Design tools

7 Android launchers to refresh your home screen

Your home should be comfortable, and so should your home screen. With an Android launcher, you can replace your phone or tablet's boring factory settings with themes, widgets, and other customizable options to make your home screen more homey. Here are our top seven picks to help you renovate your Android experience.

Google Now Launcher

Google Now Launcher is one of the most direct ways of getting the original Android home-screen experience. First introduced with the Moto X phone, the Google Now Launcher preserves the visual experience of KitKat for those with custom-themed versions of Android, and it comes … Read more

Mix it up with DJ Music Mixer for 60 percent off

A full-featured DJ and beatmatching system, DJ Music Mixer is a regular favorite with our users for having a beginner-friendly interface combined with a feature-rich toolset. It's a great entry-level software for learning and DJing small get-togethers. DJ Music Mixer helps you quickly grasp the basics without paying a premium price. For one week only, you can get it for only $11.98 -- 60 percent off the regular $29.95 price. Check out the trial before you buy.

Key Features

Mixes music and songs professionally with crossfade. Powerful equalizers with predefined settings. Complete mixing control with cue and … Read more

Get Pixar's rendering software behind 'Toy Story' absolutely free

Pixar's award-winning, in-house rendering software, RenderMan, will be free starting in August. All you have to do is sign up. The Emeryville studio has announced that it will offer the $500 rendering software for free, provided it is used for noncommercial purposes. The animation giant has also stated that the "free non-commercial RenderMan is exactly the same as the commercial version." This is pretty awesome news for aspiring digital artists.

The free version of RenderMan will be released with its commercial counterpart sometime in August. You can sign up here to get notified once it goes live. … Read more

18 apps for Mom on Mother's Day

Your mother loves you, but she probably counted the days 'til you turned 18. So, in honor of Mother's Day -- coming up May 11 -- we have 18 iOS and Android apps. Treat yourself and your mama to some handy, affordable tools that every mother should have. And for gifts with power buttons, check out CNET's Mother's Day Tech Gift Guide for cameras, wearable tech, home theater, and more.

For new moms:

Baby Monitor App

Concerned about the tyke being safe in the crib? Worry no more with this app, which turns a second smartphone into … Read more

Modify Web image text with Project Naptha

In what appears to be nothing short of JavaScript black magic, Project Naptha allows you to select and modify text from any Web image. Using character-recognition technology derived from several sources, such as Microsoft Research Lab and Google's Tesseract open-source OCR engine, the Project Naptha extension also enables you to remove, translate, and edit text in Web images. You simply move your cursor over text to highlight and start editing.

Project Naptha will help when you want to search terms or words inside an image. You can also translate directly onto pictures -- great for maps and travel planning … Read more

Unity CEO David Helgason foretells the future of gaming

Unity builds technology to help developers build games. At GDC 2014, I chatted with the CEO of Unity, David Helgason. The gaming innovator previewed some of the latest Unity 5 features that developers will be able to use, including improvements in lighting effects and audio mixing.

Games that use Unity:

Dead Trigger (Android)

Device 6 (iOS)

GDC 2014's virtual-reality highlights

Eddie Cho looks at the latest developments in immersive gameplay, including the second version of the Oculus Rift dev kit, Project Morpheus, and the Virtuix Omni controller.

Also check out the IGF winners from GDC.

Adobe brings 3D printing to Photoshop CC

Watching 3D printing evolve reminds me of the nascent days of desktop publishing -- now complete that deja vu with Adobe jumping into the market. The company thinks 3D printing is on the cusp of going mainstream and sees a coming inflection point in the consumer market once full-color printers, full-color content, and a robust marketplace for third-party downloadable models emerges. Adobe sees its role as providing the tools for helping generate the full-color content -- that makes sense given its users and applications.

Yes, Windows 8.1 now has built-in support, but here's the rub: the 3D API in Windows 8.1Read more

Add depth to your Android screen with these 2 parallax wallpapers

Visual effects like parallax have been around since the 1980s and have been popularized as a development technique during the golden days of gaming in the 16 bit era. Parallax effects simulate depth by giving the foreground and background layers of an interface independent constraints in direction. An example of this is when you play Super Mario and the background seamlessly moves in reverse as you walk forward. The result is a multi-plane effect that makes for an illusion of depth.

Reverse wallpaper scrolling makes for a subtle but interesting experience on your phone. Android has had this capability for … Read more

Safeguard your school year with McAfee and more

You're a student and you're poor. Because of the cuts in Financial Aid (thanks Obama!), you're working at two different McDonalds across town to pay for that triple dorm room. You have to go back to school soon, but you don't have enough money to buy the tools you need to succeed. You resort to piracy and bam, the FBI is on your tail. You flee to Mexico but run into some trouble with the Federales. They deport your behind back to the States and a judge gives you 15 years and says you shouldn't … Read more