Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Safari Changes in the Sixth Beta of iOS 15

Federico Viticci on Twitter:

Safari in iOS 15 beta 6 features a new address bar at the bottom that sits below page content. A toolbar with buttons is back.

And we can put the address bar back at the top again

These are incremental changes to a big redesign, and I think they create the most successful iteration yet. Bringing the toolbar to the bottom is undeniably a muscle memory breaker, but I think it is worth the cost because it keeps a user’s hands in the same position more often. You can go from scrolling through a webpage to entering a URL without once shuffling the device in your hands.

This new version still has some rough edges. The huge drop shadow around the address bar is a nonstandard effect that confuses me. I guess it is supposed to indicate that the element is floating and interactive, but it creates a kind of blurry grey mess. The drop shadow also visually disconnects the address bar from the page or tab it represents.

The tab organizer is relatively unchanged from past builds, so accessing and using Tab Groups remains a learning curve. There is no obligation to use it, however. If you are a casual web browser, not a lot will change.

I would not be upset if this version shipped tomorrow. If Apple’s goals were to make Safari more thumb-friendly while still feeling familiar, I think this approach is a success. I still think the version of Safari 15 on the iPad and Mac needs to be improved, but this is a welcome set of changes.