Safari 6 hits Lion with Smart Search Field and Offline Reading List

Hot on the heels of the OS X Mountain Lion release that just hit Apple’s servers an hour ago, Cupertino today unleashed Safari 6 for Lion, bringing some of Safari’s features from Mountain Lion to Lion systems.

Most notably, Safari 6 now (finally!) features a unified field which acts as both the address bar and search field, akin to Chrome’c Omnibox. Also new is Offline Reading List, first introduced in iOS 6, which downloads entire webpages saved for reading later so you can access them when offline…

Other highlights of this update include a Do Not Track feature to send the websites you visit a request not to track you online, a new Password pane where you can manage your saved website logins (can we have this in iOS 6, please?) and a built-in Baidu search option for Chinese users.

Looks like a solid update for Lion users, even if it lacks some Mountain Lion-specific capabilities such as the Share button, iCloud tabs, speeded up Javascript engine, improved hardware acceleration for super smooth scrolling and faster web page rendering and great new Tab View that lets you use multitouch gestures to quickly switch between open tabs.

I guess you’ll have to upgrade to Mountain Lion to enjoy the aforementioned benefits.

Other under-the-hood changes make the swipe to navigate gesture work with PDFs, restore the state of Reading List when Safari is launched, fix an issue that affected full screen video in webpages that have positioned content and restore the user’s previous cookies after Private Browsing without requiring a Safari relaunch.

More information is available in Apple’s support document.

Also interesting, Apple’s Safari download page doesn’t show the new version as available to Windows users (yet).

By the way, if your current Safari installation uses Olivier Poitrey’s Safari Omnibar tweak that adds unified search field functionality, you’ll want to remove it by trashing the /Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins/SafariOmnibar.bundle file prior to running Software Update.

The biggest news for me?

The unified search field – this has been a way overdue feature.

What do you guys think?