John Gruber of “Daring Fireball” (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/05/25/chrome-beta) hints that Apple might release a “proper extension API” (application programming interface) for Safari at June’s Worldwide Developer Conference. I hope he’s right. It’s long overdue since both Firefox and Chrome offer extensions.
Still, it’s hard to imagine Apple “opening up” its web browser, since Jobs & Company like to have near-total control over all their products and technologies. On the other hand, Firefox and Chrome have both put the pressure on Safari, and the ability to tweak the Safari experience as you’d like would certainly appeal to a lot of users.
Extensions are software add-ons for web browsers. Among the bazillion Firefox and Chrome extensions are ones that let you: do screen captures, prevent Flash content from running without being explicitly started or whitelisted (hmmm, I guess Steve Jobs might like this one), integrate Wikipedia functionality, add notepad functionality, lock sites you specify after a time allotment you specify, and much more.
They’re nice, but, as John Brownlee of “Cult of Mac” notes (http://www.cultofmac.com/will-apple-unveils-safari-5-with-extensions-support-at-wwdc/44542), “things can get quite ugly and confusing, design-wise, with a lot of extensions installed” and “Apple can’t be too happy about that prospect.” Plus, some extensions can slow down the browsing experience.
Actually, there are plenty of extensions and add-ons for Safari; you can find several at PimpMySafari (http://pimpmysafari.com/). However, Apple doesn’t officially condone extensions and there’s no official “extension architecture,” so any update of the web browser could “break” the extensions at any time.
So what will Apple do? I think they’ll begin support for extensions. However, they’ll only offer Apple-approved extensions on an Apple web site, much as they approve apps to be sold on the Apple App Store.
— Dennis Sellers