Utilities and drivers

How to root your Android

In the early days of Android, gaining root access was a complicated process, involving around a dozen steps and patience enough to test even the most serene of ascetic monks. Nowadays, not only do you not need a saffron-colored robe, it's much simpler: There's an app for that.

However, do note that rooting your phone voids your warranty, and the process is risky even in this streamlined form: there is still a chance that you can brick your phone and render it permanently inoperable.

That being said, also note that these are general instructions. There might be device-specific … Read more

How to back up your Android phone

Android doesn't offer a native backup service, so it's easy to ignore the need to do so. But don't wait until it's too late to start thinking about backing up your phone. Many of us rely on our phone cameras to snap day-to-day photos of our lives and save text messages to have some of the most important conversations. So before a thief swipes that phone, or a spilled cup of coffee bricks it, follow these tips:

Google has your back. Go to Settings > Privacy, and make sure that "Back up my settings" … Read more

Finding bargains and splitting lanes: iPhone apps of the week

Since the launch of iOS 4.3, several iPhone users have complained their batteries are draining much faster. I haven't personally noticed a difference, but for those of you who have, you'll happy to know that iOS 4.3.1 unexpectedly launched today. (It was rumored earlier this week that it might launch in two weeks).

Though there aren't many details about the release besides minor security and maintenance updates, it is likely that this early launch for the iOS means that Apple is trying to smooth out the bugs and hopefully take care of battery drain quickly.

Please let us know in the comments if you've experienced issues with iOS 4.3 and whether you noticed a difference in this latest update.

This week's apps include a well-designed barcode scanner and a game that challenges you to race through traffic on a motorcycle.… Read more

Take measurements and jump the gaps: iPhone apps of the week

The iPad 2 came out today and though I've only laid eyes on it for a few seconds (Donald Bell has been running around the office taking pictures and adding to his ongoing review), I'm definitely impressed with what I've seen so far. Apparently if you're looking to get one too, you'll need to be ready for long lines at the Apple store and an even longer wait if you order online, according to Josh Lowensohn.

Several developers have already updated their applications to take advantage of the iPad 2's upgraded processing power, which can be seen in Infinity Blade, Dead Space, and a few other top-name apps. Real Racing 2 HD also landed today, and looks great on the original iPad, but I have yet to see it in all its glory on the iPad 2.

As you have probably already heard, Apple has released a few apps of its own optimized for the iPad 2, including iMovie and GarageBand. I'll be writing reviews and shooting First Look videos for these early next week, so definitely check back for more info.

This week's apps offer a unique way to measure any object and a 2D snowboard racing game that's challenging, but great fun.… Read more

Facebook offers speed test for Web-based games

Facebook has released a benchmark designed to help developers test just how powerful desktop and mobile browsers are at running a new generation of games built with a new generation of Web standards.

One of the most important of those standards is the JavaScript programming language, which is ubiquitous on the Web and ever faster in browsers. Enter Facebook's JSGameBench, designed specifically for measuring game issues such as displaying "sprites," the graphics out of which animated characters are made.

"Although there are many other benchmark suites that measure JavaScript performance, we wanted to build one focused … Read more

Exclusively on Download.com: O&O Defrag Free

Windows' disk defragmentation tool is an old workhorse that recent upgrades haven't really improved. In fact, more than a few users were disappointed that the strangely mesmerizing block-by-block progress display had vanished from newer versions. You can get the old view back and much more with O&O Defrag, an automatic utility that can not only improve your system's performance by defragmenting data but also keep it running smoothly by preventing data fragmentation before it happens as it chugs on unnoticed in the background.

Today, the developer has announced a brand-new version of its Defrag software: the … Read more

Google lets apps tap into goo.gl URL shortner

Google took a somewhat arcane but important step yesterday in improving its goo.gl URL-shortening service, making it available not just through the Web but through third-party software.

Google announced the goo.gl application programming interface (API) yesterday. That makes it possible, for example, to let software such as TweetDeck shorten Web addresses to more easily fit within Twitter's 140-character constraints.

As with other services such as Bit.ly, the goo.gl service can share data about the expansion of the URLs. That's useful for companies that want to know how many people clicked a link in some … Read more

Got a new iPad? Find the best apps in our iPad Starter Kit

There had already been years of speculation before Apple's iPad finally made it on stage with Steve Jobs this year. Every Macworld Expo and Apple event for the past few years had always had a run-up with rumors of a new slate device that just might make its first appearance on stage. But it was always pushed out to the next Apple event.

When it was finally released, there were mixed reviews. Some wanted it to be a laptop, while others couldn't get enough of Apple's larger touch-screen device. But over the coming months, the iPad would … Read more

Updated: Mac Starter Kit

Now that your new Mac is set up and you have the Internet hooked up, how about some software? Out of the box, your Mac is loaded with cool apps to get you started on stuff like uploading and organizing your digital images, creating a music library, making your own movies, and surfing the Web. But it doesn't come with everything.

There are several apps Mac users count on every day that aren't included in the initial setup. To get you started, we've rounded up our must-have downloads for your new Mac. From Web browsers and useful … Read more

Top 10 Mac downloads of 2010

To recognize the software programs that have excelled on the Most Popular list this year, CNET Download.com has compiled the total download counts for the products in the Download.com catalog for 2010. We've ranked the top-10 biggest, for both Windows and Mac.

Software publishers who receive the Top 10 Download of 2010 distinction will have the privilege of displaying their accomplishments to the world with a special badge designed to commemorate the achievement. Look for the Top 10 Download of 2010 badge around the Web.

Mac users are certainly a growing breed, and this year's list … Read more