The Download Blog

Bombs away and touch-screen artistry: iPhone apps of the week

You may have already read on CNET News about how artist Jorge Colombo managed to get his work on the cover of The New Yorker. To have your art featured on the cover of a widely read national magazine is a big deal, but the coolest thing about it was that it was done with an application for the iPhone.

This week's apps include the cool painting app that was used to make The New Yorker cover and a game where you pilot a bomber high over the landscape.

Brushes ($3.99 for limited time) is an easy-to-use painting … Read more

Hulu Labs debuts with desktop app

Blurring the line between computer and TV just a tad more, video-streaming site Hulu puts its content front and center with a new desktop app for Windows and Mac. Introduced via Hulu's new Labs testing bed, Hulu Desktop is one of four new apps in Labs. The other three include a Video Panel designer for customizing the look of Hulu embeds, a recommendations list, and original air date-based browsing--but Hulu Desktop is the only one available for download.

There are some stringent limitations to getting the desktop client to run properly, although if your system meets their standards, you'… Read more

Google Reader widget brings RSS to the desktop

Users of Google's Desktop software have a new first party widget to play with. This one lets you use most of Google Reader's features without having to fire up your browser. It puts Google Reader's source list in your sidebar where you can peruse feeds you're subscribed to and read individual stories in a small pop-up window that slides out across your screen.

The widget works both in Google Desktop's dock and "popped out" on its own. Between the two, I prefer it off the dock since you can see more of the … Read more

Preview tiny URLs in Firefox

Tiny URLs are often used in e-mail, Twitter, and other places to shorten a long URL into a much more convenient, short version. They're those little URLs that say tinyurl.com/pkp9cl or bit.ly/pTe77 or some such thing.

But there's a security risk there. You don't know where that URL is going. It could be a map, or the pictures of your friend's vacation. Or it could be a malicious Web site that hijacks your computer installs a Trojan and keylogger, and you never even know. You just think the Web site's broken. … Read more

Opera: Single-minded about widget development

Jon von Tetzchner is the chief executive of the Norwegian browser company Opera. (Download for Windows and Mac.) Although Opera first became known for its desktop product, the company has also become well known for its Opera Mini handset-based Web browser.

Opera has become heavily involved in the development of standards for widgets--the lightweight, Web-based applications that are starting to become prevalent on new handsets. It has also been working hard on the development of HTML 5, which has more built-in rich media functionality than the current version of the Web standard.

ZDNet UK caught up with von Tetzchner at the Wireless '09 event in London on Wednesday to discuss standards processes and how Flash may soon become unnecessary.

Q: Tell us about the work Opera has been doing with widget standards. Von Tetzchner: We work mostly through the W3C, which is where the widget standard per se is being worked on. The widget standard (as far as it has been established) is more about the packaging--on the relation of how you connect to the underlying device, it hasn't been standardized fully. Bondi is trying to standardize that, and we have engaged with Bondi and with (the Joint Innovation Labs). (Editors' note: Bondi is a Web/widget specification endorsed by the LiMo Foundation.)

There are already quite a few initiatives, and there is a risk of fragmentation, and obviously our goal is always to try to make things migrate...to a single standard. Sometimes, on the way, people are eager to get started, but we try to engage as much as possible to make sure that this gets standardized in a way that works for everyone.

What does Opera gain from these widget standards bodies? Von Tetzchner: I don't want to say this is a philosophical thing for us, but we do believe the Internet is too important to be limited. There is a significant risk of the fragmentation of technology. It'll be like on the PC: you'll write an application for a platform, and it will only run on that platform. We're already seeing some of this (in widget development), where Web technologies may be in the mix. But you're mixing all those things in, and suddenly you have to write for the platform instead of for the technology.

Our goal is to try and make this work because we believe that's the right thing to do. We've seen the benefits of this from the PC side, where there are differences between the different operating systems, but you can still run all the applications. That's the benefit of having things standardized.

We have a lot of people that know how to write standards, how to implement standards and how to engage in the standards bodies. We have the biggest active group in the W3C to do just that. Considering that our competitors tend to be a lot bigger than us, that shows our commitment to this. … Read more

How to back up e-mail to an online account

I blogged about Gmail's new feature that helps you migrate from other Web-based e-mail services to Gmail and I have received a lot of e-mails asking if there's a way to back up an offline POP3 e-mail archive to an online e-mail service.

The answer is yes, but depending on what e-mail clients you use, it can require a fair amount of work. If you're using Outlook Express, for example, it's fairly easy. If you use Thunderbird, however, there will be a few extra steps.

First, you will need a Hotmail account, if you don't … Read more

Robot synthesizer and touch-screen hack and slash: iPhone apps of the week

I read about a new term today for iPhone application fans that hits a little too close to home. The term is "Appnoxious," and describes iPhone owners who are always whipping out their iPhone to show their friends, family, or coworkers their favorite new app. Ahem.

I apologize to everyone, but I believe I might be just that: Appnoxious. In my defense, it's my job to seek out and find new iPhone apps, so I'm hoping at least some of the people I know will give me a pass? Maybe I should just embrace it...

This … Read more

TuneUp your iTunes music library

If you are an iTunes fan with a large library of music, chances are you have several songs with missing tags and cover art. Most people get their music from a number of sources, making it inevitable that some of your music doesn't have the right tags. While you could go in and fill in the genre, album name, and artist fields by hand, a huge library would take a long time to get through--not to mention all the time it would take searching for all the missing album artwork.

TuneUp Companion (Windows or Mac) is a plug-in for … Read more

Videos of Apple's Snow Leopard taken off YouTube

Apple on Tuesday used a copyright infringement claim to have seven videos, showing features of Snow Leopard removed from YouTube.

As it does with all of its unreleased products, Apple has managed to keep a pretty tight lid on the upcoming version of Mac OS X, code-named Snow Leopard. However, on Monday, at least seven videos were posted to the popular YouTube video service.

The videos showed a number of features, including Stacks, QuickTime, the Dock, the Snow Leopard Welcome Movie, QuickLook, and the Finder Preferences.

Six of the seven videos on Tuesday say they have been removed by the … Read more

Flock 2.5 launches with support for Twitter, more services

Statistically, Flock is probably not for you. This Web browser, the 2.5 version of which is coming out today for Windows and Mac, is "designed to be the essential browser for the most active 25 percent of users," Flock CEO Shawn Hardin tells me.

You don't generally see browser makers designing their products to not be used by the majority of Web surfers, but this is typical Flock: it's a browser designed for not just Web surfers, but Web crackheads. So far, 7.5 million people have downloaded the browser, and about 1.1 million … Read more