The Download Blog

Simplify Media adds chat

As the self-imposed deadline of June approaches, Simplify Media remains in beta for Windows, Mac, and mobile users. The iTunes and Winamp plug-in that lets you share your music with friends has, however, added three new features: chat, a "now playing" message that displays what your friends are listening to from your collection, and a built-in password reset for the forgetful among us.

The chat feature is the strongest, allowing you to directly communicate with friends, family, and even enemies with whom you've shared your music. It's a great way to give and get some direct … Read more

First Look video: ToneThis ringtone creator

ToneThis hails from the school of personalized cell phone content that errs on the side of simplicity. Not everyone wants or needs dozens of settings to produce a functional ringtone or wallpaper photo, and to that end, ToneThis is the perfect entree for casual customizers.

It's got a few basic enhancements for editing ringtone length and adding fades, but it could stand to gain a few more. Even novice users might like to reduce red-eye in a favorite photo. Still, for many, ToneThis will be the hassle-free vehicle of choice for getting their videos, music, and photos onto their … Read more

Featured Freeware: MediaMonkey

Mac users may have it easy with iTunes, but Windows fans should look elsewhere for solid features, a customizable interface, and device syncing support that doesn't devour resources. That's why there's MediaMonkey, which juggles excellent library-management tools with skins, plug-ins, autotagging, links to the Amazon.com MP3 store, track encoding, podcast catching, and more.

Upon first launch, the program scans your drive for supported digital media files to add to the library. Files are sorted based on their ID3 tags, and the helpful Auto-Rename and Auto-Tag From Filename features keep untagged tracks from falling through the cracks. … Read more

Sega Mobile offers a handful of games for free

Sonic the Hedgehog has seen a platform or four.

The spikey-furred rodent first brought to life by Sega in 1991 for proprietary consoles rolled with technology's punches onto TV, Xbox, PS3, and recently, onto mobile phones. April saw the spawning of Sega Mobile, when several flagship games, including Sonic the Hedgehog, were ported to mobile phone format and offered to cell phone gamers for subscription or sale through their carrier's Web portals. Now Sega Mobile is offering Sonic Jump, Afterburner II, and Golden Axe free of charge for U.S. residents.

The catch, as you may have guessed, … Read more

First Look video: BitComet

Taking a slightly different approach to solving the multimedia lover's dilemma of how best to download torrents is BitComet, which goes to great lengths to integrate familiar features like bookmarking with torrent management and discovery.

Although the program has moved on from the scandals of its past, it's still heavily reliant on advertising. Join me in this First Look at BitComet to help you decide if it's worth the download.

Yahoo releases Delicious plug-in for IE

Delicious, Yahoo's "social bookmarking" site that lets people archive, tag, and share Web site addresses, got its start closely tied to the Firefox open-source Web browser (download Delicious for Firefox). Now Yahoo is branching out to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, too.

The company released a beta version of the IE plug-in Tuesday (available on Download.com). Though there are differences, the IE version is similar, offering users the ability to add and tag bookmarks and to search their own bookmark collection.

"We're very excited about this release, as we have many users who use Internet … Read more

Travel through the universe

Last night, Microsoft Research released WorldWide Telescope--new, free software that enables users to explore the universe with impressive content from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, and other famed ground- and space-based telescopes. Colorful nebulae, distant galaxies, black holes, and radiation clouds are all accessible from your desktop with a few clicks. The software has been released for free in honor of Jim Gray, a Microsoft researcher who was lost at sea last year.

Google Earth added a similar feature called Google Sky with its Version 4.2 release. Google also … Read more

Times Reader headed to the Mac

The New York Times is bringing its e-reader desktop application to the Mac this month. The newspaper publisher unveiled its latest efforts last night, with a slew of screenshots. The Times' First Look post notes that the application will be running on Microsoft's Silverlight technology, enabling rich-media effects and rendering. Users will be able to read, browse, and search the entire publication while offline.

The big difference between the PC application and the Mac version will be the ability to view pages in three different sizes, all of which have been crunched on the company's servers instead of … Read more

Opera Mini 4.1 steps out of beta

On Tuesday, Opera sewed up a short beta run of Opera Mini 4.1. After a mere month and a half, the Norwegian software company declared the cell phone browser build stable enough to institute as the latest product standard.

Opera Mini 4.1, like Opera 9.5 Beta 2, can now guess the URL you want when you enter a search term in the address bar, a praiseworthy ability. It can also highlight terms on a Web page to let you zero in on most-wanted data bites. You'll use this Find feature, common to desktop browsers, by hitting … Read more

Google chooses 50 finalists in Android Developer Challenge

Google has chosen 50 finalists in the Android Developer Challenge, doling out $1.25 million in the process.

As part of a bid to heighten interest in Android, Google's forthcoming mobile operating system, the company has been running a contest for prospective Android developers to submit their ideas for the platform. A total of 1,788 entries were received from 70 countries.

Android is envisioned as a mobile phone operating system for mass-market phones, not necessarily smart phones like the iPhone or BlackBerry Bold. Google and its partners in the Open Handset Alliance hope to release phones running the … Read more