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Windows 8.1 announcements at Build 2014

Windows 8.1 announcements at Build 2014

Today Microsoft officially announced upcoming features for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 at the Build developer conference in San Francisco.

The Windows Phone 8.1 update introduces the Action Center, a slide-down panel for notifications and phone activity similar to what's available for iOS and Android. The update brings customizable notification settings for developers, including app-specific triggers for vibration and sound.

Another big update is the introduction of Cortana, Microsoft's personal assistant powered by the Bing search engine. Though the keynote demo had some hiccups, Cortana's voice recognition shows a lot of progress and … Read more

Star Apps: 'NCIS: Los Angeles'

Star Apps: 'NCIS: Los Angeles'

On CBS's "NCIS: Los Angeles," the running and gunning are great, but now and then it's nice to get a little comic relief from the show's resident techies, Eric Beale and Nell Jones, played by Barrett Foa and Renée Felice Smith.

Barrett, you have a theatrical background, and Renee has a comedy background. How does that play into your roles on "NCIS: Los Angeles"? Barrett Foa: Good question. I think that we kind of bring a fun, goofy, comedic vibe to the proceedings, which is a great foil for all the … Read more

Star Apps: David X. Cohen

Star Apps: David X. Cohen

When David X. Cohen was in graduate school, he hit the proverbial fork in the road. The Harvard graduate had a degree in physics and was studying theoretical computer science at U.C. Berkeley. Would he opt for a career in mathematics and computer science or take a gamble and become a comedy writer? Fortunately for "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" fans, he took the comedy route. Now an expert in three disciplines, Cohen will chat about the intersection of math, technology, and comedy writing at Moogfest 2014 (April 23-27).

Talk to us about your appearance at … Read more

Unity CEO David Helgason foretells the future of gaming

Unity CEO David Helgason foretells the future of gaming

Unity builds technology to help developers build games. At GDC 2014, I chatted with the CEO of Unity, David Helgason. The gaming innovator previewed some of the latest Unity 5 features that developers will be able to use, including improvements in lighting effects and audio mixing.

Games that use Unity:

Dead Trigger (Android)

Device 6 (iOS)

Spruce up your PC for spring with these top apps

Spruce up your PC for spring with these top apps

Every machine needs tune-ups, and that includes your PC. Without regular cleaning and updates, your system performance suffers, slowed down by hefty files and unneeded software. Fortunately, many fine -- and free! -- utilities can do the system spring cleaning for you. Here's a roundup of our favorites.

CCleaner

CCleaner is one of our go-to, no-nonsense Registry cleaners. It scans your PC for junk files, unnecessary Registry entries, and unused cookies. It's good practice to run these scans at least once a month.

Revo Uninstaller

Revo Uninstaller is an alternate uninstallation utility for Windows. What it lacks in … Read more

Microsoft Office for iPad unveiled

Microsoft Office for iPad unveiled

Today Microsoft released Office for the iPad. New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella held a press conference in San Francisco to reveal the long-awaited -- some would say overdue -- suite of apps for the tablet.

The Office apps are standalone -- you download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint separately, and each has an icon on your iPad. The apps are also free, but you can only view documents. To edit, you must have an Office 365 subscription ($9.99 per month for home, $5-$15 per month for business). With Office 365, you can also sync your files across the cloud. … Read more

Facebook acquires Oculus VR

Facebook acquires Oculus VR

On Tuesday Facebook announced that it has completed an agreement to acquire the immersive virtual-reality tech company Oculus VR for $2 billion. Oculus VR is known for the Oculus Rift, a high-definition headset with motion-tracking capabilities and 3D display, which has been reaching record popularity in the game-development scene. The company recently came to GDC 2014 to showcase the second iteration of its Oculus development kit.

"Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow," said Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "Oculus has the chance to create … Read more

Google speeds WebP image format, brings animation support to Chrome

Google speeds WebP image format, brings animation support to Chrome

Google has built a new version of its WebP software into Chrome to let browsers display its image format 25 percent faster, the company said Friday.

The better performance new libwebp 0.4.0 is part of Google's general effort to speed up the Web, and the new software also uses less memory and fixes an issue that had blocked Google from supporting animated WebP images. The updated WebP support is built into the version of Chrome that's currently in beta.

Animated GIF images, popular on sites such as Tumblr and Imgur, are the last remaining holdout for … Read more

Use Link Bubble to open links in the background on Android

Use Link Bubble to open links in the background on Android

While many apps are starting to display in-line media (showing content of a link without opening a new window), this capability isn't omnipresent across Android. Instead, when catching up on one of your feeds, like Twitter, you have to click the link, and then wait for it to load in Chrome. Link Bubble is an app that seeks to bridge the gap between your apps and the Web by letting you queue up a link to read when you're finished catching up on social media or RSS feeds. It's similar to when you open tabs in the … Read more