Rovio: Angry Birds at 60,000 downloads a day

We had the pleasure of sitting down in CNET's San Francisco offices on Wednesday with Finnish developers Mikael Hed and Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio, makers of hit iPhone and iPad game Angry Birds (download for iPhone/iPad).

Angry Birds has become the most successful paid iPhone app to date, selling more than 5 million copies of the 99-cent game in the past six months alone. Did it get there overnight? No, but in the world of App Store development, its ascension was brisk.

So how did it all start? Toward the end of last year, the Rovio developers said … Read more

Find your gate before leaving home

If you've read my iPhone app reviews before, you'll know that I have a slight penchant for airline- and aviation-themed titles. I've looked at the best iPhone flight tracker apps, the top titles for frequent fliers, and the best apps for airline geeks.

Given my track record, it shouldn't surprise you that I spend a lot of time scanning airport departure screens. Don't ask me why--I guess I just like to see where everyone is going--but I continue looking even after I've found the gate for my flight. So I was excited when I heard about Airport Remote, a nifty app that lets me take all that information on the go. Even if you're not an airline geek, you can use Airport Remote to check a flight's status before even leaving home. It's in the iTunes App Store for $3.99.

Airport Remote, developed by Sojern, shows real-time departure and arrival screens from 100 major airports across the United States, plus 20 of the biggest fields around the world. The list is surprisingly extensive so even the most-frequent globetrotter should be covered. What's more, all airlines that serve a particularly airport are listed; you'll even see details for cargo and charter flights and executive aircraft. … Read more

China-made 'Peel' turns iPod Touch into a phone

Some time this week, users of Apple's iPod Touch could get cellular features on the portable media player, according to reports.

Chinese firm Yosion Technology, which is based in Shenzhen, has developed the Apple Peel 520 protective case, which will be available online for about $57 with a one-year warranty.

According to a review in Chinese on PConline, the accessory fixes onto the iPod Touch and comes with a dock connector; built-in 800mAh battery (rated for 4.5 hours of talk time and five days on standby); and SIM card slot. It will only work with a jailbroken iPod TouchRead more

New Apple program lets schools buy apps in bulk

Apple this week launched what it calls the App Store Volume Purchase Program, which lets educational institutions buy 20 or more apps in bulk for faculty or students.

The program requires schools to designate at least one "program facilitator" to join. Upon doing so, the institution needs to buy volume vouchers worth between $100 and $10,000. Only those vouchers can be used to buy applications from the company's App Store. Applications that schools want to purchase with a credit card can only be purchased through an individual account.

Although volume purchasing might hint at discounted pricing … Read more

Google pulls Easy Root from Android Market

Since its beginnings, Android's identity has hinged on its openness and customization. Unlike Apple's iOS, Android allows users, handset manufacturers, and carriers a lot of room for tweaking their devices. But even with so much freedom, a select group of folks demanded even more customization and decided to "root" their handset. And up until now, that has been possible with the Easy Root application in the Android Market.

For the uninitiated, rooting lets users overcome limitations or restrictions imposed by wireless carriers or handset manufacturers. It's very much like jailbreaking an iPhone. It may sound … Read more

Microsoft updates Office 2004, 2008 for Mac

Focused on security and stability, Microsoft has released updates to its Office 2004 and 2008 suite of productivity applications for Mac.

The update to Office 2008, now version 12.2.6, plugs a security hole that would allow potential hackers to access your Mac's data by overwriting memory with malicious code. The update is recommended for all users of Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac (Home and Student Edition, Special Media Edition, Student and Teacher Edition, and Business Edition).

The update for Office 2004 also provides security upgrades as well as continued stability improvements. It is recommended for all users … Read more

Weekly troubleshooting utilities update

Our weekly utilities update report is a list of updates for Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though utilities can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our focus in this column is to bring you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems.

This week we have updates for fsevents-based file-system managing utilities, graphics and system managing hardware utilities, a few network diagnostics and information utilities, and one system maintenance program.

File-system utilities Yesterday, I outlined some of the benefits of using fsevents utilities … Read more

Could phones become 'viable threat' to gaming devices?

The gaming industry is getting some much needed help from mobile phones, market research firm iSuppli found in a recent study.

According to iSuppli, shipments of game-capable mobile phones will be up 11.4 percent by the end of 2010 to 1.27 billion, compared to 1.14 billion shipments in 2009. By the end of 2010, it expects console shipments to top 52.3 million units, up just 0.2 percent compared to 2009's 52.1 million units. Handhelds are expected to see a decline in 2010, tallying 38.9 million shipments by the end of 2010, compared … Read more

Watch Xvid videos on your iPad

The iPad may work wonders as a mobile video player, but it's rather hamstrung by the limited number of video file formats it supports.

Indeed, unless you convert all your videos to MP4 format (a lengthy and sometimes fruitless process) or stream them via an app like Air Video (not an option when you're offline), you're sorta outta luck.

Enter CineXPlayer, an iPad video player with native support for the popular Xvid (AVI) format. It's free, and it's fantastic.

Start by copying videos to your iPad by way of iTunes' File Sharing feature (which is … Read more

Windows app makes iTunes toting easier

A new, free little Windows app by Matthew Allen called PhoneAble does exactly one thing for iPhone owners: it enables them to manage the music on their device from any Windows computer with iTunes installed.

It does this by changing the computer's iTunes key--which is unique to each installation of iTunes--to match the key of your iPhone. This tricks iTunes into thinking that the phone plugged in via USB is one it's allowed to edit. It's simple, and that's why it's good.

Above is a screenshot showing how easy it is to use: back up … Read more