Safari 14 brings some new technologies to macOS Big Sur like Privacy Report and a customizable start page. You can play around with these features without installing the macOS 11 beta. Apple has a special version of its browser called Safari Technology Preview. It’s experimental software and I don’t recommend using it as your everyday browser. But it’s a nice way for users and developers to see what’s coming.
One feature that you’ll see right away is Privacy Report. This is a built-in tool that blocks all sorts of trackers on the websites you visit. You click a button in the tab bar that looks like a shield, then you’ll see trackers that were blocked on each website. If you click on the “i” button you can see a full report over the past 30 days, and this also appears in Start Page.
There are plenty of Safari extensions that give you the same functionality, like DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Essentials. But I like seeing native tools so that users are protected by default.
When you open a new tab you’ll see the Start Page has been redesigned. Here you’ll find your bookmarks, the Privacy Report, and selected items from your Reading List. In the bottom right there is a settings button. You can decide which features show up here, and change the background. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping a photo from Finder. Or, choose from Apple’s default wallpapers.
Start Page and Privacy Report will be the most noticeable to users, but there are plenty of other technologies coming that may not be easy to see.
- Password breach notifications. On macOS 11 Safari will tell you when one of your passwords in iCloud Keychain was detected in a data breach.
- Web Extensions. Apple is making it easy for developers to convert their extensions used in other browsers and bring them to Safari using Xcode 12.
- Tab Icons. Known as “favicons” these are icons used by a website that will show up in the browser tabs. Since humans are visually-oriented, this will let you find a website faster than before.
- Tab previews. When you hold your mouse cursor over an inactive browser tab, a preview of that page will appear.
- Domain-bound codes. This is an addition to a feature called Security Code Autofill. If you get an SMS two-factor authentication code, Messages can automatically fill the code field for you. Domain-bound means it will only appear on that specific website.
I think built-in tracker blocking will have a big impact. Safari already uses Intelligent Tracking Prevention to make it harder for advertisers to track you. Privacy Report is a nice way to see exactly what trackers are being blocked.