Power booster

For PC users, "new computer speed" is like "that new car smell," but how would you feel if your car got slower and slower every time you drove it? Savvy gamers, road warriors, and tech types know the trick of shutting down unneeded stuff to reclaim some of your system's performance, but it's cumbersome at best and too intimidating for most casual users, who are, ironically, the ones who need it the most. Enter AppBooster from Mobile Concepts. It shuts down unneeded applications, processes, services, and Windows Features running on your PC and returns … Read more

AutoCAD returns to the Mac, mobile app offered

After an absence of more than 15 years, AutoCAD is finally back on the Mac.

Autodesk announced Tuesday the launch of AutoCAD for Mac, a new version of its popular design and engineering tool that will run natively on Mac OS X.

AutoCAD for Mac will offer many of the features familiar to users of the software but will also take advantage of Mac OS X, said Autodesk. The program's Cover Flow interface will help users browse through graphical previews of each file, while the Mac's multitouch gestures will allow for panning and zooming of each drawing. Users … Read more

PapayaMobile launches Android App of the Day

Papaya is best known for its mobile social platform dubbed PapayaMobile, which offers a variety of features from gaming to chat to photo sharing. Unlike many others in the space, PapayaMobile recently elected to abandon support for the iPhone OS in favor of focusing all of its efforts on Android apps. The benefit of this is the open-source nature of the Google platform, which means that SDK developers can create their own programs to run in the Papaya interface. This functionality makes the service perfectly suited to its newest offering: Android App of the Day.

Android App of the Day, … Read more

Study: Music, not apps, rules iTunes

Software apps, which enable iPhone and iPod Touch users to do everything from play games to keep track of their weight, continue to grow in popularity. But music is "still central to the iTunes experience," according to a new survey from market researcher NPD Group.

In contrast with years past, NPD said Tuesday, "when every dollar spent at iTunes was on music and video," apps now vie for a chunk of that cash.

NPD said that an online survey in May of more than 3,800 members of the company's Web panel showed that all … Read more

Tapping this app gives special-needs users a voice

At $189.99, Proloquo2Go is far from the cheapest App Store offering. Believe it or not, though, that price is actually a bargain--one a certain market is seriously happy to pay.

The target market? Parents of kids with special needs--specifically those with autism, apraxia, and other disabilities that affect their communication. Many of these kids can't speak, or can't speak as fluently as their peers, but they understand what's going on around them, and they do have things they'd like to say.

Augmentative and alternative communication, or AAC, devices can supplement existing speech or replace speech that is not functional to improve social interaction, school performance, and--not for nothing--to give the kids a better sense of self-worth. Electronic AAC aids use picture symbols, letters, and/or words and phrases to create messages. Equipped with an AAC device, a child with cerebral palsy whose speech is limited suddenly has a way to tell you, "I want to go to Grandma's house this weekend!" or "I ate cake!"

Proloque2Go is just one of a growing number of AAC apps quickly gaining ground in the special-needs community. The reason is hardly surprising: before these apps came along, AAC devices could cost upward of $10,000--a cost many insurance companies would not cover. And for that hefty price, you got a heavy, clunky device that screamed, "I am different!" You would have looked cooler lugging an actual Commodore 64 around--though, at least then, you could have rocked the whole retro-chic look.

Kids aren't the only ones benefiting from these apps, of course--stroke and accident victims, as well as adults with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease) and other progressive degenerative diseases are also tapping into this growing market. … Read more

Essential free apps for back-to-school laptops

Heading off to class with a shiny new laptop is one of the best things about the back-to-school season, but we have yet to find a laptop that's perfectly set up out of the box. The typical first-time-use experience for a new laptop owner can be a frustrating one, with pop-up warnings from your free antivirus trial software; annoying settings to go through the first time you launch Internet Explorer (likely the only browser preinstalled on your machine); and missing or crippled apps for burning DVDs, opening ZIP files, or playing videos.

Unboxing and setting up a couple of … Read more

The 404 654: Where Jeff is elbow deep in Poutine (podcast)

Mark Licea fills in for Jeff, who's on vacation in Montreal reenacting "The Hangover," so get ready for a hate-free show. On today's episode of The 404, we're chatting about the new Netflix app for the Apple iPhone, Sumo wrestlers using iPads, "character amnesia" hitting China, and the first of many expired movie reviews from yours truly in a new segment we're calling Yu Ain't Seen That?! First film to scratch off the bucket list: "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

It's been a long time coming, but you … Read more

Netflix debuts on the iPhone

Netflix has hit the iPhone.

The popular video subscription service just updated its Apple app to support the iPhone and iPod Touch, which now join the iPad in offering streaming videos. Netflix members can download the free 1.1.0 version to watch their favorite TV shows and movies.

The Netflix app lets you access your Instant Queue to view videos you've already saved. You can browse by genre or search for specific titles from the service's growing library of streaming content. You can also stop a video and then resume where you left off, whether you're … Read more

Microsoft updates Office Web Apps, Facebook Docs

Although officially only two months old, Microsoft's Office Web Apps is already growing up a bit.

To satisfy just some of the many user requests for new features, Microsoft this week updated its online version of Office with enhancements to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

One of the most requested features, according to a company blog post, was the ability to print from the Word editor. Previously, you could only print from the Word viewer. Clicking on the File menu in the Word Web App editor now displays a Print command that lets you send a document to your local … Read more

RIM buys Cellmania, app store software maker

Research In Motion may be getting ready to jump-start the BlackBerry App World with the purchase of a mobile infrastructure software company Tuesday.

Cellmania, which makes software that wireless carriers and software developers can use to distribute applications, has agreed to join forces with RIM, it announced Tuesday afternoon on its home page. Unsurprisingly, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed on that same home page.

RIM may be the leading smartphone maker in North American, but its mobile application store does not get nearly as much love as Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market. Cellmania … Read more