, and movies mentioned on the page.

The Reader feature now uses AI to generate summaries too, as well as a table of contents to help you navigate quickly.

There’s also a new Viewer mode that also lives in the address bar. When you click it, Safari will detect the video on the page and automatically enlarge it, so you can focus on the content you actually want to see. When you click away from the Safari window, it’ll automatically go into Picture in Picture mode so you can continue viewing without having to adjust anything yourself.

This might be only the beginning of Apple’s plans for AI-powered features in Safari but it’s definitely a subtle start. None of it is too in-your-face and there’s definitely a focus on usefulness, rather than arguable gimmicks like Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome’s AI browser theme generators. All of the big browsers have AI-assisted writing features too, but Apple’s isn’t just limited to Safari, it’s available system-wide so you can use it in any application you want.

Willow Roberts — Computing Writer

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