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Apple Safari 5.01 Fixes Security, Adds Extensions

An update to Apple's Safari Web addresses longstanding complaints about the difficulty of Safari plugin development.

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In an effort to make Safari more secure and more competitive with other modern Web browsers, Apple on Wednesday released Safari 5.01.

Safari 5.01 addresses 15 security vulnerabilities, one of which -- an AutoFill information disclosure flaw -- was publicly disclosed last week.

But the primary purpose of the updated software is to enable Safari Extensions, a new framework for browser extensions based on HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

As with Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera, developers have long been able to write extensions or plugins for Safari. But prior to Safari 5.0, the process was not easy. It required some degree of proficiency in Cocoa and Objective-C.

That changed with the introduction of Safari 5.0 in June at Apple's developer conference. Apple developers can now sign up to create Safari Extensions using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript and submit them to Apple for inclusion in Apple's Safari Extensions Gallery.

Unlike iOS apps submitted to the Apple's iTunes App Store, Safari Extensions do not have to survive a formal content-based review process.

That's not to say Apple will necessarily include every Safari Extension submitted -- the developer agreement says Apple has complete discretion over inclusion. But the Safari Extension Gallery only points Safari users to the Web sites of extension developers. Apple is unlikely to be as concerned about external content as it is about content on its servers.

The Safari developer agreement only stipulates that Safari Extensions should not be malicious, violate the law, override Apple interface elements or utilize open-source software in a way that would impose a licensing restriction on Apple.

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