Software week in review

Welcome to our recap of recent software news, opinions, how-tos, new releases, and coming attractions. If you like these roundups, we'll do more. You can also subscribe to our newsletters to get the latest products and our editors' reviews in your inbox.



Heartbleed remains an open wound. Ars Technica reports that a month after the flaw's discovery, half of affected systems remain vulnerable to Heartbleed. Meanwhile, Pew Research finds that only 39% of Internet users changed their passwords because of Heartbleed.

Bitly accounts have been compromised -- go reset your passwords.

Symantec VP Brian Dye told the Wall Street Journal that antivirus is dead; Kaspersky said nyet. The bottom line: Antivirus software doesn't block every type of attack; you need more than one line of defense. But even if, as Dye estimates, antivirus apps block just 45% of attacks, that's still 45% less peril to your PC.

If a site that looks phishy asks you to "Log in with Facebook" (or Google or Yahoo) -- don't. A Covert Redirect exploit takes advantage of OAuth 2.0 and Open ID implementations from sites like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo in attempt to capture your credentials and account info.

Dropbox dropped the ball on securing user information -- another service found users' mortgage applications and income tax returns. Dropbox says the vulnerability has been fixed. (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)

Hackers are advertising a CryptoLocker-like piece of ransomware for Android devices. Protect yourself by downloading Android apps only from Google Play, the Amazon Appstore, and other trustworthy sites.

Speaking of ransomware, malicious software downloads exploded in late 2013, according to Microsoft.

App-itude: opinions on software

iOS and Android

Re/code's Walt Mossberg says Android and iOS should learn from each other, while CNET's Luke Westway thinks the platforms' differences no longer matter.

Wired's Kyle Vahneberg says game design is why he hates 2048 (iOS, Android) and Threes pleases (iOS, Android).

Speed readers are neither? A psycholinguist looks at the claims of speed-reading apps.

What's the future of apps? Molly Wood at the New York Times and Jamie Carter at TechRadar look at contextual computing, your device's ability to assess your context (where you are, what you're doing, what time it is, and so on) to predict what you'd like to do.

"Cross promotional. Deal mechanics. Revenue streams. Jargon. Synergy."


Uber is now integrated with Google Maps (iOS, Android). So if you have installed Uber (iOS, Android), then Google Maps will display Uber cars as a transportation option, and you can tap the Uber icon in Maps to order a ride. In other news, you can now save Google Maps to use offline, for those times when your phone has low or no signal.

You can now add items to your Amazon shopping cart via Twitter. Link your Amazon and Twitter accounts, reply to any tweet with an Amazon product link, add #AmazonCart. And now everyone can search that hashtag to see what everyone else is shopping for.

Evernote and LinkedIn have teamed up to let you scan business cards with your phone, and you can then search for the card in either app. The Evernote Business Card Camera is available now in Evernote for iPhone and iPad, and an Android version is coming.

Social networks and chat apps


Twitter users can now reset their passwords by text message, and the app is adding extra verification for suspicious log-ins.

Last week at the F8 developer conference, Facebook announced anonymous login, which will let you try apps without exposing your personal info.

Users of Moves (iOS, Android) are concerned about the fitness app sharing data with Facebook, which acquired Moves last month.

Snapchat settled a case with the FTC over messages that are supposed to disappear but don't. The app also released new chat and video-call features, but Molly Wood points out that these messages won't be ephemeral, either.

The Daily Dot reports that Secret (iOS, Android) is planning a private-messaging app.

And another private-messaging app, Chadder, currently in beta on Android, got an endorsement from former fugitive and Benjamin-burnerJohn McAfee, though middling reviews on Google Play.

Be a beta-tester

Words With Friends

Words With Friends (iOS, Android) is five years old this year, and Zynga has a new version in limited release -- if you're in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore, grab it in Apple's App Store or on Google Play.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is testing Privacy Badger, an extension for Chrome and Firefox that blocks spyware and trackers.

Google has put homework in the cloud with Classroom, which harnesses Drive, Docs, and Gmail for teachers and students.

Educators can also sign up to try Office Mix, a PowerPoint 2013 extension that adds quizzes and other interactive elements.

Uber's Android app is accepting beta testers for version 3.0.

The University of Michigan's Depression Center is studying PRIORI, an Android app that detects early signs of mood change by analyzing voice patterns.

How To...

Google Maps

Use Google Maps in offline mode.

Time-travel with Google Maps.

Read more with fewer clicks via a Chrome extension.

Switch between Mac applications in OS X.

Customize your Android home screen.

Get the most out of IFTTT.

Change the behavior of Ctrl, Alt, and Shift keys in Firefox.

There's an app for that? Sure, why not

Anova Precision Cooker

Remote-control cooking with your phone: The Anova Precision Cooker is a sous vide immersion device that syncs with your iPhone via Bluetooth. The makers also plan to build an Android app and an SDK for developers who want to build their own software for the device.

Tour guide for North Korea: If Vice and Dennis Rodman didn't give you enough sense of the hermit kingdom, the North Korea Travel app (iOS, Android) can show you the hot spots.

Parking wars: The Parking Mobility app (iOS, Android) lets you report able-bodied drivers who have taken accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities. Right now it's deployed in central Texas, but the company says it will come to four other states in 2014. If you're more mercenary than crowdsourcing social-justice warrior, there's MonkeyParking, which lets you auction off your prime parking spot (yes, you're effectively selling public property). The service is available on iOS in San Francisco and Rome, with an Android version in development and plans to expand to New York, Chicago, and Seattle.

Julie is managing editor of and has been cooking up tech editorial since 1996.