The Download Blog

New Firefox extension turns into illegal free-for-all

A new Firefox extension called Pirates of the Amazon lets users download movies, games, TV shows, and MP3s free of charge by cross referencing Amazon's product pages with torrent files from the Pirate Bay.

If the content can be found on the Pirate Bay's search index it shows up as a "Download 4 Free" link on the top of the Amazon product page. This links directly to the hosted .torrent tracker file, letting the user avoid having to make a purchase from Amazon in place of acquiring it illegally via BitTorrent.

The extension developer's site, … Read more

Amazon Mobile now ringing up sales on iPhone

On Wednesday, Amazon announced the throwing open of its virtual doors to iPhone and iPod Touch users everywhere with Amazon Mobile, a free app now available in the iTunes App Store.

It's a pretty nice offering that simplifies the search experience for products found not just on, but also on partner retailers Target and Macy's.

The bulk of the app is dominated by a search bar you can launch either from the home screen or from a separate Search screen. While there's a tiny promo area on Amazon Mobile's home screen, the app completely … Read more

iPhone app promo codes trickle out

On Tuesday, the first promotional codes that will make iPhone apps free to some users began trickling out of the App Store.

Apple is finally bequeathing apps developers with a way to let some media testers review an app at no expense and reward or attract a few lucky users. (The first invite has already floated into my in-box.)

This is Apple, so there are limits. Fifty promotional codes per product, to be exact.

Also, as wonderful as it is to see the passcodes allowed and implemented, they are not free trials. Developers angling to hook new customers will still … Read more

Vlingo one-ups Google with a better voice-powered iPhone app

Voice-transcription service Vlingo has launched a really fantastic new iPhone application (download) that lets users talk into their phones to search the Web, dial contacts, and update their status on Twitter and Facebook. Much like Google's iPhone app which was released early last month, users are able to do all this without ever having to use their keyboard.

The big difference between Google's efforts and Vlingo's is the addition of Yahoo search, meaning users can pick the search engine of their choice. You're also able to auto-dial contacts by speaking their name. This, along with speech-to-text … Read more

Featured Freeware: Advanced System Protector Personal

This spyware remover looks good and offers security fundamentals, but its efficacy is hard to judge on a clean or already-secure system. Advanced System Protector aims to rid your machine of spyware and malicious software, and it's generally a pretty thing to watch. The interface has a classy bar of tabs across the top, although the central pane feels a bit cluttered by deviating from the design scheme with a big, green Start Scan Now button.

Below that, there are three choices for the type of scan: Quick, Deep, and Custom. The Quick scan took about 23 minutes, while … 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

Zagat on iPhone: 'A disappointment' die-hards will still 'love'

Despite being a fan of Zagat's restaurant surveys, I've never been overly impressed with the mobile applications for Windows Mobile Smartphone and PocketPC, BlackBerry, and Palm.

Regrettably, Zagat To Go '09 for the iPhone and iPod Touch ($9.99 per year) isn't markedly different.

The components to a great mobile app are all there--venerable content, click-to-call, a Web site link, OpenTable reservations for some restaurants, and search and sorting filters--but the whole is somehow less than the sum of its parts.

Stability is a major concern, the app cries for an in-app browser, and Zagat To Go … Read more

Gmail comes to the desktop in gadget form

Google has put out an official Gmail gadget for its Google Desktop product, giving users the option to run multiple instances of different Gmail accounts as standalone gadgets. The tool includes several useful Gmail features like keyboard shortcuts, mail, and contact search, along with the option to star messages. Users can also compose messages in a little pop-out window, which keeps them from having to fire up their browser.

The app is currently Windows-only and requires Google Desktop version 5 or higher, leaving Mac and Linux users of Google Desktop out in the cold. Anyone looking to use Amnesty's Generator programRead 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