Apple's Safari 3.0.4 strikes an excellent balance between the need for increased functionality and the need to add new functions.

Increasingly, web browsers have become the conduit through which we interact with the world around us. It's not just about reading web pages any more - browsers now act as multi-functional tools for watching video, listening to audio and chatting with our friends.

Because of these greater demands, browsers are not only becoming more sophisticated but also more complex.

In this increasingly demanding atmosphere, Apple's Safari 3.0.4 strikes an excellent balance between the need for increased functionality and the need to add new functions.

The best browsers support the current web standards for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (the technologies that make web pages), so that pages load consistently regardless of your chosen technology. Apple constantly releases Safari updates so that the browser always has the latest features, including some cutting-edge web standards that haven't been officially released.

Safari already displays the toughest web pages like greased lightening. Add to that its intuitive interface, with tabs and an easy-to-use bookmarking system.

Safari keeps its interface clean and lean so that you can focus on the web page.

Safari 3 adds to this solid foundation by refining existing features and adding new functionality that enhances how you use the web. Refinements include the browser's new inline searching, which highlights all matching search terms as you type, and new PDF controls, which allow you to display and control this popular document format directly in the browser window without having to open a new application.

For Apple users, Safari's most striking new feature is Web Clip, an OS X 10.5-only addition. Web Clip allows you to select part of a web page and instantly turn it into a Dashboard widget. For example, let's say your favorite organisation has a news headline section on its homepage.

With Web Clip, all you have to do is "clip" the news box from that web page by clicking the Web Clip button next to Safari's address field, selecting the relevant section, and clicking the Add button.

Whenever you want to check headlines, all you have to do is switch to Dashboard to see your clipping. This may well be the future of how we interact with the web.

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