The Download Blog

Google Earth browser plug-in arrives for Mac

Google has released a Mac OS X version of a plug-in that lets people use its Google Earth software as a browser plug-in.

The move means a smaller but significant crowd can rely on Web pages that employ the sophisticated aerial viewing options the software provides. But Mac fans should brace themselves for a 47MB download from the Google Earth API page.

The size is large because Google provided a universal binary file that runs on both PowerPC-based and Intel-based Macs, a Google representative said in a forum posting about the availability of the Mac version. "There are also … Read more

Apple deletes Mac antivirus suggestion

Updated 7:45 p.m. PST with expert comment, at 7:20 p.m. PST with context on previous coverage, and at 7:08 p.m. PST with background.

Apple removed an old item from its support site late Tuesday that urged Mac customers to use multiple antivirus utilities and now says the Mac is safe "out of the box."

"We have removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was old and inaccurate," Apple spokesperson Bill Evans said.

"The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out … Read more

Music and browsing take flight in Songbird

Music and browsing mashup Songbird has kicked the remnants of its shell to the curb. With the release of version 1.0.0 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, the program's main emphasis as a music browser couldn't be more clear.

If you looked at some of the earlier beta versions, Songbird's interface borrowed heavily from Firefox. More recent versions took their cue from iTunes, with Web browsing occurring in a second tab. Although toggling between your music library and the browser is as easy as switching tabs, since Songbird opens your library by default it's apparent … Read more

Google Calendar officially comes to Apple's iCal

Google on Monday formally announced full support for the CalDAV protocol along with the release of a small piece of software for Mac computers that lets users easily link up their Google Calendars with the iCal application.

Google had previously launched CalDAV support back in late July, however, consumers had to manually add their calendars directly to CalDAV-supporting applications like Mozilla Sunbird and Apple's iCal. The new Mac utility, named "Calaboration" simply lets users plug in their Google Calendar username and password to send Google calendars over to iCal. The benefit of doing this is the two-way … Read more

iPhone apps of the week

Before I get to this weeks apps, I found out about some bargain basement prices for a small selection of apps from Ambrosia Software. Aki Mahjong Mobile, Mondo Solitaire, and Mr. Sudoko are all on sale for 99-cents at the app store until November 30th (usually $9.99). If you have any interest in these games, now is the time to start downloading!

For this weeks apps, I'm including one free and one paid app.

The Weather Channel for iPhone and iPod touch offers a wealth of weather information beyond what you get from the free app that's … Read more

Featured Freeware: Twhirl

Built on Adobe AIR, Twhirl is a stand-out Twitter service that rolls the functionality of many ancillary services into one. For example, Twhirl automatically posts TinyURLs in place of long URLs, sends photos to TwitPic, and searches for Twitter topics using a built-in TweetScan engine. In the settings, you can configure Twhirl to cross-post updates to Jaiku and Pownce, much like the service

Though cheery, the interface is also economical, providing extensive options for viewing and updating statuses and messages for all your Twitter and Friendfeed accounts without overcrowding the small screen. The preferences let you customize your … Read more

TextFlow makes multiple author edits less painful

TextFlow, a new way to collaboratively edit documents, is opening up to everyone Monday morning. Instead of going the real-time route like Zoho and Google Docs, the service opts to let a master editor corral multiple versions of the same Microsoft Word document inside of one file.

Each editor sends in a copy of the file (presumably via e-mail), and the master editor drags and drops all of them into a single bucket. The application then divides the edits into sections, letting the master editor pick whichever revisions make the most sense. When finished, he or she can convert it … Read more

Featured Freeware: AppTrap

Sometimes the best interface is no interface at all. Compared with other Mac uninstall programs, AppTrap is simplicity itself--and it really does seem to provide the uninstall functionality that Apple "forgot" in OS X.

AppTrap is not actually an app but rather a System Preference pane, which you install and then it runs in the background (and you can set AppTrap to automatically start at log-in). Whenever you drag an application to the Trash, AppTrap will prompt you to delete all the application's related files, including any files installed in that application's cache, library, or application … Read more

iPhone apps of the week

Note: The iPhone 2.2 firmware update is now available. Connect to iTunes to get all the details. My app update issue is fixed!

One of the great things about my job writing about iPhone apps is I sometimes get to look at what's coming up in the future for the iPhone. I was invited to a small gathering of developers and reviewers this week to see the latest games and apps from premiere software companies. The future of iPhone apps looks great.

While many of the apps were must-haves, one of the best of the bunch was a … Read more

Best iPod-compatible iTunes alternatives

For better or worse, buying an iPod also means committing to Apple's iTunes software. Apple's seamless combination of hardware, software, and online store has made it many fans, but for some folks, the iTunes way of doing things feels unbearably confining.

If you love your iPod, but can't stand being tied to iTunes, there are some compelling and capable Mac and PC iTunes alternatives that can sync with your iPod. Depending on your iPod model, you'll probably still need to keep iTunes around for firmware updates, video purchases, games, and some advanced features (calendar syncing, for instance), but there's no reason you can't sync your music and podcasts using a different program.

Each of the following media jukeboxes has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. This list isn't meant to be comprehensive (by all means, add your own suggestions in the comments section), I'm just taking an opportunity to highlight my personal favorites. Also, every application listed here is free, so there's no reason not to try them all and see what sticks.

Media Monkey (Download Media Monkey from

Ideal user: File hoarders, control freaks, meticulous taggers, boutique format users (FLAC, Ogg), people with messy collections.

Pros Ideal for large, scattered collections Advanced tagging features and auto tagging Supports iPhone 3G and iPod Touch 2G Copy songs from iPod to computer Album art lookup Skinnable Podcast catcher… Read more