Apple removes Java applet plugin from OS X, continuing push for plugin-free web

Further pushing toward the idea of a plugin-free internet, Apple has issued an update to Java for OS X that removes the Java applet plugin. Attempting to use a Java applet through any OS X web browser will now prompt users to download the latest version directly from Java maker Oracle.

This is not the first time Apple has stopped shipping a specific browser plugin with their computers. With OS X Lion, users discovered that their Macs no longer came with Adobe’s oft-derided Flash Player plugin due to its instability and security issues. Apple has long held browser plugins in contempt, especially following the success of iOS, which hasn’t supported browser plugins at all in the past six years.

Just about every Mac Trojan/vulnerability over recent months and years has been related to outdated Java code. This move should close off those attack vectors.

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Apps & updates: Podcasts, AutoCAD WS, Opera Mini, BBC iPlayer, more

We already had a number of updates to Apple’s own apps today, including iWork for iOS, Apple Remote Desktop, iTunes U, Xcode 4.4, Safari 6, and OS X Server, but below is our usual list of popular apps and updates hitting the store today:

Update: Apple has now updated its Podcasts app with the expected bug fixes. Release notes below:

What’s New in Version 1.0.1

Podcasts 1.0.1 provides a number of improvements, including:

• Significant improvements to performance and stability
• Podcasts in your library now show the number of unplayed episodes
• Top Stations now show the podcast title if artwork is missing
• Playback speed is now remembered when playing the next episode
• Fix for a problem where the Subscribe button is inactive
• Resolution of an issue where Top Stations artwork may not appear

Podcasts: If you have experienced issues with Apple’s Podcasts iOS app that released last month, as many have, you will be happy to know Apple plans to release an update today that brings a number of fixes to common bugs. According to a report from AllThingsD, Apple has been hard at work tweaking the app to fix the problems that currently plague it” and the update expected today should “vastly improve it.” 

AutoCAD WS version 1.5: Autodesk’s app for viewing, editing, and sharing AutoCAD drawings on iOS devices was updated today with two new “powerful collaboration tools that transform design creation, review, and approval into a social experience.” The two features include:
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PhotoBeamer: Imaging tech company Scalado introduces first iOS app; beam photos to any browser

You may not be familiar with the name Scalado, but there is a good chance you have used one of its imagining technologies without even knowing it. The company’s photo applications helped power camera and image apps for over 10 years, and they are currently baked in to 1.5 billion phones (adding about 500 million mobile phones every year). Most recently, we revealed Scalado’s Rewind technology is integrated into BB10′s camera app, and Scalado is introducing its first iOS app today called “PhotoBeamer“, which we have tested over the past month.

While it usually works directly with OEMs, the company recently released its first app directly to users late last month as an Android-only photo viewer called “Scalado Album“. The new iOS app, PhotoBeamer, serves to quickly and wirelessly display photos stored on your iOS device to any display with a web browser.

We already have a ton of third-party apps for transferring and viewing photos from iOS devices to a bigger screen. Even Apple’s own Photo Stream feature makes things easy for accessing photos on your other iOS devices and almost as easy on your Mac, and iPhoto’s beam feature allows for wireless sharing of images between iOS devices. Getting images to our other devices is not a problem, but PhotoBeamer’s zero-configuration, no registration, and extremely snappy, patented imaging tech might make it your go-to app.

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Google and other ad companies have been tricking iOS Safari into accepting ad cookies, regardless of security settings

Internet giant Google found itself in a middle of a potential public relations nightmare following a Wall Street Journal article this morning. Tentatively titled “Google’s iPhone Tracking,” the article asserts that “Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple Inc.’s Web browser on their iPhones and computers” to follow iPhone users even after they explicitly set Safari’s privacy controls to disable such tracking. According to authors Julia Angwin and Jennifer Valentino-Devries, Google used “special computer code that tricks Apple’s Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users.” Google apparently disabled the problematic code after the newspaper contacted the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company.

Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer discovered that although mobile Safari’s default setting blocks cookies from third parties and advertisers, Google and advertising companies Media Innovation Group, Vibrant Media, and Gannett PointRoll fooled mobile Safari into thinking “a person was submitting an invisible form to Google,” letting them in turn install a tracking cookie on users’ iPhones and PCs without consent.

Once a cookie installed, a Safari glitch allowed subsequent cookies to attach. Both Google and Apple issued statements following this morning’s report…

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Apple releases Safari 5.1.2, brings bug fixes

Apple has released Safari 5.1.2 to users this afternoon, available by direct download or by hitting up Software Update. The update is relatively minor, but brings along bug fixes that address issues of stability, extensive memory usage, fixing webpages that were flashing white, and now allows PDFs to be displayed within web content. Go ahead and download!

Improve stability
Address issues that could cause hangs and excessive memory usage
Address issues that could cause webpages to flash white
Allow PDFs to be displayed within web content

Safari posts stronger gains than Google’s Chrome in July

Although Chrome controls one-fifth of the global web browsing market and has overtaken Firefox as the second most-used browser in the UK, Google’s browser has been growing slower in absolute terms than Apple’s Safari in the month of July. In July, Chrome added .34 percentage points of market share for a 13.45 percent web usage share. In the same period, Safari grew .57 percentage points for a 8.05 percent web usage share in July, per latest Net Applications metrics. Apple’s and Google’s browser were the only ones growing (with the exception of the Other category), while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox ceded market share and had 52.81 and 21.48 percent web usage share.

A big factor: Apple just revamped its consumer MacBook Airs and Mac Minis as well as refreshing the Mac OS with Lion.

Of course, the numbers are not representative of the whole market because Net Applications derives stats from some 40,000 participating web sites, but they’re a good and fairly accurate indication of market trends.

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