May 31, 2007

Google Gears Another Utility That Won't Work With Safari

Ratcheting up the company's applications battle with Microsoft today, Google debuted a new platform called Google Gears, a new developer API that lets Web developers also develop for offline use. Some are calling the introduction a game changer, and the service's cross-functionality on multiple platforms is lauded. But in what's too familiar a story, if you're a Mac user like me who prefers Safari as your Web browser, you're locked out.

The Google Gears page says in its system requirements it supports both Firefox 1.5+ and Internet Explorer 6.0+ browsers, with no mention of Safari. This despite recent close interaction with Google and Apple to deliver YouTube for the AppleTV, Google Maps for the iPhone, etc.

For some reason, being one of those on Safari today is akin to being a Mac user in the 1990s. Developers are coding for the major browsers, and we're lucky to be thrown a bone. Below are a few more bigtime apps that refuse to work under Safari:

1. The Alexa Toolbar

Alexa always, always dramatically undercounts Macs because Mac users site visits aren't counted. Despite years of knowing this was an issue, Alexa has made no move to offer anything but a toolbar for Windows users with Internet Explorer.

2. StumbleUpon

Although StumbleUpon has achieved success, recently making news for being purchased by eBay, the service is mostly mystery to me. The StumbleUpon toolbar is available only for Internet Explorer and Firefox. Safari users are not invited.

3. Google Pack

The Google Pack is available only for Windows users, period. Forget about any Mac version.

4. Google Toolbar

Making Safari 0 for 3 in the toolbar battle, Google Toolbar is only available on Firefox for the Mac or Internet Explorer. Safari users need not apply.

5. Yahoo! Toolbar

Aha! 0 for 4. The Yahoo! Toolbar is only available for Windows Internet Explorer or Firefox. Got Safari? Got no toolbar.

So whose fault is it here? Is it Apple's fault for creating a Web browser that wasn't extendible or developer friendly? Is it instead that the developers are ignoring the Mac OS X Safari market? Or further, are Web standards not being followed? I'd assume Google has the manpower to provide Mac OS X Safari capable Web applications, but they are putting resources somewhere else. For me, Safari is the very best browser. That these popular sites and programs are unavailable is extremely frustrating.