'Tis the season for patent court rulings! Yesterday Microsoft lost an appeal to a patent infringement case for how their Office suite (particularly Word) handles the opening of OpenXML documents. Microsoft made these the default document formats for the latest versions of Office (2007 for Windows, and 2008 for Mac), and as such have been widely adopted.… Read more
Shopping is supposed to be fun, dangit! But it's invariably a hassle-filled experience, especially at this time of year.
That's why I never walk into a store without these three iPhone apps at the ready. They're all free, and they make shopping faster, easier, and sometimes even a little less expensive.
CardStar Newly updated with an improved interface and support for 75 additional merchants, CardStar replaces various discount, reward, and membership cards in your wallet. To digitize a card, just enter a merchant name and your barcode number. When you get to the checkout, pull up the … Read more
Set in the '70s (with a funk-a-licious soundtrack to match), Driver casts you as an undercover cop trying to expose a national crime ring.
That, of course, is simply an excuse to get you behind the wheel for madcap missions across four cities. Driver is like a playable version of the classic car-chase scene from "Bullitt"--and you're Steve McQueen.… Read more
Yelp's first foray on Google's Android phones wasn't much to look at.
The initial feature set of Yelp's business review app for Android, which debuted December 7, was minimalist. It contained enough features--read-only access to Yelp.com, click-to-call, and a hyperlink to get directions from the browser or Google Maps--to avoid a user riot, but one would hardly call it the answer to Yelp's iPhone app.
On Tuesday, Yelp is making good on its promise to quickly pad the app's features. Version 1.2, an update available through the Android Market app on your … Read more
Music-tech entrepreneur Aviv Eyal, who's behind the excellent Livekick concert-tracking site, has a new project: a DJ app for the iPhone and iPod Touch called DJ Mixer Pro. (It was formerly known as DJ Player Pro, but the name has changed to avoid a conflict with another app.)
The concept is similar to Touch DJ, an Amidio app that I wrote about last month. While the iPhone naturally restricts you to playing one song at a time, these apps function like a virtual DJ booth, letting you play two tracks simultaneously, jump to any point in either track with … Read more
EA Mobile has released the second iPhone game in the Need for Speed series: Need for Speed Shift.
You may remember that we took a look at Need for Speed Undercover not too long ago and found it was a fun, arcadelike take on racing with a decent number of fully customizable vehicles. Shift is an evolution of that game but with more realistic racing physics in place of the hokey storyline. Also new to Shift are customizable racing views. Users can now select between chase-cam, hood-cam, bumper-cam, and cockpit views. The cockpit view is unique to the vehicle you're driving, but unfortunately there are no working gauges. The cockpit view is also the only view that features damage modeling in the form of a windshield that gets more messed up the as you hit things.
On your first outing with Shift, you'll be treated to a quick tutorial that teaches you how to drive with an iPhone. Shift pretty much plays like Undercover, but with a few key differences. Its steering is still controlled by tilting. The vehicles still auto-accelerate and brake when the screen is tapped. However, the race-breaker, slow-motion feature is gone and the controls are supposedly more realistic. In practice, this means that you can no longer win races without touching the brakes and that the transmission is now manual, which can be frustrating for novice users who just want to drive.
Fortunately, there are driver aids that can be activated that automatically brake and shift for you and assist steering that make your ham-fisted inputs smoother and more accurate. Users who want an easy to play, arcade-style racer can turn on the driving aids and win a few medals on the bus ride to work; and users who want more of a racing-sim experience can set all systems to manual for more control over the game. Driving aids or not, drifting is maddeningly difficult this time around. I prefer the drifting mechanics of Undercover.… Read more
Along with Beeker and Fozzie Bear, Animal ranks among my favorite Muppets characters. So it's great not only to see him starring in his own iPhone game, but to report that the game's a blast.
At first blush, The Muppets Animal Drummer from Disney looks like something out of Rock Band: you've got five drums that light up and change colors (and occasionally catch fire); combo bonuses and power-ups that appear as you progress; and Animal himself (itself?) banging away center-stage.
However, the gameplay's a bit different: Animal bangs out a series of beats using different … Read more
Apparently that wasn't enough though, because late Sunday the company released its own application that offers a handful of additional features for users with an iPhone or iPod Touch who want a native app instead of … Read more
Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. While utilities can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our main focus in this column is to bring you those that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems.… Read more
As we close out another great year at Download.com, we've been putting together several end-of-year software collections. Just like last year, Jessica Dolcourt and I have split up the iPhone apps of the year into two groups. Jessica has put together the iPhone Starter Kit that's perfect for grabbing the best productivity apps to make your life more...productive. My job is quite the opposite. I went through my favorite games of 2009 (and quickly realized I had too many), and was able to narrow it down to 17 of my most played games. If you're looking to waste some time, this collection was made for you!
I tried to make a collection of games that would have something for everyone, so I included quick casual games along with strategy, tower defense, first-person shooters, word games, and more. Obviously, I recommend every game in this list, but hopefully you'll be able to find a genre you like so you have something to play over the holidays.
Without further ado, here are my favorite games for 2009.… Read more