Uberdownloads Blog
Tap That App: uTorrent Remote

Torrents are source of much legal controversy, which is a shame because the format is a great way to distribute all kinds of content. BitTorrent is working on raising awareness of torrents that share content legally with its Vodo network, and the company has now provided an Android companion app.

uTorrent Remote works with the next generation of the uTorrent client to find and manage torrents on your computer from your phone or tablet. The killer feature? uTorrent Remote’s playback. Watch this episode of Tap That App to see what it can do.

W3C: Microsoft anti-tracking idea worth exploring

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(Credit:
Microsoft)

The World Wide Web Consortium has approved and published a new browser privacy feature from Microsoft, according to a new IE blog post, opening up for discussion and debate whether the feature should become a Web standard.

Found in the recent release candidate of Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft’s new Tracking Protection Lists offer IE users a type of “do not track” feature to help them block advertisers and Web sites from tracking and capturing certain data. The feature works via lists of Web site domains that are downloaded to the browser. If a domain name is on the list, the browser will “call” that site only if the user visits it directly, thereby controlling the information that can be collected by third-party sites.

Responsible for defining Web standards, including those for the nascent HTML5, the W3C has of late been turning its attention to the area of online privacy and sees Microsoft’s proposal as “both timely and well-aligned” with its own goals and priorities.

With online privacy such a hot-button issue, other parties have naturally been getting into the act as well.

The Federal Trade Commission has been calling for a “do not track” option for browser users. Google recently added a new extension to Chrome to help people opt out of online ads, while Mozilla has implemented a type of blocking feature in its latest beta build of Firefox 4.

Though such “do not track” features offer clear benefits to consumers and Internet users, online advertisers and other third parties have naturally expressed some concerns. As such, the W3C will open the floor for a variety of different players to chime in on Microsoft’s proposed solution.

“We expect to engage a broad set of stakeholders, including implementers from the mobile and desktop space; large and small content delivery providers; advertisement networks; search engines; policy and privacy experts; experts in consumer protection; and developers and operators of Services on the Web that make use of consumer tracking,” the consortium said.

Moving forward, the W3C added that it will host a workshop at Princeton University on April 28 and 29 to determine the level of support for the proposed feature, with an official announcement expected in early March.

Originally posted at News – Microsoft

FaceTime for Mac out of beta
FaceTime for Mac is now available. width="270" height="161"/>

FaceTime for Mac is out.

(Credit:
Apple)

Mac owners can now download FaceTime for video chats with friends.

Apple said today that FaceTime for Mac is available in its Mac App Store for 99 cents. With the help of the app, those using Mac OS X Snow Leopard can engage in video chats with people using the FaceTime app on the iPhone 4, the latest iPod Touch, and other Macs.

Apple first announced FaceTime for Mac back in October. At the time, the software was in beta. As of today, it is officially out of beta.

FaceTime for Mac lets people see video in standard definition or in HD up to 720p resolution. If someone calls a person on the Mac, the computer rings, regardless of whether FaceTime is running or not. In addition, if an Apple account is linked to multiple installations of FaceTime, calls ring on all the computers running the software.

Originally posted at The Digital Home

Features locked, Firefox Mobile revs its engine

If there were three words to describe Mozilla’s biggest concerns with the mobile version of its browser, they would be: speed, speed, and speed. The company released today Firefox Mobile 4 beta 5 for Android 2.1 and higher and Maemo with no major new features or feature improvements, instead choosing to make this release about improving the browser’s performance.

Mozilla is claiming noticeable improvements in start-up speed, page load speed, and JavaScript rendering speed. The company also said in its Firefox 4 Mobile beta 5 release notes that it intends to continue to focus on “reducing memory and optimizing CPU usage.” To that end, it specifically calls out its key Sync feature as one area ripe for improvement.

Firefox 4 beta 5 on Android is actually slightly smaller than the fourth beta (see slideshow), clocking in at 13.5MB as compared with 13.7MB last time. The size of Firefox on your phone will continue to be large because it uses its own JavaScript and rendering engines, separate from the default browser. To help users on older Android-using hardware, the browser will now migrate its profile data to the SD card when the application itself is moved to the SD card on Android 2.2 or higher.

In brief hands-on use on a Dell Streak 5 running Android 2.2, the browser felt snappy. Using multiple add-ons didn’t feel like it slowed down the browser, either, perhaps a sign that add-on integration has matured in this beta. There’s not much else to this version of the browser, so please let us know what you think of Firefox for Android in the comments below.

Tiny Wings for iOS: Discover the joy of flight


It may not look like much, but Tiny Wings could be the best bird-based game since that one with the pigs. width="270" height="180"/>

It may not look like much, but Tiny Wings could be the best bird-based game since that one with the pigs.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Rick Broida)

I just figured out why the Angry Birds are so angry: it’s because they can’t fly! They have to be flung, and even then they get only a few seconds of airtime before suffering rapid-deceleration trauma. I’d be ticked off, too.

In Tiny Wings, there’s just one bird, and all he wants to do is fly. It’s your job to help him, to keep him flying fast, far, and just ahead of ever-encroaching nightfall. Once you get the hang of the flight mechanic, you’ll find yourself thoroughly, hopelessly addicted, always wanting to try “just one more time” to see if you can get a little farther.

Your adorably fat little bird slowly propels himself over the hills and valleys of the various islands that serve as the game’s levels. The only “control” is your finger, which you tap and hold when he’s sliding down a hill and release on the upturn. Time it right and our hero soars skyward.

If you tap and hold while he’s airborne, he instantly gets “heavy,” plummeting back toward the ground. The idea is to time it so he plummets right onto a downward slope, which in turn gives him more speed for the next jump–and sends him flying higher and farther.

This isn’t hard by any means, but it took me a few tries to get the knack of it. From there, the fun lies in seeing how many successive jumps (and “cloud touches”) you can pull off, and in nose-diving at just the right time to collect the occasional power-ups that litter the ground.

I love Tiny Wings’ soothing pastel colors (which, according to the developer, change from day to day) and New Agey background music. It’s the kind of game you’d want to play while lounging in the bathtub at the end of a hard day.

Is it perfect? Not quite. Although Tiny Wings does have objectives, it’s fairly repetitive. Each island is pretty much the same as the last (except for how it’s colored), and there’s no support for GameCenter (yet–it’s in the works).

That said, this is the best 99 cents I’ve spent in a while. If you’re sick of Angry Birds, tired of Cut the Rope, and done with Cover Orange (which I still think is woefully underrated), Tiny Wings might just be your next big addiction.

One last thing: I think the little birdie needs a name. For some reason I want to call him Floyd. Anyone have any better suggestions?

Originally posted at iPhone Atlas

Avast wants you playing in its sandbox

New security features designed to keep its more than 110 million users safe debut in Avast 6, released today exclusively from CNET Download.com. They also have the added benefit of raising the competitive bar in computer security by pushing more and better free options to users. Avast Free Antivirus 6, Avast Pro Antivirus 6, and Avast Internet Security 6 all feature the new AutoSandbox and the WebRep browser add-on. (Click the links to get to the download page.)

The debut of the AutoSandbox makes Avast the second antivirus to offer a sandboxing tool for free. Comodo introduced a sandboxing tool in January 2010. Avast’s sandbox probably works differently, as Comodo has a pending patent on its version. And certainly, one of the most frustrating things about sandboxing technology is that there are some indications that it doesn’t work perfectly.

All that being said, Avast’s version automatically places programs into a virtualized state when it suspects them of being threats. It walls off suspicious programs, preventing them from potentially damaging your system while allowing them to run. Avast’s sandbox allows the program to run, while keeping track of which files are opened, created, or renamed, and what it reads and writes from the Registry. Since permanent changes are virtualized, so when the process terminates itself, the system changes it made will evaporate.

The company hasn’t said whether the virtualized state begins after the program already has access to your system, so it’s theoretically possible that it could be compromised. There’s not a single security feature in any program that hasn’t been been compromised at some point, though, so “theoretically hackable” is true of all security features.

You can access the AutoSandbox settings from the new Additional Protection option on the left nav. It defaults to asking the user whether a program should be sandboxed, although you can set it to automatically decide. There’s a whitelist option for programs that you always want to exclude from the sandbox, and you can deactivate the feature entirely.

Avast 6 also marks the debut of the program joining (or succumbing to) the browser-security add-on. Security add-ons have a long-standing word-of-mouth reputation for decreasing browser performance, although Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate’s impact meter pegs Avast’s plug-in at 0.07 seconds. Avast calls its add-on WebRep.

WebRep works with IE and Firefox out of the box, and plans for a Chrome version soon, according to company representatives. It supports a search result ranking and Web site reputation service that uses a combination of data from Avast’s virus labs and user voting to determine a safety score for a site. User voting is a crapshoot of a gamble for many security vendors, although Avast is known for its vast user base and their passionate support of the program, so the company’s plans to incentivize user voting could easily work in their favor.

It’s important to note that the add-on installs to both Firefox and IE as you install Avast 6. If you don’t want it, it’s surprisingly easier to remove from within Avast instead of within the browser. Currently, removing the add-on using the browser’s interface will cue Avast to re-install the add-on the next time the computer is rebooted.

Many of Avast’s small changes are worth noting as well. The Troubleshooting section now comes with a “restore factory settings” option, which makes it easier to wipe settings back to a familiar starting point, and comes with the option to restore only the Shields settings. There’s a new sidebar gadget for Windows 7 and Vista, and you now can set automatic actions for the boot-time scan. Two features that have trickled down to the free version are the Script Shield and site blocking. The Script Shield now works with Internet Explorer 8 and 9’s protected mode. Meanwhile, the paid versions have gained some new features, such as SafeZone, a virtualization feature for secure online banking. Avast has said that the installer has shrunk for all three versions by about 20 percent.

Avast 6 has done much to quash bugs since its release about a month ago. For a look at where it was, you can check out my hands-on take on Avast 6 here.

The heightened competition between Internet security vendors is that both free and paid-only suites are continually struggling to provide the next big thing. Avast 6 looks at both improving its feature set and leveraging its massive anonymously contributed user data base to enhance security, both of which are sensible steps towards stronger home computer security.

Windows 7’s first service pack arrives
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Today marks an important milestone for Windows 7: the arrival of its first service pack since the operating system’s release in late 2009.

Service Pack 1 was released to manufacturers earlier this month, with the announcement that it would arrive in consumers’ hands this week. The software is set to hit Windows Update later today, with it already being posted as a 1.95GB download bundle for all versions on Microsoft’s Download Center. TechNet subscribers and Microsoft volume license customers got access to the update last week.

Microsoft says the standalone update package should weigh in at 527MB for x86 users, about 903MB for x64 users, and 511MB for users on Itanium chips. In Windows Update, the download sizes are much smaller:

Windows 7 SP1 download sizes (by delivery method) width="611" height="351"/>

Windows 7 SP1 download sizes (by delivery method)

(Credit:
Microsoft)

The service pack doesn’t bring any new whiz-bang features for consumers, but it includes two important back end additions that promise to improve performance in Windows 7’s server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 R2. The update adds Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX, technologies that increase, respectively, the density of virtual machines and the graphical prowess of thin-client hardware (more on those here). The RemoteFX feature is also coming to the consumer version of Windows 7 in the form of client-side support.

Also included in SP1 are a number of fixes for bugs and security holes, which may be useful for those who don’t use the auto-update feature or are applying the update to machines that don’t have an active Internet connection. Other small changes include improved HDMI audio-device performance, a fix for printing mixed-orientation XPS documents, and “improved support” for Advanced Format storage devices.

SP1 first appeared in beta form in July of last year, with its first release candidate hitting the company’s testing channels in October. Leaks of the release for the manufacturers’ version of the software appeared on file-sharing networks last month.

Originally posted at News – Microsoft

Miniaturize your world and play an RTS remake: iPhone apps of the week
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(Credit:
CNET)

Among the news items this week from the world of Apple, the folks over at AppleInsider uncovered a rumor that Apple may be having a launch event next week for a new line of MacBook Pros. According to the story, this would put the launch event a week ahead of schedule.

As usual, Apple remains tight-lipped about what features will be unveiled in the new laptops, but the one sure thing is that it will include Intel’s latest generation Sandy Bridge processor.

Whatever is introduced next week (if the rumor turns out to be true), you can bet we’ll have all the details here. Make sure to check back on launch day for photos, specs, and everything else about Apple’s latest devices.

This week’s apps include an image enhancement tool that produces cool-looking shots and an RTS game that closely resembles one of the most popular strategy games of all time.

TiltShift Generator width="192" height="288"/>

Each step of the process lets you tinker with various controls to fine-tune your photo.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

TiltShift Generator (99 cents) is not a new product, but I just discovered it and think people will appreciate its unique photo effects. TiltShift images combine blur and other depth-of-field effects to make objects in your photos seem miniature (here’s a quick Google image search to give you an idea what I’m talking about). To get the miniature effect, you’ll ideally take photos from some distance, but even close-up shots can be put through TiltShift Generator with good-looking results.

TiltShift Generator does a great job of taking you through the process of creating tilt-shift images. The app automatically adds the tilt-shift effect, but you can also go through the process yourself. You start either by taking a photo with your iPhone camera or choosing an existing image from your library. From there you can adjust the blurred effect; change color saturation, brightness, and contrast with sliders; and then adjust vignetting (corner shadowing). What results is a unique image that’s very impressive, even if you have little knowledge of photography.

Overall, TiltShift Generator is an easy-to-use app that produces great-looking images with little work. If you enjoy looking at tilt-shift images and want to try making some of your own, this app is a great option.

StarFront: Collision width="320" height="213"/>

Once you’ve built your fighting force, it’s time to take it into battle.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

StarFront: Collision (Free; $6.99 in-app purchase) from Gameloft is a pretty clear rip-off of Blizzard’s mega-hit RTS game, Starcraft. With that said, StarFront is a very well-made game and is probably the best RTS game available for the iPhone.

Just like Starcraft, StarFront has three classes, each with its own strategies and tech trees, and each closely resembling the Starcraft classes. It offers a single-player campaign mode that slowly introduces you to the ins and outs of RTS gameplay, just like Starcraft. You’ll need to mine resources, build buildings, build units, upgrade your buildings, and upgrade your units, just like in Starcraft. But even with all its similarities, StarFront: Collision does all of these things well, all the way down to the quirky things units say when you interact with them. The storyline is well thought out and engaging, the graphics are crisp on the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, and the controls are extremely smart for a touch-screen device.

As an example of the smart controls, you can create and save groups of units so you can later call on an entire squad to perform an action. You do this by using a two-finger reverse pinch to create a selection square around the units, then touch the arrow on the left side of the screen to pull out a squad selection drawer. Choose a number from 1 to 3, and that number will be assigned to the squad. Though limiting your squads to three might be an issue for some players, StarFront’s unique system for creating groups is very intuitive on the touch screen.

StarFront: Collision is free to download from the App Store, and includes the tutorial and the ability to play through the first mission to get a feel for the game. An in-app purchase of $6.99 unlocks local and online multiplayer and the full campaign and skirmish modes. The online multiplayer was smooth in our testing, with quick online matchups and no loss of connection during games. There was only one point at which the game notified me I needed to wait for the other player, but after a couple of seconds we were back to the action.

Probably my only complaint about StarFront: Collision is the same as other involved games on the iPhone: how long does someone really want to play a game on the iPhone? Eventually, the need for your constant focus and concentration on the small screen will get exhausting, but in every other area, this game is pretty close to what Starcraft on the iPhone would be if it were made by Blizzard.

Overall, I consider StarFront: Collision a must-download for RTS fans, with 20 missions, endless replay value on seven maps in skirmish mode, along with local and online multiplayer. Furthermore, if Gameloft decides to release an HD version for the iPad or make the app universal, the larger screen real estate will make the game even more enjoyable.

What’s your favorite iPhone app? Do you like the results you get from TiltShift Generator? What do you think of StarFront: Collision? Let me know in the comments!

An early look at Firefox 5

Firefox 4 hasn’t even been fully baked and served up yet, but that’s not stopping Mozilla from pushing ahead with plans for Firefox 5.

In this slideshow, we get a sense of some of the ideas that Mozilla is toying with for the next version of the browser, including Mozilla’s version of Internet Explorer 9’s pinned sites feature, a redesigned add-on updater workflow, and heavy promotion of Firefox Sync.

Tap That App: Mint

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret: I love math. It may seem out of character for someone who spends her days manipulating the English language, but there you have it. This is a roundabout way of explaining that I actually enjoy tinkering with budgets, which is why I’m a big fan of the Mint app for Android and iOS.

I know financial software isn’t the most titillating subject for most people, but Mint’s mobile app is worth a download no matter what your predilections. This handy program lets you track all of your financial information–from checking and savings to loans and credit cards–in one streamlined interface. Check out the above video for a closer look.