Mobile software

3 Spritz-like speed-reading apps for Android

When the Samsung Galaxy S5 was announced, details emerged about Spritz -- a speed-reading feature that comes built-in to some apps on the phone. Spritz uses rapid serial visual presentation, or RSVP, to display words one after another using a single focal point. The company calls this point the optimal recognition point, or ORP.

The technology isn't exactly new -- it dates back to the 1970s -- and it was even used in software for last decade's phones. In 2005 CNET covered a demo version of BuddyBuzz, mobile software that could display one word at a time on … Read more

PhotoDirector 5 review

PhotoDirector is an all-in-one photo editor and manager that gives you complete control over your digital photography workflow. For new users and photography veterans alike, PhotoDirector has robust tools to help you perfect each snapshot.

Pros

Intuitive interface: PhotoDirector shares many traits with tried-and-true workflow interfaces like Lightroom. Primary adjustment and management tools are in menus that are aligned to the screen edges. Manual-adjustment sliders give you incremental control over every aspect of your photo file, from standard color-correction, brightness, and noise-removal tools to more perspective-altering adjustments like lens correction.

Filtered management: Get as basic or as granular as you … Read more

Star Apps: David J

If you want to hear David J's new album, "An Eclipse of Ships," but can't make it to Austin for his three SXSW shows (March 12-16), you'll have to wait till spring. The acoustic album features musicians on violin, acoustic piano, Rhodes, stand-up bass, mandolin, oboe, percussion, and a bevy of acoustic guitars. It's a celebration of women -- some known to the artist and some conjured up in fantasies.

David J's time as founding member of death rock band Bauhaus ("Bela Lugosi's Dead," "Dark Entries," "Kick … Read more

Star Apps: Dirty Vegas

Leading up to Dirty Vegas's SXSW appearances, vocalist Steve Smith talks about new video "Let the Night," the story behind "Days Go By," favorite software for DJing and production, and his top five apps.

British EDM duo Dirty Vegas first found fame when its debut single "Days Go By" reached the top of the 2002 club charts, won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, and appeared in a Mitsubishi Eclipse car commercial. Three top 20 albums and five top 40 club hits later, Dirty Vegas vocalist Steve Smith chatted with me about new … Read more

Next Angry Birds game a turn-based RPG

If you wanted more bird-flinging, it looks like you might be in for a wait: Developer Rovio has revealed that the next title in the Angry Birds series is a turn-based RPG.

Our heroes are, of course, the birds, with each bird being a different character class; the red bird, for example, is the knight (obviously; see the teaser trailer below), and the yellow bird is the wizard. You'll lead them into battle across a fantasy-themed Piggy Island, defeating the pigs, apparently, on their home turf -- presumably the story will reveal the whys and wherefores.

It also seems … Read more

Star Apps: Kraak & Smaak

Dutch DJ trio Kraak & Smaak are best known in the US for singles like 2008's "Squeeze Me" and 2010's "Dynamite." A soulful house track, "The Future Is Yours," leads off "Chrome Waves" (perhaps my favorite party album of 2013) and has already topped US college radio charts. Kraak & Smaak returned to SXSW this week for three shows.

Are you excited to return to SXSW? What will you be doing there? It's great to be back again. We missed the US a lot! We will do three showcases … Read more

File your return from anywhere with these top tax apps

Avoid the mad, end-of-tax-season scramble by getting some apps to help you calculate how much you owe Uncle Sam. Even if you've already filed, these apps can help you get organized and prepared for next year's return.

Organizing your tax records

Shoeboxed (iOS, Android)

Gone are the days of keeping all your receipts in a box above the fridge. Shoeboxed makes it easier to track your expenses -- just take a photo of your receipts, and Shoeboxed will safely store them. From there the app will archive based on dates and sort your spending into different categories (food, … Read more

Star Apps: Les Claypool

Primus frontman Les Claypool and M.I.R.V. guitarist Bryan Kehoe were jamming around the campfire one night. Claypool was suddenly inspired by the country music forced on him as a child -- Johnny Horton, Jerry Reed, and Vernon Dalhart -- and started playing his bass in a "Luther Perkins dig digga dang, dig digga dang" while Kehoe accompanied on guitar. They tested various songs, from obvious choices like Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans" and Primus' own "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver" to less likely candidates such as Alice in … Read more

Apple Maps may get major 'under-the-hood' upgrade

Apple plans to make major improvements to the Maps app in iOS 8, a new report claimed on Tuesday.

Apple's top executives, including CEO Tim Cook and Senior Vice Presidents Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, are currently working on Maps for iOS 8, 9to5Mac reported, citing people who claim to have knowledge of Apple's plans. The executives are focusing less on interface improvements this year and more on enhancements to the application's accuracy and reliability, the report said.

In addition, Apple has added public transit functionality to the app, ensuring that users can find directions when using … Read more

Star Apps: Gary Numan

Gary Numan is well aware that most Americans know him only for his "Cars" single. It's his only US hit, charting at No. 9 back in 1980. But when people call the electro pioneer a one-hit wonder, it drives me crazy. If "Down in the Park," "Are 'Friends' Electric?" "Me! I Disconnect From You," and "You Are in My Vision" (with Tubeway Army), "I Die: You Die," and "We Take Mystery (To Bed)" didn't chart in the US, it's not for lack of … Read more