A new developer preview of Safari 5.1 was released yesterday in the Safari Dev Center. Safari 5.1, which ships with Lion in July, will take advantage of GPU acceleration on Windows and enable new HTML5 APIs allowing for the creation of much more sophisticated web apps. In addition to support for the latest CSS3 goodies such Text Emphasis, Vertical Text, Auto-Hyphenation and Transitions and Animations, the 45.3MB download also works with Web Open Font Format and Mathematical Markup Language (MathML). More importantly – and in line with Chrome’s architecture – plug-ins and Safari’s WebKit rendering engine now run in their own process separately of the main Safari process, meaning a misbehaving plug-in or HTML code cannot crash the browser. We’re just getting started, though.

Improved HTML5 media capabilities include audio and video caching for smoother content streaming. Web apps will be able to tell when the user’s tab is inactive in order to suspend or resume their process as to not tax the browser unnecessarily. Web developers will also love the new keyboard behavior controls, support for full-screen content and interactive popover menus – all handled via HTML5. This should pave the way for immersive web apps that mimic the appearance of iPad apps in the same way full-screen Lion apps match the look and feel of their iPad counterparts. Apple is obviously envision a future where applications – be it on your desktop, mobile device or on the web – behave and look as much consistently and similarly as possible.

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