The beta of Safari 4 has just been released, and at first sparkle it seems a worthy upgrade. It makes a good opening splash, too, taking Chrome's idea of having a mosaic of favourite pages as the starting point - only this being Apple, they're all curved into a Cinemascope-style 3D screen. Which is nice, but not really revolutionary.
And it is faster than either. On the PC, which was a rather tired old HP workstation running XP, Chrome clocked in at 1340ms as the headline rate for the SunSpider tests; Safari 4 managed 1082, twenty percent faster.
On the much spiffier 24" office iMac, Safari 4 (after three reboots; it was fussy about the latest security updates to Leopard) managed 653ms: Firefox 3 could only crawl past the finishing line after 2555ms - making Safari some 75 percent swifter.
We'll be having a harder, longer look at Safari later - Apple goes on to make great claims about HTML 5 and CSS 3 - and we rather hope that such audacity will help focus the minds of those who may be bringing Chromium to Mac OS.