Apple has released Java 1.4.1, the new version of its Java implementation for OS X.

The 26.1MB update offers improved Java applet support for Safari and other browsers supporting the Java Internet plug-in. The update also brings Apple's implementation up-to-date with the latest version of Java from Sun.

It introduces "hundreds" of new features, Apple claims. These include built-in support for XML-based Web services, enhanced client functionality and improved performance and reliability. Java applications also take better advantage of Aqua and Quartz Extreme once the update is installed, Apple claims.

Scrolling and user interface elements are faster and more responsive, Apple says. Certificates used in signing applets are now stored directly into the Mac OS X Keychain.

A note on Apple's Java Web site claims: "On other platforms, each Java application consumes some system memory. So you might end up using more memory than you need to when running multiple Java applications."

Apple has developed a new technology for its implementation of Java that allows Java code to be shared across multiple applications. This serves to reduce the memory hunger of Java applications and is compatible with Sun's Java standard. "Apple has given this implementation to Sun so the company can deploy it on other platforms," the company says.

Additional features include: full useage of the Java applications built-in to the universal Access features of OS X 10.2; control of Java applications through AppleScript, using the new user interface scripting technology from Apple.

The update is available using Mac OS X's Software Update feature and also for direct download from Apple's Web site.