It Didn't Make The Keynote, But Safari 5 Is Here (And Faster Than Chrome And Firefox)

One of the things rumored to be appearing during Steve Jobs’ keynote at WWDC today was the next version of Safari, 5. That didn’t happen. But Apple occasionally gives us some quiet surprises, and that appears to be the case today as Safari 5 is in fact being released — at least according to a press release.

While it’s nowhere to be found on Apple’s Safari site yet, nor is it available yet in Software update, the new version is apparently coming today. So what’s in it? Well, like the new iPhone OS, it will have a new option to make Bing the built-in search engine. More significantly, the new version also brings Safari Extensions support — a new feature which will allow you to “customize and enhance the browsing experience.” This will allow the browser, which Apple says is used by 200 million devices worldwide (because they’re counting iPhones and iPads too), to match a key functionality of the rival browsers Chrome and Firefox.

About the new extensions, Apple writes:

The new, free Safari Developer Program allows developers to customize and enhance Safari 5 with extensions based on standard web technologies like HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. The Extension Builder, new in Safari 5, simplifies the development, installation and packaging of extensions. For enhanced security and stability, Safari Extensions are sandboxed, signed with a digital certificate from Apple and run solely in the browser.

Speaking of Chrome and Firefox, while Safari 5 will bring a 30% performance increase over Safari 4, Apple is also saying that the new version is 3% faster than the latest stable build of Chrome (5.0) and twice as fast as Firefox 3.6. All of this is based on SunSpider JavaScript tests of Apple’s latest Nitro engine.

Safari is also adding a new feature called “Reader” which will make it easier to read webpages by taking away all the excess design (and ads).

Update: PR Newswire pulled the release.

Update 2: And it’s now live on the site.