As loyal followers of the Catchpoint blog are aware, we have been leading the charge for quite some time (a year ago to the day, to be exact) for Apple to release a version of Safari that supports a navigation timing API, even taking the time to create our own Change.org petition.

Today, our quest has finally been achieved.

Upon the release of the of the fourth edition of Safari 8 for OS X and iOS8, we were thrilled to discover that this version, while still in beta, included the all-important navigation timing API that means that Safari now joins the rest of the browser giants like Chrome, IE, Firefox, and Opera (although it still does not support resource timing).

navigation timing safari

The importance of this development to the IT industry is massive. With the consistent growth of Real User Measurement as a tool to optimize user experience on the internet, and navigation timing being the primary method for achieving that goal, the possibility for developers to now understand how Safari users (who account for over a quarter of all internet traffic) means that DevOps professionals now have a far more complete, granular insight into user experience than ever before.

Prior to this, a significant blind spot existed when trying to understand web performance on Safari, as all we could do was measure the difference between the time that a page started rendering and when it was completed. Now with Safari’s navigation timing, we can monitor metrics such as DNS connect, Response, Wait Time, Load Time, and a host of other data points (seen in the left-hand column below) that were unavailable under the old heuristic model (right-hand column).

nav timing vs. heuristic
Metrics with navigation timing (left) vs. heuristic (right)

The effect will have an especially big impact when looking at mobile users, as Apple’s combined presence across smartphones and tablets means that Safari comprised a whopping 59.1% of mobile browser traffic as of April of this year. And as we all know, with mobile browsing overtaking desktop in the past year and continuing to grow, the ability to glean insight into the mobile users’ experience is invaluable to those of us who are committed to optimizing everyone’s web performance.

 

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Author Craig Lowell

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