How Safari Pretended to Be Mozilla Before It Was Released

by

NewImageFormer Apple employee Don Melton is sharing a unique look behind the scenes of the Safari development team. Melton was the team leader on both the Safari and WebKit products that are now used by millions of users on both iOS, the Mac, and Windows.

Previously, Melton explained how the Safari name came about, but today he shares the tale of Safari's User Agent string and the strategies his team used to keep the project under wraps.

Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist then. Nobody at Apple was stupid enough to blog about work, so what was I worried about?

Server logs. They scared the hell out of me.

When a Web browser fetches a page from a Web server, the browser identifies itself to that server with a user agent string — basically its name, version, platform, etc. The browser also gives the server an IP address so the server knows where to return the page. This exchange not only makes the Web work, it also allows the server to tell who is using what browser and where they’re using it.

You can see where this is going, right? But wait, there’s more…

Back around 1990, some forward-thinking IT person secured for Apple an entire Class A network of IP addresses. That’s right, Apple has 16,777,216 static IP addresses. And because all of these addresses belong together — in what’s now called a “/8 block” — every one of them starts with the same number. In Apple’s case, the number is 17.

IP address 17.149.160.49? That’s Apple. 17.1.2.3? Yes, Apple. 17.18.19.20? Also, Apple. 17.253.254.255? Apple, dammit!

I was so screwed.

Melton's blog has the rest of the details about how his team kept things quiet before the big reveal.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
102 months ago
So, he hid Safari as being Mozilla, by changing the user agent string. MAN THIS IS ONE HELL OF A FASCINATING REVEAL

Also, Safari is the best browser out there now, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that there was nobody in the industry that cared when it was released except the Apple fans
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
102 months ago
I like how the MR article mentions "Mozilla" nowhere except for the title. Reading the MR article itself doesn't tell you at all that they masked Safari as any Mozilla product. That's some quality writing right there!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
102 months ago
THIS is why I love Apple. Just a bunch of geeks running a company. Now I Cant say Mr. Cook is much of a geek. But the ones who do everything to run apple, are.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
102 months ago
It´s interesting the fact that he says Scott Forstall was a great boss.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
102 months ago
Safari was a pain in the neck in it's early versions before becoming the gold standard in Mac web browsers. I've been a Safari advocate for years now.

Version 6, however, is infuriating. The reload-on-back behavior is unacceptable. I use the trackpad or Magic Mouse to swipe back a page, and the animation looks great, but the fact that it forces a reload of the page, delays me while it reloads, and often puts me at the top of the page is a real detractor. I'm trying to deal with it until something changes, but I may need to hop ship to an inferior browser if this basic functionality is not addressed.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
102 months ago

It has been common knowledge that apple owns the 17 class A block since forever. This is not a new revelation for those of us who have been apple followers for 20+ years.


You need to learn what "common knowledge" means :rolleyes:
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Pro Demand Higher Than Expected

Sunday October 18, 2020 10:39 pm PDT by
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note this morning detailing what he's seen with the volume of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders in the first weekend of sales. Kuo had previously indicated that Apple's estimated shipment allocations for the new iPhone models placed the iPhone 12 at the top with 40-45% of inventory allocation (up from 15-20%). However, ...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12

Monday October 19, 2020 11:54 am PDT by
Alongside the new iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a MagSafe charger that attaches to the back of the iPhones using magnets embedded both in the charger and in the iPhone. It allows for speedier charging and paves the way for a portless iPhone in the future. MagSafe chargers are shipping out and are in some Apple retail locations now, and we picked one up to check it out. Subscribe to the ...

Some Apple Watch SE Owners Experiencing Issues With Overheating [Updated]

Monday October 19, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
There may be an issue with the new Apple Watch SE, which some users have found is overheating after a few hours of usage. Several Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea have run into problems, as noted in a Reddit post chronicling the complaints. There have been six reports from Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea who have had their Apple Watches get hot and malfunction, with a yellow spot...

Apple's New MagSafe Charger and Cases Begin Arriving to Customers

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:10 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe charger and cases have begun arriving to some customers earlier than expected, and images of the accessories have started to surface on Twitter. The photos provide a first look at the products in real-world use. As of writing, some MagSafe cases are also available for pickup at select Apple Stores in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. Filip...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Apple Plans to Enable 5G in Dual SIM Mode With Software Update Later This Year

Monday October 19, 2020 9:20 am PDT by
iPhone XS models and newer feature both a physical SIM slot and a digital eSIM, allowing for a feature known as dual SIM, dual standby. This means you can have two lines of service on one iPhone, which is useful for purchasing data-only plans while traveling abroad or having personal and business lines on a single iPhone. 5G will not be available in Dual SIM mode on the iPhone 12 and iPhone...

Brazilian Certifications Suggest iPhone 12 Mini Features 2,227mAh Battery and iPhone 12 Has 2,815mAh Battery

Friday October 16, 2020 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone mini has the shortest battery life out of all the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup due to its small size, but Apple has not provided public information about the battery's capacity. A regulatory filing from Brazil, however, suggests the iPhone 12 mini has a battery capacity of 2,227mAh. The same regulatory information says the iPhone 12 features a 2,815mAh battery, which is...