Widgets and desktop enhancements

Evernote gets built-in, third-party app directory

SAN FRANCISCO--Web-based memory service Evernote on Wednesday unveiled what it's calling the next phase of its business with something called "The Trunk."

The Trunk is both a directory of third-party sites and a set of tools that can be integrated into the Evernote service to bring additional functionality. According to Evernote CEO Phil Libin, who held a press conference about the new offering here, The Trunk is not an app store, per se, but it will let other companies more easily bring features to the product that Evernote itself could not.

Libin said more than 2,000 … Read more

Google acquires entertainment company LabPixies

Google loves to build platforms on which programs run--Android, App Engine, iGoogle, and in the biggest picture, the Web itself. But platforms are of no use, and aren't much fun, without applications on top, so Google often also kick-starts development with applications of its own.

Now it appears Google is interested in boosting development in a variety of casual gaming and entertainment areas with the acquisition of LabPixies, announced late Monday. The company offers a collection of games and lightweight utilities that run on iGoogle, Google's customizable home page, and on the iPhone and Android phones.

Terms of … Read more

Opera Mobile devs get a Windows, Mac, Linux emulator

The latest release from Opera Software is admittedly a mobile browser-related app that few smartphone owners will ever touch, let alone know of its existence. It's a new tool that developers of Opera Mobile widgets, however, will want to get their code-tinkering paws on.

The Opera Mobile 10 desktop emulator will let widget-creators visually mark the progress of their tiny addendum apps from the convenience of the Windows, Mac, or Linux (direct download) screen.

Emulators aren't new to the mobile development biz any more than tools for software authoring are new to Opera, whose Dragonfly debugging tool has … Read more

Social updater qStatus comes to Windows

It's been a long, strange trip, but qStatus has finally come to Windows users. For those unaware, the status updating application for Facebook and Twitter began as a paid app for users with jailbroken iPhones. It later appeared on the App Store, albeit with fewer features than its jailbroken sibling (most notably a lack of being able to run in the background).

At $2.95, the new Windows app is a smidgen pricier than the iPhone version, but is packing some extra features. The nicest one being a keyboard shortcut (the Windows key + s) which brings up the app in widget form no matter what other app you're using. Here you can update your status, then dismiss it just as quickly.

As with other desktop Twitter apps, qStatus supports drag-and-drop file sharing; in our testing this worked great with photos and videos. The app lets you pick which hosting service you prefer, although it offers noticeably fewer options than rivals. You can, for instance, only choose between TwitPic and YFrog for photos, and TwitVid and YFrog for videos.

Just like the iPhone version, qStatus handles multiple accounts without a whole lot of effort on the user's part. It also adds in support for groups, which lets you select more than one account between Facebook and Twitter to update at the same time. This would be useful if you wanted to send the same message out to say three or four different Twitter accounts. Otherwise, it seems like a feature that's been built for the inevitable support for other services.

One of my favorite features is actually the status update shortener. This takes tweets that are too long and crunches them down, taking out letters where needed, and converting written numbers into digits. Normally you have to do this with a service like TweetShrink or 140it, so it's nice to simply have this built into the app instead.

Along with the paid version, which is currently on sale (as opposed to the normal price of $4.95), users can download a free version with all the features. This trial version is limited to 40 status updates before you have to upgrade. There is, however, an inventive option to include a "#qstatus" hashtag in 15 of your outgoing status updates, which provides for a year's worth of full use.

If there's anything to be said about this software, it's that it's useful--but not nearly as useful as services like TweetDeck (download), Seesmic Desktop (download), and Skimmer (download), which let you keep an eye on what your Twitter pals are up to in an organized stream. And all of those pieces of software are free of charge and cross-platform to boot. Still, if you're in the market for a very fast and lean Twitter and Facebook updater, this one's off to a promising start.

The company's demo video can be found after the break.… Read more

Meebo Bar now available for all

Over the last few months, you may have noticed the Meebo Bar gracing the bottom of some Web sites, mostly large blogs, or other similar big content sites. That's because previously, the Meebo Bar was only available to select partners, so the little guys were mostly shut out. Now, Meebo is making the Meebo Bar available for all Web sites, with a specific focus on blogs.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Meebo Bar, it's a JavaScript plug-in that sits at the bottom of Web pages. It enables a lot of different social interaction and … Read more

Official 'Avatar' AIR app is a must-see

If you're planning to check out "Avatar" when it hits theaters next month, you'll definitely want to download its official Adobe AIR app.

Like so many other Adobe AIR apps, the "Avatar" app has really pushed the limits of what can be done with the mobile-widget platform.

Once you start using the app, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. You can view all the trailers released so far for the film. You can also follow movie updates and the cast with the help of the app's built-in networking … Read more

Give a microdonation to your favorite charity

Making microdonations on the Web is a little harder than it once was. Many of the services I would have included in this roundup have shuttered in the past year. In fact, there are just a handful of viable such services left.

Regardless, each of the services listed below will help you connect with the charitable organization (or person) you care about most. You can choose a cause, decide how much to donate, and you're done. It's a really simple process. And if you're in the mood to share, it should be a rewarding one.

Get giving

#BeatCancer Although the #BeatCancer initiative that asked for users to include the hash tag in their tweets to raise cash for cancer awareness is over, the organization's site still allows users to make donations to four different cancer organizations. They include organizations dedicated to breast cancer awareness, childhood cancer, an organization dedicated to better research, and a group that provides support for cancer patients.

You can use the site to donate whatever you'd like to any of the organizations. You can also get the word out about the organizations by clicking on the "spread the word" option in each donation widget. Upon doing so, your Twitter account will be populated with a link for others to donate to the same organization. It's a convenient way to be social and contribute to the fight against cancer.

ChipIn ChipIn is a fine way to start raising money for the charity you care about. It also provides an easy way to get all your social-networking friends to dole out some cash.

When you get to ChipIn, you'll need to input the cause you're trying to raise money for. You can also input how much cash you want to raise over the term of the fundraiser. From there, you need to input your PayPal account. It works well, but it's the social element that might help most. With the help of ChipIn's Facebook widget, you can put your donation box in front of all your friends. You can also add plug-ins to your Web site. Overall, ChipIn makes it quite convenient to make and receive microdonations.… Read more

Get more out of your Amazon shopping experience

If you're a frequent Amazon shopper, you might be looking out for tools to help enhance the experience of buying products on the site. There are services on the Web to help you get more out of Amazon than simply picking up a few products from the company's pages.

Let's take a look.

Get your Amazon on

AmaDig If you're looking for a different way to search Amazon, AmaDig will provide it.

When you get to the site, you can pick which Amazon category you want to sift through. From there, the site lists images of different products offered in that category. When you click on a respective product, you can view its specs, pricing, and reviews. You can also view the listing on Amazon or add it to your shopping cart from the site. It's a neat tool, but beware that the interface is a little clunky.

Amazon Mobile If you're ready to buy a product at the store, you might want to consider using the Amazon app on your iPhone before you plunk down the cash.

Amazon Mobile not only lets you search for products and pricing, you can also take a picture of a product and have the app search Amazon's database to get its pricing. You can add items to your cart and use Amazon's 1-click payment system to place an order. (Read our full review here).… Read more

Nomee combines AIR with social information

Adobe AIR applications are typically well designed. They feature a sleek look and relatively fast response times. TweetDeck (Windows | Mac), a popular Adobe AIR app, has put the platform on the map. It has caused some developers to view AIR as a viable alternative platform to building a Web site.

Nomee (Windows|Mac), a company that helps users see what celebrities, prominent figures, or their friends are up to online, is one such app.

The basics Nomee is based on "cards." When you first sign up for the site (you can use OpenID if you don't want to create unique Nomee credentials), you'll be presented with celebrities and prominent figures who currently have cards on the site. But before you start thinking that there are scores of celebs on Nomee, think again: for the most part, those cards were created by Nomee users, not the celebrities themselves.

When you view a card, it displays an image of the person, followed by several sites or services that are related to them. When you click on one of those services, you'll be brought to its respective Web page. For example, if you click on the Twitter logo on my card, you can view my Twitter page.

If you like what you see, you can "add" the card to your Nomee Dashboard. From there, Nomee will track all the card updates. It will alert you when there's something new for you to check out.

Nomee's Newstream lets you view all the updates from every card you follow. Thanks to such a nice design and some filtering options, you shouldn't have any trouble finding exactly what you're looking for. It's arguably Nomee's best feature.

Card creation Of course, Nomee isn't just a place where you can see what your favorite celebrities are up to. You can also create your own card to share with friends. Those same friends can create cards and share their social profiles and links with you.… Read more

10 Demo grads: Where are they now?

Over the last 13 years, Chris Shipley has been the primary gatekeeper of the twice-a-year Demo conferences, evaluating more than 20,000 applications from companies wishing to present in front of a roomful of reporters, venture capitalists, and analysts.

Now, with DemoFall 2009 beginning Tuesday morning, Shipley is marking the last of 24 Demos she has overseen as she prepares the formal hand-off of the show to VentureBeat founder Matt Marshall.

For each Demo, Shipley and her team have selected a few dozen companies, giving each a chance to make a name for themselves during a 6-minute presentation in a … Read more