The Download Blog

Zumobi and Squace: Read the mobile Web in squares

The widgets story has always locked icons and links in a race to recover your most-wanted data quickly and accurately. When it comes to cell phones, there's been no clear winner, only trade-offs. Mobile browsers such as Opera Mini and Skyfire promise rich desktop search augmented by straightforward links to favored sites, while well-designed widgets applications such as Yahoo Go supply clear paths to tightly-focused content, some of it user-customized.

Seattle-based Zumobi and Swedish newcomer Squace are two companies I spoke to this week that are pitching icons over links. On Wednesday, Zumobi announced a version update that gives … Read more

Firefox 3 final inches closer

For those of you waiting with bated breath for Firefox 3, Mozilla has just published Release Candidate 2 for Windows, Mac, Linux and Windows Portable. There are no new features to celebrate or examine: what we're looking at is pure, unadulterated bug fixing. Users can expect a somewhat more stable browser, with the regular mix of security tweaks and otherwise minor changes.

Full release notes can be read here.

First Look video: Spyware Terminator

Spyware removal, real-time protection, and integrated antivirus for free? These compelling ingredients form the siren song of Spyware Terminator. Digging out spyware is the security tool's chief job description, but the application also adds real-time blocking and integrates the free ClamWin Antivirus tool at your behest. Spyware Terminator scans and zaps on three levels, and helps guard against malicious code swimming in through applications, system files, and the Internet.

Microsoft plug-in lets users try group search

Microsoft's Research group announced an Internet Explorer 7 plug-in called SearchTogether on Wednesday that turns Web searches into a group activity.

The plug-in lets people set up what amounts to search chat rooms, in which a group of people can jointly peruse search results. Users can chat, annotate specific results with comments, ratings, and recommendations. Members of a group also can return later to view the annotated search session.

It also lets people perform a "split search," in which results are divided among different users in separate browser tabs. Many hands make light work, as the saying … Read more

Pandora auditions desktop version of music service

Streaming-music service Pandora announced on Tuesday that it is testing out a beta version of a downloadable desktop application for Windows and Mac.

Until this point, Pandora had offered only Web-based music. A desktop application has been on the start-up's to-do list for some time, the blog post explained, and was also a common request from members.

The application is built using Adobe Integrated Runtime, or AIR, the Web-meets-desktop software that debuted in February and now powers a number of popular light applications like Twitter client Twhirl.

Pandora is ad-supported to handle the licensing fees that inevitably come from … Read more

Featured Freeware: IrfanView

This image viewer and editor is a longtime favorite, and with good reason: IrfanView is simple, fast, and free for individual use.

The program lets you make basic edits to images, as well as multiple media formats. You can cut and crop, apply batch conversions, add, sharpen, or blur effects, create panoramas, and change color modes easily. The program continues to add support for an array of file formats and has plug-in support for most image, video, and sound formats, including MP3, AVI, audio CD, and WMA. An IrfanView Thumbnails shortcut on the desktop offers an Explorer-like file … Read more

Yahoo Messenger goes big with new beta

On Friday, Yahoo released a new 9.0 beta version of the popular Yahoo Messenger chat client. The company may not have changed the version number at all, but it did add a boatload of new features and changes for those of us who like to play with software on the edge.

The most obvious change in the new release is an additional status message at the top of Messenger. Along with the conventional "Available," "Busy," and the like, there's now an additional line for Facebook-style status updates, such as "Surfing YouTube for Andy Rooney Game videos."

The other big change is larger emoticons. Since the Yahoo emoticons are likely the only reason I actually use Messenger instead of multiservice clients such as Trillian, Pidgin, or Digsby, I was very curious to see what these new emoticons looked like...and to learn if there are there any new ones!… Read more

Flock brings more under its wing

The latest Flock update for Windows and Mac introduces more services to its ever-growing list of options, as well as a battery of performance and stability enhancements.

Most notably, Pownce and Digg have been integrated as people services. If you're not familiar with the self-styled "social browser," this means that you can perform all Digg- and Pownce-related chores--sorry, that should be "tasks"--from within the browser's social-networking features. Support for AOL Webmail has also been added, letting you check that account as easily as your Gmail account.

There's still a long list of known bugsRead more

First Look video: IE7Pro

It may seem as if the whole world is using Firefox, but surveys indicate that nearly 75 percent of Netizens still use Internet Explorer. If you're part of that 75 percent, you need to check out this First Look video for the one plug-in you absolutely must have: IE7Pro.

IE7Pro powers up Internet Explorer with many of the features and functions that were once limited to other browsers, including a session manager, prefetching, and mouse gestures.

'Second Life' enters the world of mobile phones

Demanding a better-than-average processor, a 1024x768 screen resolution, a boatload of RAM, and a strong video card just to take part, it's hard to believe that Second Life, the virtual world developed by Linden Lab (download for Windows and Mac), could ever survive on a mobile phone.

Yet on Tuesday, Vollee, a 3G streaming services provider, began offering the free, open beta version of Second Life for 40 Wi-Fi-enabled and 3G cell phones with more handset compatibility coming soon. That means you, iPhone.

In Second Life Mobile, users will be able to fly and teleport all over the virtual … Read more