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Apple’s controversial Safari redesign is now optional in the latest iPadOS 15 beta

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Enable the new (bad) tab experience in settings

Apple’s current tab design squashes tabs and the search window into a single row.

Apple has started trickling out its fourth iOS and iPadOS 15 betas, taking additional steps back from the bold, and somewhat ill-advised reimagining of Safari it debuted at WWDC 2021. Now the “compact” tab experience in nu-Safari is entirely optional, and the more traditional separate row of tabs that were reintroduced in the third macOS Monterey beta are heading to iPads.

Like in macOS Monterey (and every version of Apple’s desktop OS in recent history), tabs will once again live in their own separate row by default, alleviating some of the crowding that made Apple’s initial compact redesign annoying. The tab experience is now also controlled via a toggle in the Settings app, so if you’re committed to Apple’s original vision, you can enable it with a tap. You can see how the new settings option looks in this screenshot shared by Federico Viticci.

Tabs now live in their own dedicated row by default in the fourth beta.
Image: Federico Viticci
The new Safari tab options in Settings.
Image: Federico Viticci

On iOS 15, the fourth beta also includes the return of the dedicated Reload button, one-tap access to Safari’s Reader mode, and a Share button, according to 9to5Mac.

These kinds of changes are what beta tests are for, and this all could entirely change again before the fall, but it is somewhat notable that this is the second major tweak Apple’s made to the new Safari. The company’s dealt with criticism over its design changes in the past (like iOS 7’s flat UI) but making tabs “normal” again by default does seem to suggest that on at least one element of the new Safari, Apple knows it got it wrong.