Prepare thy hoses. The recent announcement of the Safari 5 Web browser got me thinking--just how much of Apple's latest software iteration is already replicated in Firefox? In Google? I've never been a fan of the Safari browser myself--even the few times I would ever let my pristine hands be blackened by an unholy Apple device. But one has to give the company credit, in that they sometimes do come up with some pretty neat ideas.
Has Apple managed to improve Safari 5 leaps and bounds beyond its chief rivals, Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome? In short, no. A number of the new tricks and tidbits are already a part of one browser, or both, in some capacity. Some, that is, but not all. Just to make sure that you're getting the best-in-class experience on the Web, I've put together a short list of ways that you can embed or mimic the spirit of some of Safari 5's features in either aforementioned alternative Web browser.
I realize this is a little bit different than the usual freeware software roundup. And, yes, I realize you're about to flame me to bits for suggesting that anything touched by Apple is, in even the smallest of ways, better than a PC-based piece of hardware or software. Let's head this off at the pass by agreeing that cool features are cool features regardless of platform; I'm out of iPhones to break to prove my loyalty, faithful readers!
"Privacy" is the word that's on the lips of anyone even remotely connected to the Web 2.0 nowadays. But I don't care much about that. What you do on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or whatever, is your own business--and, worse, there aren't really third-party applications that you can download and use to self-assess your potential privacy pitfalls. You're on your own there.
However, when it comes to Windows--oh, yes, there's much we can talk about when it comes to the Windows operating system. There are always newer and stronger ways to protect your PC from intrusion, from third-party access via an unscrupulous exploit or unintended network connection to the raw, physical tricks one can use to gain access to your protected information. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it, it does.
So, without further ado, let's take a little joyride through some unique free and open-source applications that you can use to lock down your PC without removing all traces of usability from your operating system. For just about the only thing worse than a computer nobody else can get into is a computer that you, yourself, have to jump through 30 hoops just to get into. These apps aren't going to be that, you have my word.
There are a ton of apps out there that you can use to automate something you do on your PC. I mean, that's the central conceit of software development as a whole, correct? To somehow ease the time burden it takes one to do a particular task in what would otherwise be a manual, labor-intensive process?
Well, when a number of new apps each seek to automate some facet of your everyday computing life, it should come as little surprise that I'm going to cover them. However, I've also hand-selected a few interesting little freeware and open-source tools that are a bit more esoteric in their operations than what you might typically think of when you ponder the word, "automation."
Case in point: Want to find a way to find and delete all the credit card information you've accidentally left open on your system? Or would you like a method for discovering duplicate images on your system so you can nix unwanted (and space-consuming) shots you don't actually want to keep around?
These are but a few of the situations I'll be tackling in this week's Freeware Files. Click the jump and let's get started!
Amazon today announced that its Kindle for Android app will make its debut this summer. It will be available as a free download and give readers access to over 540,000 books in the Kindle Store. Amazon says that, like all Kindle apps, this one will include the company's Whisersync technology, which saves and synchronizes a customer's bookmarks across their Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, and of course their Android device.
"Kindle for Android is the perfect companion application for Kindle and Kindle DX owners, and is also a great way for customers to enjoy over 540,000 books in the Kindle Store even if they don't yet have a Kindle," said Jay Marine, director, Amazon Kindle. "We think customers are going to love the convenience and simplicity of having instant access to a massive selection of books from Amazon on their Droid, Nexus, Incredible and many more Android devices."
There isn't a whole lot new here, other than being able to use Kindle on your Android handset. Kindle for Android will let users choose between five different font sizes, read in portrait or landscape mode, browse by genre or author, read the beginning of books for free, and access their library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon's servers for no cost.
Nothing was said about upcoming tablet devices, but this could be prove to be a fairly significant development as Android-based tablets start to come out.
HP's Social Computing Lab said it's busy developing Gloe, a cloud service that allows users to tag, search for, find, and bookmark pages relevant to their location.
"HP Gloe is a geo-tagging experiment from HP Labs that attaches Web content to specific geographic locations, HP explains. "Gloe aims to provide a platform for location-based discovery of relevant information for mobile Web users, a growing subset of Web users that a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life project found had doubled from 2007 to 2009."
This is sort of new territory for HP, which exactly known for these kinds of mobile apps. But with the recent acquisition of Palm, Gloe could quickly become a native app on Palm smartphones, or even tablets, eWeek surmises.
I'm often surprised by what people find popular in the world of freeware and open-source applications, let alone Web apps. It's tough to use the comments on Maximum PC's website as an official barometer, as they don't take page views, click-throughs, or raw downloads of whatever apps I/we recommend into account. Nevertheless, judging by the wrath, boundless joy, and heavy presence of spam-filter-nose-thumbing-signatures attached to the various weekly software articles, I can sometimes get a general vibe for what's appreciated... and what's not.
But I'm not about to dedicate the next 700 words or toward tooting my own horn--not unless there's an app for that. I do find it interesting, and a little bit funny, that a relatively innocuous application like last week's "Instant Elevator Music" received such an exuberant amount of interest via the blog comments. Of course, that's after weeks can go by with nothing but tumbleweeds greeting other applications that, honestly, I find much more useful.
Myxer, the Florida-based website which claims the Internet's largest catalogs of free ringtones, wallpapers, videos, applications, and games has put together a report detailing how female consumption habits compare to males in the mobile phone space. Here are a few highlights of what they found:
Females accounted for 67 percent of total downloads by unique users on the Myxer platform in April 2010
1.7 times as many females as males came to Myxer to download content in April, while each female that visited downloaded 17 percent more content than the average male
The average female on Google's Android and Apple's iPhone platforms downloaded 21 percent and 6 percent, respectively, more mobile content than the average male in April
While none of this is shocking, we were surprised to learn that when considering adoption of new smartphones in April, women chose BlackBerry more often than men at a clip of 49 percent versus 43 percent. Men, on the other hand, prefer Android, with 23 percent of men choosing the Android platform versus 18 percent of women.
We're already smitten with Dropbox, the cloud-based backup software that makes easy work out of synchronizing files across different locations and PCs, but now we're nothing short of love struck. With the release of Dropbox Anywhere for Android, iPad, and BlackBerry, the developers have kicked things up a notch in a huge way.
"With the innovation and growth in mobile computing, the industry is shifting from a PC and desktop centric model to one where our daily computing experience spans multiple devices and locations," said Drew Houston, CEO and founder of Dropbox. "By providing seamless and ubiquitous access to users' files and media in the most popular phones and tablets, Dropbox Anywhere helps deliver on the promise of the new mobile model, and makes using these devices more productive and fun."
Dropbox was already available for the iPhone, and now users of other mobile OSes can access, manage, and share files from a variety of devices. It also includes developer capabilities so that Dropbox's file-access and syncing features can be baked directly into their mobile apps, the company said.
Dropbox for Android and iPad are available now, with the BlackBerry app expected to ship this summer.
Some of my favorite kinds of freeware apps to find (and install) are the ones that build new functionality into the Windows operating system. I'm running Windows 7 right now, but even this latest version of Microsoft's OS has substantial room for third-party improvements.
It's not difficult to find free or open-source apps to boost the common interactions one has with one's operating system. The tough part is in the classification: I'm really not sure how to best lump this week's applications together, save for the fact that they're all awesome ways to enhance Windows with new and useful features. And I'm not talking about super-complex, command-line scripts or what-have-you. No, these apps are all super-easy to use-if you even see them at all, given that most will modify some form of your Windows OS without needing any further interaction past the installation screen.
Anyway, if you can think of a better way to classify this week's Freeware Files other than, "Apps that Make Windows Rock," I'm all ears. Otherwise, click the jump and get ready to take your operating system to new places!
In a time when just about everyone has his or her own free Web show, it only makes sense that you come to the table fully prepared to rock it... with a little help, that is. Or if you aren't the kind of multimedia, Web 2.0 junkie that I'm talking about, then you'll at least want to check out this awesome Web app the next time you have to give a presentation or otherwise impress people with your "impromptu" speaking skills.
I throw that word in quotes, because the Web app Cueprompter.com is akin to one giant cheat sheet for anything you want to type in. Input your text, select a few variables, and Cueprompter will transform your screen into a giant teleprompter--just like what you'd see as a news broadcaster. You can play and pause the scrolling text, alter the speed, and send it in reverse (or forward) to catch up to bits and pieces you might have accidentally missed (blame the assistant).