Nick Peers

Firefox 55 unveils performance improvements and new features aplenty

Mozilla has unveiled one of the biggest updates to Firefox yet with its release of Firefox 55.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux. Firefox for Android 55.0 is also due imminently.

Firefox 55’s many highlights include instant restoration of browsing sessions with a large number of tabs, the ability to reposition the sidebar and a feature for grabbing screenshots of web pages direct from the browser itself.

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LibreOffice 5.4 adds more new features, improves Office file format compatibility

The Document Foundation has unveiled LibreOffice 5.4 64-bit and LibreOffice 5.4 32-bit. Again, it’s on time, arriving six months after the release of LibreOffice 5.3.

LibreOffice 5.4 is "the last major release of the LibreOffice 5.x family", and like other point releases is a major one, adding features across all components and incrementally improving compatibility with Microsoft Office document formats.

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Firefox 8.0 for iOS adds Night Mode, QR Code Reader and improved user experience

These days, it’s Google and Chrome that dominates the web browser market, with even Microsoft slipping behind and everyone else playing the role of also-rans. Mozilla has suffered more than most -- since dipping below Chrome into third place in 2011, it’s never looked like recovering that market share, but the non-profit is attempting to find itself a niche by playing the outsider card.

If there’s one platform where Mozilla has particularly struggled to gain a foothold, it’s iOS. Can the latest release -- Firefox for iOS 8.0.1 -- change that?

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Malwarebytes AdwCleaner 7.0 heralds complete rewrite of adware removal tool

Malwarebytes has released AdwCleaner 7.0, a major new version of its portable Windows tool for removing adware, unwanted toolbars, PUPs and browser hijackers. It’s the first major update since Malwarebytes acquired AdwCleaner back in October 2016.

AdwCleaner 7.0 arrives as a completely rewritten piece of software, complete with brand new user interface, database system and the promise of more effective removal and faster scan times.

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Backup and Sync from Google launched for Windows and Mac

Google has released Backup and Sync from Google 3.35 for Windows and Mac. The tool replaces its Drive and Photos desktop apps (both discontinued), and provides a one-stop desktop tool for backing up and syncing files to Google Drive and Photos.

The new tool also introduces a new backup function, which allows users to back up selected folders on their computers without having to tie them into their Google Drive folder.

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Give your text a spell and grammar check with Grammarly 1.5 for Windows and Mac

Correct spelling and grammar is something of a dying art these days. Rather than embark on a rant, however, let us gently direct you towards a superb online tool for helping to bring your language skills up to scratch with the minimum of fuss.

Grammarly 1.5 takes this online spellchecker and grammar correction tool on to your Windows PC or Mac -- now you can keep on top of all your documents.

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Speccy 1.31 improves Creators Update compatibility, provides system information for Windows PCs

Piriform has released Speccy 1.31 and Speccy Portable 1.31, an updated version of its system information tool for Windows PCs. Version 1.31 comes with the promised of improved compatibility with the recent Creators Update release of Windows 10, and provides users with the ability to get detailed stats about their computer for diagnostic or sharing purposes.

Speccy 1.31 also improves the 32-build version’s architecture and comes with updated GPU information and sensor tracking along with the usual minor tweaks: improved localization and languages support, minor GUI improvements and minor bug fixes.

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Free Dictate add-on allows you to, well, dictate to Microsoft Office

Microsoft Garage -- the Redmond behemoth’s R&D arm -- has released Dictate 5.0, a free add-on for those running Microsoft Office 2013, 2016 or 365 on Windows 8.1 or later. Also available for 64-bit versions of Office, Dictate brings dictation capabilities to Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The app uses the same speech recognition engine found in Cortana to convert user speech into editable text using whatever microphone has been configured as the user’s default.

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Firefox 54 extends multiprocess feature to promise faster, more stable browser

Mozilla has released Firefox 54.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux, with Firefox for Android 54.0 due imminently. Firefox 54 focuses largely on one major development: support for multi-content processes, which basically gives Firefox the ability to split itself into multiple system processes for faster, more stable browsing.

The new feature -- project Electrolysis (also referred to as "e10s") has been rolling out slowly since the release of Firefox 48, when a select band of users were given a version of Firefox that could split itself into two processes: one for its user interface, the other for content. That feature has since rolled out to virtually all users.

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Turn your phone or tablet into a mobile scanner with Adobe Scan

Adobe has released Adobe Scan 17.05.31 for iPhone, iPad and Android mobiles. The app allows users to turn their mobile camera into a scanner for various types of paper document, including receipts and magazine pages.

Apps that turn your phone or tablet into a portable scanner are two-a-penny, so at first glance Adobe Scan looks like a very late gate crasher to a party that’s already in full flow. But it claims one major advantage over its rivals: OCR support for free.

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Ashampoo WinOptimizer 15 revamps user interface, tweaks tools for faster performance

Windows utilities specialist Ashampoo GmbH has released Ashampoo WinOptimizer 15.0, a major new update of its Windows maintenance and optimization tool.

Version 15 has been rebuilt around making the program easier to use via a new usability concept and more intuitive user interface. It’s also fine-tuned many of its system maintenance tools for significant performance improvements.

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Opera is Reborn: Opera 45 debuts built-in chat tools and UI improvements

Opera Software has released Opera 45.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s been codenamed "Reborn" because it’s the first release to include features previewed earlier this year in its concept browser Opera Neon.

These new features include embedded social messaging apps into the pinned sidebar alongside major user interface improvements and tweaks to the browser’s ad-blocking function to make it more configurable.

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MediaPortal adds automatic media-scraping, Windows Media Center-inspired skin

Team MediaPortal has released a major update of its open-source media server and center for Windows. MediaPortal 2.1 opens with completely reworked media management tools, with a wide array of content now automatically scraped for metadata and artwork.

Users gain better visual indicators of watched series and individual movies, plus a number of new skins make their debut, including one aimed squarely at Windows Media Center users.

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O&O FileDirect 1.0 makes ad-hoc file sharing swift, safe and simple

O&O Software has released O&O FileDirect 1.0, a brand new freeware file-sharing tool for PCs running Windows 7 or up.

The program makes it easy -- and safe -- for users to share individual files through a secure web link, which recipients can access through their own web browser. Files are transferred directly from the end user’s computer -- no cloud storage is utilized.

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Kiwi for Gmail 2.0 arrives on Windows, runs Google services in a desktop app

Zive, Inc has released Kiwi for Gmail 2.0 for PC users, migrating its popular Mac tool of the same name to the Windows platform.

Kiwi for Gmail will appeal to those Google aficionados who are currently accessing Google services -- primarily Gmail (including mail, calendar and contacts), but also Google’s G-Suite office apps -- through their web browser.

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