Marathon

This trainer was designed specifically for Windows Phone 7, and it shows. Track your duration, distance, pace, and more with easy-to-read type. Swipe to chart your speed and altitude or view your route on a map. Set a goal and the app delivers voice reports on your progress.

Marathon

WIRED Mile-by-mile training details. Works for running, biking, skiing, and hiking. Competition mode lets you race against your previous times.

TIRED Busy background image detracts from the otherwise clean look.

Amazon Mobile

Are you a bargain hunter? Then download this app, which catalogs Amazon’s complete inventory. Next time you’re in a brick-and-mortar store, use the snappy barcode search (iPhone and Android only) to search for better prices. Add an item to your wish list or buy it on the spot with a few taps.

WIRED Search results update as fast as you can type. Offers links to track outstanding orders.

TIRED No way to sort search results by price — pretty lame, given that discounts are Amazon’s big sell.

Zipcar

Zipcar’s 9,000-plus fleet of vehicles has brought the car-share model of urban transport to 15 metropolitan areas in the US, Canada, and the UK. A $60 annual fee gets you in, and rates start at $7.75 an hour (gas included). Tell the app where and when you need a ride, and use the virtual key fob to unlock the car when you arrive.

WIRED Search by vehicle type. Cheaper than car insurance.

TIRED Limited geographic availability. App is slow to load.

Backgrounds

Backgrounds offers hi-res downloadable wallpapers ranging from photos (landscapes, cars, puppies) to swirling psychedelic abstractions. Browse recent additions or dig in by category.

WIRED Updated frequently. Android version has convenient Set as Wallpaper button (iOS users must save to a library first).

TIRED Not curated — at least not by anyone with taste. You have to wade through horrible kitsch to find the good stuff. Banner ads obscure images on iPhone and iPad versions.

SeekDroid

Ever had your phone swiped? This mobile security guard lets you track your device on a web-based map, set it on lockdown, and even wipe out its data to make sure the thievery goes no further. Not sure whether it’s been stolen or just gone missing in your own home? You can sound off an alarm, even if the phone’s set to vibrate.

SeekDroid

WIRED Easy setup requires only a username and password.

TIRED Doesn’t offer SMS-based tracking.

Night Stand HD

The customizable clock faces alone make this a better option than your built-in clock app, not to mention alarm options ranging from birdsong to blood-curdling screams or whatever’s in your iTunes library. For inveterate oversleepers, the app can force you to solve a math puzzle before the alarm shuts off.

Night Stand HD

WIRED Virtually snooze-proof. Add local weather to any clock face.

TIRED Susceptible to digital hiccups, like all software timekeepers.

Cocktail Flow

You don’t need to go to bartending school to whip up a perfect old-fashioned. This app gives you the ingredients, instructions, and whistle-wetting photos of the finished product. Search for a specific cocktail, browse by spirit, or tell the app what’s in your cabinet and get recipes based on what you have on hand.

Cocktail Flow

WIRED Downloadable themed drink packs for St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve.

TIRED Can be as laggy and unresponsive as some real bartenders. Only 114 recipes preinstalled.

5-0 Radio Pro

If we were making an app guide for Nancy Grace, 5-0 Radio Pro would be our top pick. It lets you listen to more than 35,000 live police and fire department radio feeds from around the world. Check your city’s channels for breaking news, or pick one from the Top 100 guide just for kicks.

WIRED Includes definitions of common police codes in each city. You can record the juicy bits as MP3s.

TIRED Feeds are organized by county — tedious for browsing.

Ringdroid

This is the simplest way for Android users to create custom ringtones for their phones. Pick a song from a list of audio files on your device. Then, using the waveform as a guide, just drag markers to your desired starting and ending points and hit Save. Set the new clip as your default ringtone or assign it to a particular contact.

Ringdroid

WIRED Makes ringtones out of voice recordings, too. Can search through your music library from within the app.

TIRED No way to fade in or fade out clips.

Boost Mobile Gives Customers A New Way To Add Credit: Facebook

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In the few months I lived across the pond (where prepaid phone plans are more popular than contracts, go figure), I learned something important about adding credit to your plan, or “topping up” as the Brits would say: it’s a pain in the arse.

Some carriers let you add credit by sending a text, which is pretty awesome, but the more options customers have the better. That said, Boost Mobile is launching a new Facebook app called Re-Boost which will let customers add credit straight from the social network.

The ability to refill your account from Facebook is actually quite awesome, but then the app gets a little strange. Since it’s on Facebook and thus intertwined in your digital relationship playground, you can elicit the help of friends to fill up your mobile account. That’s more of a blast, shooting out a request for more credit to the entirety of your Facebook network.

If that sounds as embarrassing to you as it does to me (but you still happen to need a friend’s help topping up), the Re-Boost app also lets you send a request to specific friends to help you add credit. Of course, with all the various methods of taking from your friends, Boost found it necessary to add some form of giving functionality. That way you can pay back all the friends that have been supporting your mobile lifestyle.

All in all this sounds like a great idea, though all the networking throws me for a loop a bit. You can check out the app now by logging into Facebook, searching “Boost,” and choosing the Re-Boost application.


DROID XYBOARD Tablets Get Official, Hitting Verizon Stores This Month

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Verizon’s been teasing us with them for weeks now, but today the company has finally made things official: Motorola’s LTE-capable DROID XYBOARD tablets will be hitting Verizon stores this month.

For those of you who have managed to miss all the news about Motorola’s latest tablet venture, here are a few of the salient details.

Better known as the XOOM 2 in Europe, the XYBOARD comes in two flavors: one with an 8.2-inch IPS display and another with larger 10.1-inch IPS display. Don’t worry about missing out on performance if you go for one version over the other, as both XYBOARDs share the same 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM under the hood. Both tabs also sport 5-megapixel rear cameras, along with a 1.3-megapixel front-facer, and an IR transmitter for controlling your home theater.

On the application side, the XYBOARDs come Motorola’s MOTOCAST media streaming software, QuickOffice HD, Citrix GoToMeeting, and the usual suite of Google appa. Handwriting input buffs may also want to take note of the 10.1-inch XYBOARD, as it ships with a stylus meant to make doodling cats on the screen even easier than before.

But how much will all that cost you? The 10.1-inch XYBOARD comes in three memory variants: you can score a 16GB model for $529.99, a 32GB model for $629.99 and the king-sized 64 GB for $729.99. If you prefer the smaller 8.2-inch model, prices are a little more reasonable. There are only two models to choose from: 16GB for $429.99 and 32GB for $529.99. All of these prices are with a two-year contract, so think long and hard about whether or not the XYBOARDs are right for you.

You’ll need to pony up an extra monthly charge if you want to take advantage of the XYBOARD’s speedy LTE connection, too: prices for Verizon’s data plans start at $30 for 2GB of bandwidth.

Verizon also snuck in an announcement confirming the existence of a white Droid RAZR. I’m sure that news won’t be as exciting to some of you as it is to me, but fans of chromatically pure devices have one more to add to the list. Motorola has also pledged that all three of the newly-announced devices will get access to Android 4.0 (a.k.a Ice Cream Sandwich), so here’s hoping they get access to the code sooner rather than later.


Overstock.com Teams With Barnes & Noble For eBook Storefront

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Overstock.com is looking to expand its brand into the realm of ebooks. But the online retailer is doing it a tad differently. Instead of signing partnerships with publishers, building a vertical retail platform and establishing a presence in the marketplace, the company briefly known as O.co simply inked a deal with ebook giant Barnes & Noble. Easy peasy ebook squeezy.

The partnership is only skin deep, though. Overstock.com/ebooks, the site’s new ebook subsite, is simply a portal to B&N. Clicking on a book directs buyers to the book’s B&N product page where the purchase can be completed. Even the genre pages redirects to the appropriate page at BN.com.

To go alone with the new ebook offering, Overstock.com is hawking a refurbished Nook Color for $149.00. “As the number one seller of refurbished NOOK® devices we are pleased to partner with Barnes & Noble to expand our product offering so that our customers have fast, easy access to the breadth of digital content that Barnes & Noble offers,” said Overstock.com President Jonathan Johnson said in a released statement today.

Terms of the partnership were not released.


Need Tunes For An Indie Film? Audiosocket Launches A Fully Hosted Music Storefront

IndieFlix - License

Audiosocket, the Music-as-a-Service platform provider, is today launching its own Music-as-a-Service Storefront. (Yep, in acronym lingo, that’s a “MaaS.”) The company already powers the backend of the Vimeo’s Music Store, allowing for the integration of appropriately licensed tunes into online videos. Now, with the new hosted service, Audiosocket aims to connect indie musicians and digital media companies, including launch partners IndieFlixThe National Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) and a new e-learning company LearnCreate.

The MaaS Storefront will offer AudioSocket’s catalog of over 33,000 pre-cleared songs from emerging artists in need of discovery and distribution to others in content creation communities, specifically those who are also focused on supporting indie artists themselves. (Well, those are the most likely partners for this service, that is.) The Storefront will be provided as white label offering which partners can customize, brand, and have up in running within 24 hours.

For example, IndieFlix, which likes to call itself the “Netflix for indie films,” says it gets a lot of submissions where the music hasn’t been properly licensed. Until now, it has had to spend its own time and money to resolve these problems, the company reports. With the Audiosocket Storefront, though, IndieFlix will be able to simplify this process. With the IndieFlix Storefront, available here, filmmakers can now browse and search for music by genre, mood, tempo, vocal, themes or instruments.

This isn’t the first deployment for Audiosocket’s “MaaS” – Vimeo’s Music Store was. But where that was a custom integration designed just for the Vimeo website, you can think of this one as “Vimeo Lite.” Instead of a full-on integration, this is a hosted product, a plug-and-play music storefront that anyone could use.

More details on the Audiosocket Storefront will be available from the company website: audiosocket.com.


Red Hat releases Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2

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Today Red Hat announces the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2, the latest iteration of their flagship Linux distribution. I don’t usually cover every point release of every Linux distribution, but since I’ve covered recent releases from Canonical and SUSE I thought I’d give Red Hat some coverage, too.

RHEL 6.2 is in some ways a remarkable release, and in other ways completely uninteresting. It’s uninteresting in that there are no real surprises: this is a regularly scheduled update to the RHEL 6 product line, and it was released right on time. Red Hat customers have driven most of what’s included in this release, in the form of bug reports and feature requests.

RHEL 6.2 is uninteresting, too, because Red Hat’s promise to their enterprise customers is API and ABI compatibility for the life of the product. But this is also a reason why this release is so interesting.

Maintaining API and ABI compatibility on a complex suite of inter-related free software projects is no small task even on a short term basis. To manage it over a couple of years requires careful planning, attention to detail, and impressive staff talent. After all, companies are using Red Hat Enterprise Linux with the expectation that their servers will work exactly the same way for nearly a decade.

But the technology driving Linux development doesn’t stay the same for that same period of time. In addition to continuous kernel improvements, there’s whole swathes of new technologies rapidly evolving — KVM and Xen virtualization, filesystem advancements, and more — as well as the regular feature updates to the ecosystem of free software that go into a modern distribution: web servers, programming languages, support libraries, and more. Red Hat’s customers want to use these whiz-bang new features, but still enjoy long-term support offerings. It’s a delicate balancing act, and in that regard the release of RHEL 6.2 is utterly fascinating.

According to Tim Burke, VP of Linux Engineering at Red Hat, more changes (updates, bug fixes, etc) went into RHEL 6.2 than the entirety of what went into Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 4, which was released in February, 2005. The list of RHEL 6.2 enhancements (PDF) is impressive, and includes a host of physical and virtual guest performance enhancements, improved management controls, and more. Also included are a variety technology previews of essentially beta software that people want to play with and that Red Hat wants to evaluate, like Parallel NFS and Linux containers.

“Red Hat is the leading innovator in Linux development,” claimed Burke. Certainly Red Hat is doing something right, as they’ve enjoyed 38 sequential quarters of successful growth all the while making predictable, sustainable releases for their customers.


A New Twist On Gift Cards: Dropost.it Lets You Leave Money For Friends At Any Location

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Dropost.it is a clever little service that allows you to drop gifts for friends which are geo-tagged to specific locations. These gifts, which you can think of as virtual gift cards purchased via the Dropost.it service, can only be accessed when the recipient visits a specific location. Initially, the service works over PayPal, but the company is working towards deeper integration with mobile wallets, including NFC-based wallet systems, like Google Wallet.

Beyond facilitating the gift-giving process, Dropost.it is also working on a feature that will help you figure out what gifts to buy your friends (this piece hasn’t yet launched). To do so, Dropost.it will pull in data from Facebook, including friends’ likes and interests, but it will also work with social data from Foursquare and Twitter in the future. (And yes, haters, you will need a Facebook account to log in today).

The idea is that you’ll be able to use the service to figure out what places your friends typically visit – that is, the restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail stores, etc. that they favorite. This is especially helpful when you’re buying for acquaintances whose personal interests you may not know too well, or when you’re buying for friends who live out of town.

After the gift is purchased (with a small fee), the recipient is emailed a message that includes an optional video greeting from the gift-giver, for a more personalized experience. The email also includes a link to download the accompanying Dropost.it mobile application (HTML5 first, then iOS and Android). To claim the gifted funds, the recipient just launches the app upon arrival at the given venue. As a service that works over PayPal, of course, this isn’t ideal, since the money isn’t instantly available in the recipient’s bank account unless they use the PayPal Debit Card. But further down the road, when mobile wallet usage is more prevalent, something like Dropost.it could be a useful way to surprise friends with instant gifts that are available immediately.

In addition to the consumer-facing angle, merchants can also participate in Dropost.it to set up their own promotions (aka “drops”) wherever they choose. They could allocate $1,000 in $5 increments to encourage foot traffic, for example, or they could use a series of drops to create a scavenger hunt-style game.

While the idea of a geo-tagged gifting platform may be a bit ahead of its time, the idea of parsing friends’ social networking profiles for recommendations is right on schedule. Even the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, is just now figuring out how to use Facebook profile data to personalize offers to individual consumers. With Dropost.it’s insights into your friends real-world behavior, you have a better shot at something they’d actually like than you do when standing at the large, impersonal gift card aisle at the drug store. Even though geo-tagged gifts are a neat trick, it’s these social recommendations (when launched) that may end up being the service’s killer feature.

Dropost.it, however, doesn’t have the resources of a Walmart behind it, just a bit of  seed funding from Tampa’s TechStars Network member, Gazelle Lab, and two high-energy founders Orrett Davis and  Ty Mathen. Prior to today’s launch, Dropost.it lined up Bob Schwartz, President of Magento and Jim Bennette, CEO of VisiStat, as advisors along with a local business leader, Tampa Bay’s John Walsh, President of Walsh Solutions.

The Dropost.it site went live this morning. Considering the startup’s early stage, here’s hoping it stay up-and-running.