June 19, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

Safari ushers in better browser colors

Apple's Safari may not be rewriting the rules for Web browsing on Windows just yet, but it's leading the way with one significant change: photographs with better color.

Unlike the prevailing browsers on the Internet--Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox--the Apple browser supports different ways of encoding images that can mean richer, deeper colors. With the beta version of Safari now on Windows, Mac OS X users aren't the only ones who'll be able to see the difference.

However, Apple won't keep that edge for long. Mozilla's forthcoming Firefox 3 browser, due to ship in beta form this July, likely will include support for richer color, said Vlad Vukicevic, a technical leader at Mozilla and a photo enthusiast.

Together, the moves could help boost the Internet beyond the orbit of the sRGB color scheme, a broadly supported but limited standard initially introduced by Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. But it's not likely that Web photography will achieve sRGB escape velocity until the dominant Internet Explorer also follows suit.

A color test for browsers

People can see whether their browser properly supports color profiles by visiting an International Color Consortium Web page that shows a specially constructed image.

This first image tests whether your browser supports different ways of encoding color information. The four quarters of the image each are encoded with a different color profile: sRGB for the upper left, YCC-RGB for the upper right, GBR for the lower left and Adobe RGB for the lower right.

If your browser doesn't support International Color Consortium (ICC) color profiles, the scene looks like this.

If your browser supports ICC color profiles, the scene looks like this.

Credit: International Color Consortium

sRGB is fine for most people today, said Brad Hinkel, author of Color Management in Digital Photography and more recently a Microsoft project leader. But it doesn't encompass the full gamut of colors that the human eye can perceive or that can be displayed on the latest monitors.

"I've seen them. They're knock your socks off, intensely amazing--beautiful, vibrantly rich colors," Hinkel said. "Getting color management into Safari, into the browser and on the Internet is a great thing."

sRGB alternatives
Although the vast majority of images on the Web are encoded with sRGB, alternatives such as Adobe RGB, the European Color Intiaitive's ECI RGB and Microsoft's scRGB can display a broader palette of colors.

For now, there's little point employing the more sophisticated color schemes on the Web. IE, Firefox and Opera can't display them, and worse, Adobe RGB images, for example, typically look worse than sRGB on the Web. That's because the non-Safari browsers, incorrectly interpreting an Adobe RGB image as sRGB, drain the images of some of their color.

Not so with Safari. Apple machines are in widespread use among graphics professionals, and the operating system supports color encoding schemes that are called profiles and are standardized by a group called the International Color Consortium (ICC). Safari checks to see whether an image is tagged with a particular ICC color profile and displays it accordingly, tuned to work with the user's monitor.

While average Web surfers aren't likely to notice much of a difference, some professional photographers do care about the issue. For example, those selling images over the Web as stock art want them to look as good as possible, but they often encode their images as sRGB to make them appear better on the screens of potential purchasers.

People can see whether their browser properly supports color profiles by visiting an ICC Web page that shows a specially constructed image. With color support, the image appears to be a desert formation against a blue sky; without color support, it's a checkerboard of garishly distorted hues.

Color on computers is a complicated business, given the wide variety and near-infinite combinations of video cards, displays, printers, ink and cameras. ICC profiles can bring order to some of the chaos while preserving a bit more of the richness of color that human eyes can perceive.

CONTINUED: Browser support expanding…
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Technology doesn't exist until Microsoft "invents" (copies) or
utilizes it.
Better late than never, so whenever the *dominant* browsers add
this basic technology, I say "Welcome to the club".
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well it only makes sense
...cosnidering that the only reason for smaller companies with less market share to even exist is either better prices (which isn't the case with Apple) or more specialized, niche features or services (which IS the case).

Sounds great, but it's not going to make me switch to Safari. I don't take my flickr browsing THAT seriously. And, I'm not too keen on the idea of getting sucked into the world of 'Safari Standards'. (Mind you, I understand that the world of IE standards - or Mozilla standards for that matter - are no better in moral principal, but at least the majority of websites conform to them. That's worth something, if you ask me.)
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Link Flag
I'm a straight male so...
...I don't realize there are more than about eight colors anyway. I think I'll stick with a browser that doesn't crash every five minutes for now.
Posted by Kamokazi (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
your not using IE then?
Posted by maccam--2008 (19 comments )
Link Flag
Managing color is important
OS X manages color using ICC profiles on a system level. Not only does Safari read these profiles to properly display color, but all of the ICC profile aware applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and a host of others that have had this ability for years. Color management is at the heart of OS X. This also includes the OS X system applications like Preview and Mail. When I attach an ICC tagged image in Mail, I see the same colors being displayed as what I see in Photoshop. Also, the person on the other end, if they are using Mail and have a calibrated system, see what I see. This is important. I would think that having your photos display correctly would be important to anyone, pros as well as family snapshots. But I guess many have been conditioned to accept what is "good enough" when there is a much richer experience is available. I have used Safari for years but I also use Firefox. It is unfortunate when bias continues to keep us from enjoying all that this great world of technology has to offer. I guess we all just "Think Different".
Posted by HeyFriends (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes and no.
On a pro or pro-am level in Graphics, yes. (I have a Mac specifically for 3D/CG artwork). For Some slapdash website? No real need...

That said, it's kind of cool that more people are made aware of it if they intend to build websites, so at least the idea of color coordination and visual appeal can be refined and clarified.

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Most consumers are happy with music and movies that have been reduced in quality (MP3's, XViD, etc...) so why would they care when the same is done with their images? If it was that important to consumers then the move to Macs would have continued years ago.
Posted by DeathMagnet (249 comments )
Link Flag
Monitor calibration is more of a cause
Take two identical monitors (I have a pair of LCD's from the same production run) and view the same image. It won't look the same. Which is the correct one? Most end users won't have color calibration tools to place over the screen and help to adjust it. I've seen some of these start to appear on the market in the $100-$500 range, but the average end user won't even do that.

It really doesn't matter what OS, what video card, or what the image is if the monitor you're working with isn't calibrated. I don't think people even KNOW they can calibrate them or how to do so. Geeks, sure, we know how to do it or that it can be done at all in the first place. The average user? I seriously doubt it.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
Yes it is
One's monitor does not need to be calibrated to notice this sRGB
to RGB difference, especially when an image is tagged with an
ICC profile.

I make my living in the field of color management and correction
for the book industry and often distribute tagged PDF files in
this manner.

This is a very important change for the business community in
terms of improving brand "look/feel" consistency in sales and
marketing efforts.

Even if inconsistencies exist between monitors (and they do)
OVERALL color fidelity is vastly improved and this is what
matters to business, creative and ecommerce clients.

For the average home user, it's true that this develop is a bit less
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
This article is a joke right?!?!
Someone took the time to write an article about how Safari has better 'colers'... You've got to be kidding me. I can't believe I'm wasting my time even commenting on this. I'm just so dumbfounded that this an even worthy discussion.
Posted by tenbosch (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I could not agree more!
There are just so many people complaining abut horrible photo quality on the internet?? 99.9% of the human population wont be able to notice a difference.

Fix the window resize along the edges first....THAT is something you hear LOUD AND CLAER a lot.

What a joke....if Apple cant win....they create a new category to win in. Browser colors....dam that is lame.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
Worst beta ever...

Safari looks great, when it works... but this beta version is by far the worst of all beta version software that I put on my laptop. You can't really try it since it crashes most of the time and sometimes you get one text line information "Safari doesn't have information..." insted of page. This is more like alpha, I don't know why Apple did this in rush? Guys, your iPhone looks great, Safari also, take time and make it right.

Posted by vvlada (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well too bad the BETA doesn't live up to your standards of
incomplete software that's in a testing phase. lol
Posted by MaLvaDo39 (365 comments )
Link Flag
I used it for a week with only 2 crashes. I stopped using it when I figured out it had massive memory leaks.

If they get that figured out (and decrease the overall memory footprint), I'll switch back. It is WAY faster than either IE or FF and looks nicer too.
Posted by keith.r.benedict (93 comments )
Link Flag
works on my machine. quick, too.
Posted by tomac135 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Get a Mac
Not only is this browser superior but the whole computing
experience is superior to your archaic XP or Vista.
Posted by MaLvaDo39 (365 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get a life.......
Macs are really only good for making pretty things, which would be why color is so tied to their system. Personally I don't like their policy of it must be all things Apple/Mac sorry didn't join Jim Jones don't want to join this cult. BTW Mac is just as old as Microsoft. If you want a "real" experence go Linux, it is "newer".
Posted by snowman74 (10 comments )
Link Flag
Please stay on subject
Your comments, while inflammatory, have nothing to do with the article or discussion here. If you wish to provoke more pointless Mac vs PC arguments, please visit your local computer store and shout your comments out loud at the top of your voice.

While that won't be any more effective than what you're doing now, it WILL be much more entertaining for everyone else to watch.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
I was totally suprised by Safari's lack of anything new. It didn't give me any reason why I need another browser.

In addition, speaking of colors - it's d-mn ugly! The color schema is a white dog on a Vista desktop.

If I wanted a Mac, I'd a bought one. I bought an Alienware Sentia running Vista; I'd like my browser not to be the thing that looks like an 'Alien'. Ugh.
Posted by sal-magnone (162 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Makes me wonder...
Being an avid Safari user in OS X, it does make me wonder why
Apple made the color scheme of Safari so hideous on Vista. I
installed it on my Vista partition, and it is just way too dark and
muddy looking, not nearly as light and clean as it looks in OS X. I
don't think it's just a matter of monitor calibration either.

Apple needs to make it look a lot nicer before bringing it out of
Posted by jelloburn (252 comments )
Link Flag
does anyone know if Firefox 3.0 or Safari is designed for x64? The x64 version of IE7 is about 1 second faster than Firefox on some pages..
Posted by wone123 (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ahhh. Who cares?
Color management? Is that really a compelling reason to switch browsers? How about colorful and interesting borders? How about a secure and robust browser? No, no look at the pretty soothing colors. Give me a break.
Posted by drevman (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A lot of people
In the circles I play in: business brand building, website
development, game production, book publishing, photo share and
printing sites, and sales, marketing and PR, there are many millions
of people across the world who care very much.
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
256 colors
Then go back to surfing in 256 colors and ****.
Posted by wangbang (155 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good enough...
the typical Windows fan's attitude. You don't think it is imortant to
see things as they were intented? That attitude is quite telling.
Remember that every Mac user is so because they use or have used
Windows...basically there is no other reason. The whole experience
is something else on Macintosh. So if you like to bash Mac without
actually really using one and I don't mean piddling around with one
at BestBuy, then you have nothing to say about what sucks and
what doesn't. Ask any Mac user if they would go back to
Windows..."never!" is probably what you will hear.
Posted by pugscanfly (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
As mentioned above.
It's a typical CONSUMER attitude, not just Windows fans. Do you think the IPod would be as popular if you could only fit 15 songs on a 1Gig drive? Have you ever seen the quality of video on a phone? Yet, it's seems to be the next 'big thing' (even on the all powererful IPhone). If people really cared, Mac would have never lost dominance over M$ in the first place.

Note: I know many more ex-Mac users than ex-Windows users, and I haven't known one to go back yet.
Posted by DeathMagnet (249 comments )
Link Flag
Let's test your theory
Let's test your monitor first before you start going off on a rant that has nothing to do with the subject. I bet your monitor isn't calibrated- or that you have ever calibrated it with any of the color calibration tools that clamp to the monitor. They run in the $100-$500 range for consumer/low quality and $1000+ for professionals.

What if we find that your monitor isn't calibrated 100% accurate? Whose fault is that? I wouldn't be so quick to blame the OS or the video card or even the users of another OS. I might want to look at the monitor itself- or are you wiling to settle and call it 'good enough'?
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
Minor change for a small number of users
Most users don't have a color calibrated monitor so there's little chance they'll notice a difference.

This is a big deal to only a few users but it doesn't mean it's not needed, only that it's not going to be a huge improvement noticed by millions.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not True
One's monitor does not need to be calibrated to notice this sRGB
to RGB difference, especially when an image is tagged with an
ICC profile.

I make my living in the field of color management and correction
for the book industry and often distribute tagged PDF files in
this manner.

This is a very important change for the business community in
terms of improving brand "look/feel" consistency in sales and
marketing efforts.
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
A rose by any other name
Unless the world suddenly changes image formats and resolutions, that 72 dpi JPG web photo won't look any better on one particular OS or application. It's simply not going improve what isn't there in the first place.

A poor quality POS picture will *STILL* be a poor quality POS picture, but now in a few more colors that your eye can't detect and weren't in the original image file in the first place.

Perhaps if they introduce iSmell, then they can add something new. I must warn you though, some parts of the Net would need odor filters.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Errors in your post.
You should brush up on how the JPG image format encodes

JPG color space at 72 DPI is basically the same as the color space
of a JPG at higher resolutions. This is the value of JPG. Unless
the user reduces the color space, the color gamut remains very

Therefore, this browser color change is still very relevant for
online shoppers, business professionals preserving brand
identity in proofing, book publishers, marketing and sales
professionals and for those in dental and medical imaging.

I know, I do this exact thing every day, 5 days a week.

And we are not talking "a few more colors here." This is a very
misleading generalization. Having an RGB color space tagged
with an ICC profile is a HUGE improvement over sRGB.


Dan, your posts have matured and you have become a man of
facts: don't fail your evolution now by resorting to half educated

Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
Amazing Mac User
I am constantly amazed by the ignorance of the Mac users:

>> Mac browsers have been color manged (this is the term to use, btw C|Net) for years. Not just Safari. It's native to the OS, but it's also native for applications like Photoshop, Illustrators and others on PCs.

So, you really think that there's no color profile management on Windows, and applications like PhotoShop, Illustrators and others on non-Mac platforms, right?

I won't correct you, frankly. Your brain deserved to be manipulated by Steve Jobs.
Posted by Pixelslave (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
System-level, System-wide color management
OS X has color management built in to the OS. It is not an add on, a level above the system like Windows.

OS X manages color on a system level and system wide with any application that is ICC profile aware. It can also communicate with devices like digital cameras and displays. If it is a digital display, OS X will create an acceptable profile for it. It can always be tweaked.

Take the time to understand how each OS handles color management and you will see the difference. They are working on a solution for Vista so that it can manage color better. Then you will probably see IE someday have the ability to read and understand color tags.

Even though we Mac users may be very ignorant, OS X is very smart.
Posted by HeyFriends (12 comments )
Link Flag
IE does not color manage
Of course Windows has ICC Color Management which is relevant for
the Adobe Suite and other Apps.

IE does not however.

Safari does.

If you understand color management, you know this to be true.
Reread the article.
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
Story needs new title
Microsoft fanboys are running scared and making up excuses as to
why IE is better. Just face it Microsoft is dead. No one cares about
them any more. Its been knocked off its pedestal by a company
that gives a rip about usability vs. profit margins.

Safari for Windows seems to be doing just fine at reading and
commenting on this article.
Posted by rjpotts (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Safari 3.0.1 Issues On Windows XP
So Apple touts a Windows XP SP2 compatible web browser called Safari 3.0.1 Beta (for now) but the darn thing doesn't look right when I run it. All the text is transposed: a=c, b=d, c=e, etc. I've uninstalled, reinstalled, and nothing works. I even tried to install Safari on my Vista Home Premium PC and it won't install. I keep getting an error message which tells me the installation terminated with errors. What the heck! And here I thought Safari was available for Windows XP and Vista. I guess the laughs on me. Anyone have any ideas why this is happening?
Posted by don9307 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
all jokes aside. I think that there is something else on your box
that is causing the problems. I'm running Safari 3.0.1 on
Windows XP Pro SP2, on a Dell Latitude D820. 256MB of Video
RAM, 2 GB of RAM. Its a development box so I'm running all
kinds of other crap on it.

I'm having no issues with running it on my system. Are you
running the latest version of QuickTime? I don't think that
should make a difference, but I already had it installed on my XP
system and have not tried to install it on a system without

I don't have a Vista box to test it out on. But I'm not surprised if
you have issues with it on Vista. Not because of Safari but
because of all the software compatibility issues I've heard Vista

Just my two cents.
Posted by rjpotts (70 comments )
Link Flag
Safari XP
I am typing this reply using Safari, on Windows XP Home Edition,
Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop.<p>I have had a couple of hangups,
but they have yet to reach the count of six yet. There
<i>are</i> bugs.<p>However, this is the first report I've heard
of transposed characters. The only way, what you to describe, to
even be possible, would for the text rendering engine to be
changing ASCII, and UNICODE bytes by one bit. This problem
would have been reported <i>universally</i>. Nice try,
however I cannot possibly know whether or not the rest of what
you said to be true.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
Not the best test image
The image on the ICC web page looks horrible when I viewed it with Safari for Windows. Using both CRT and LCD. Maybe I'm supposed to go through some sort of color calibration first, but there's no such option in Safari. Or maybe they should use a better quality image.

It's not really the colors--they're show up okay. But at least from what I'm seeing, there's a lot of compression artifacts and blurriness. To be honest, it looks more like a badly color-profiled GIF image, than one with millions of colors.

So, based solely on what I'm seeing here, I don't see how this would be better than your typical sRGB JPEG.
Posted by brief (186 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think that the
test image does what its intended to do. As they explained on
the website they have divided it into four different images (the
quadrants) and applied different compression standards to each

Its not expected that the image would like perfect/flawless when
rendered in Safari just that the colors would render correctly.
Each compression algorithm is going to change the image
slightly. I think that some of these algorithms are going to look
better at different resolutions and are not intended to be blown
up to that large a scale.

Which makes sense because you don't want to load large images
into your web browser, at the same time you do not want to
lose the color quality and clarity when compressing the images
into smaller file sizes for the web.

The example is setup just to show how the color is preserved
using the different compression types. Keeping the image
sharpness and clarity falls under a different set of functionality.

I think that would make for a good store as to how well the
different compressions formats render in terms of sharpness,
clarity, and speed under Safari vs the other browsers.
Posted by rjpotts (70 comments )
Link Flag
reporter responds: imange only for testing color
The ICC images are indeed very highly compressed. That's a completely separate issue from whether the color is displayed correctly, though. If you want to see some differences with a nicer image, try taking a look here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.gballard.net/psd/go_live_page_profile/embeddedJPEGprofiles.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.gballard.net/psd/go_live_page_profile/embeddedJPEGprofiles.html</a>
Posted by Shankland (1858 comments )
Link Flag
As a Mac user, I like Safari since it's more intergraded with the OS.
However, Safari on windows is decent. Firefox will be better on the
crappy PC. I think that this was a bad idea on Apple's part by
releasing Safari for windows. Why not invest more time to make
Safari even better on the Mac, that way maybe people will switch,
bringing in the $$$$$$$$$$$$
Posted by owzark127 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I believe that they are
working to make Safari better on Mac. This is a beta for both
platforms. They are making modifications in tandem with

What is sad is that you all act like this is the first time Apple has
ever ported an application to Windows. They have had multiple
successes including AppleWorks, FileMaker Pro, QuickTime,
iTunes, and Bonjour for Windows. All of which seem to work
fine on Windows. Why do so many of you have so little faith that
the final product is going to be something good.

Nobody is asking you all to pay for it, or forcing you to download
it. You all act like Apple but a gun to your head and said
download it or else.

Instead of ******** you all should be thanking them for giving
you options, options that you don't have to pay for.
Posted by rjpotts (70 comments )
Link Flag
Over hyped
It looks good, but doesn't have a clean feel like opera, and it isn't as fast as it claims. It beats the hech out of IE, but Firefox or Opera easily beats it in performance
Posted by Kingnutin (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Not in Terms of Color
Which is the point of this article and thread.
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
Could care less about the colours
I use to Safari, and I couldn't care less about the colours.

The reason I like is because it is so fast.

When I was using it outstripped FF an IE7 in terms of speed, and thats what brought me over to it.
Posted by jatos (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you kidding??
sRGB is designed to accommodate the limited gamut of a display, Adobe RGB is recognizing the printing system has a wider gamut than the RGB display and is developed to represent a better printed color space. What's the point of expanding the color space to Adobe while the display system is currently incapable of handling more than sRGB and only simulate the looks of a Adobe printed results on screen. That is just pure hype and marketing non-sense!!
Posted by deecee (726 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You don't understand color and gamut
You have a total lack of knowledge as to how color works: Your
statement: "limited gamut of a display" is completely in error.

So is your statement: "Adobe RGB is recognizing the printing
system has a wider gamut than the RGB display and is developed
to represent a better printed color space."

This is both not true -- RGB is not a printing space -- it is a
display space. CMYK is a printing space.

RGB is a monitor display profile and the gamut is different than

The Color Gamut of a display exceed, by a considerable margin,
the gamut of a display.

Look it up.

You are dead wrong.
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
I think this is an insult to all of the millions of color blind people in the world! How dare Steve be so selfish as to add such a feature for those color seeing elitists! If he really cared about how people see color he'd donate some of his millions to fund research on a cure for color blindness!!!
Posted by kojacked (1129 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Welcome to 1999
Using Safari for WinXp is like using Netscape 4.x, it works but it is a little clunky.

The rendering and mapping of some of the home buttons are kind of a head scratcher.

I do applaud appple for finally releasing this cross platform, as so many other apps have done for years with the Mac OS.
Posted by Lite Rocker (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My apology to Dansterpower

I apologize for questioning the source of your information or if I sounded like I was attacking you personally. I'd like to put this all aside and treat you with respect.

What do you say?
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sure Dan, I apologive too.

Sure I agree and want to respect you as well.

I never intended any malice. Color management is just one of
my areas, Mac, PC, Online, or Print. Big part of what I do.

Was just trying to discuss color management usefulness in the
browser and its applications.

Never intended to disrespect you.

You submit many intelligent posts free from trolling and I
respect and appreciate that.

I apologize to you if I came across as disrespectful.

I am sorry.

Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox supports it eh? 6 years that is
I remember Apple in bad times itself trying to help Mozilla team
(the original) and even setting up special pages for colorsync
support at mozilla.org

For some reason , nerds took over that project decided colorsync
is sort of fantasy and luxury and left that way. BTW, if you still
see GIF around,that is because same kind of nerds decided
animated images are uncool so advertisers simply stayed on GIF
instead of MNG.

It took 6 years , 3 browser incarnations to re-support colorsync
which was there, for free! 60 votes...

Now, lets wait 6 more years to get browser roaming back, yes..
Netscape 4 feature still not supported because some nerds think
it is not cool.
Posted by Ilgaz (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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