During my high-school years I got pretty obsessed with a type of music that, in the 70s, didn't quite have a name yet. Musicians like Mike Oldfield (who used multi-track recording equipment to play every instrument on his albums himself) and Jean-Michel Jarre (with his analog synths at the time) captured my imagination and fed my fascination at the intersection of technology and art. Other such artists followed and I drank at that fountain, slowly realising not all of it was necessarily good, but also that it slowly became more common, and easy, to produce music alone, in one's bedroom, with some computer equipment and a MIDI-equipped keyboard.

Fast forward to today and it's amazing what one can achieve with a very limited budget and some curiosity. Talent is of course not a given, but that's less important if all you're looking for is scratching an itch rather than getting famous.

My own "gateway drug" into this world (other than many years ago starting to play with the free and very capable Garageband on MacOS and iOS) was Native Instruments' Komplete Kontrol M32 (approx €129/$120). With such a tool and any somewhat up to date computer running Windows or Mac, the sky is the limit....well, your talent is your limit. But as I said, I'm only scratching an itch here, so for now, I'll just enjoy the "scratching" and I promise not to foist (too much of) it on the outside world.

Talk about a symbiotic relationship: Apple benefits from banks getting in on the Apple Pay game which in return benefits those same banks. Now that sort of relationship might just create its own momentum and spin things up to an even higher level. 

Here is Bank Of America's contribution, though others including Wells Fargo, Citibank and Chase have their own campaigns going. Hopefully we'll see the service pretty soon outside the U.S. as well. 

Hard core mechanical watch aficionados are facing quite a choice with the advent of "smart watches" or "wearables": on the one hand they would want to keep up with the latest trends in "smart anything", and with the Apple Watch due out soon chances are the next big thing in "smart" will be worn on one's wrist, yet at the same time they wouldn't want to give up on their love and fascination of all things mechanical. What is one to do ? The first answer for what may be a new trend comes to us from luxury good makers Montblanc. Rather than give up on the mechanical time piece, this one gets complemented by a smart band attached to the watch and said band would communicate with a smartphone pretty much the way other such products by Jawbone or Fitbit do.

Looking at this example I have to imagine that there will be quite a lot of trial and error before luxury goods makers find the right solution (this one requires wearers to twist their wrists to get to the data) but we might see some creative ideas spring up from luxury good makers over the coming months and this is definitely a space worth watching.

Two concept videos of next generation iPhones: the iPhone Air and the iPhone 6C. Can't say the 6C concept excites me too much, but I really like the Air-concept. See for yourselves.

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AuthorJehuda Saar

Squarespace came out with a line of apps that are just too cool for words. I am testing the Blog app right now while writing these words. The idea is that I should be able to contribute to my site from an iOS device without giving it a second's thought. And you know what ? IT WORKS !!! Amazingly well. I am bound to use this app more often going forward. 

I also recently discovered that anyone can finally have a medium.com blog. So far I only ran a simple test and found that web app to be elegant, simple and fascinating all at once. Blogging is definitely alive and well, and digital reading probably only just in its infancy. Exciting times ahead.  

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AuthorJehuda Saar

It has been a long time since I posted on this site. The move to Geneva and getting back to corporate life will have that effect. But from a tech perspective the move has also been quite interesting, forcing me to get reacquainted with the "wonderful" life of Wintel, and I will no doubt find fresh material to mine on that front. More to come soon. 

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AuthorJehuda Saar

Quite some speculation out there about iOS7. Did Jony Ive have enough time to make dramatic changes to the look of the new operating system ? How "Flat" will the new user interface be ? We'll know in a few weeks, no doubt. But for now we can let our imagination wander. Some have gone as far as creating a concept video of what it might look like. Until WWDC, let's dream.

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AuthorJehuda Saar

Here is another exciting Kickstarter project that is clearly a harbinger of things to come. As you can see in this little video, CamFind's concept is "mobile visual search". Google already introduced this concept with Google Goggles, but the people behind CamFind say their technology is at least 4 times more accurate.

It is however easy to imagine what would happen if you combined this sort of tech with something like Google Glass. In essence the entire process you see here taking place on an iPhone would actually happen right in your field of vision. People around you wouldn't even be aware of the fact that you are busy researching them or checking out how much they paid for their furniture or new outfit. 

Just as exciting as it is creepy, no ?

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AuthorJehuda Saar

A little over a week ago Apple came out with a cute little ad for Christmas. A young girl plays "I'll Be Home for Christmas" to her granddad using FaceTime. 

The makers of the app Futulele have seemingly one-upped Apple with their own version of that song. Very cool, especially since you consider that Apple's ad aired on December 22 and that Futulele's version was uploaded on December 23. The kind of quick turnaround video production I like to be involved with myself.

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AuthorJehuda Saar

Disturbing news: FaceBook might be interested in buying WhatsApp. The question is of course what FB is after. If all they need is the long list of WA users, WA won't be long for this world. If they truly want to continue to provide the WA service, the concern raised at the end of this piece is quite right: how will free and advertising-driven FB deal with the advertising-free and not so free app model that drives WA ? Could make for a messy marriage.

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AuthorJehuda Saar

While browsing around in one of London's Apple Stores I came across a product I had heard about before but hadn't paid much attention to: Philips' Hue Personal Wireless Lighting. The video you can see here makes the product look cool, even though I am not yet sure how useful such a product is once the novelty wears off.

But it was clear that before long someone was going to tinker with the system and come up with some new uses for it. In this case the honour falls to a young man by the name of Brandon Evans who realised that by using the Siri development plugin combined with the fact that the HUE bulbs are IP-controllable, you can end up walking around your house issuing verbal commands to lights and see things change all around you as if my magic. The shape of things to come.

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AuthorJehuda Saar

When Apple introduced the iPad Mini last month, they of course ran an ad for the new machine. The ad was cute, it was the piano ad shown below.

But you knew more would come soon. And Apple did not disappoint. Two new ads were just issued. I find one of them much better than the other and I won't even force you to guess. I think the ad showing off iPhoto is a lot better than the one with iBooks, but judge for yourselves.

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AuthorJehuda Saar

Tomorrow Apple will holding what is expected to be the great iPad (mini) event. Just like with the introduction of the iPhone 5, a lot seems to be known about this new product. Spy photos of pretty much every part of this smaller iPad have been circulating around for weeks now, so not much is left to the imagination. And yet, some crucial things are not known yet:

  • What will be the product's name ?
  • What price points will it sell at ?
  • What sort of screen will it have ?
  • Will it have just WiFi or LTE as well ?

I won't speculate on much of the above. Others are much better equipped to do so. I will make one prediction though. No it won't be about the price. If Apple wanted to deal a death-blow to the rest of the industry, it would price the entry level model at $199. Even the Kindle Fire wouldn't survive that. But, hey, this is Apple we're talking about. Could they sell it at such a price and still make money ? I believe they could. Chances are the display will be non-retina. Apple have achieved economies of scale with the iPhone 3GS and the iPad2 that would enable them to go really low on this one. But they won't. We've heard rumors of prices hovering between $249 and $329. I have no doubt that even at those higher prices Apple will break sales records with these machines, but it won't be as "market-dominating" as pricing at below $200. 

No, my prediction is about something else entirely. Last January Apple took pains to unveil their iBooks strategy, and specifically the iBooks Author program that enables mere mortals to easily create beautiful textbooks for school and college going students. The main bottleneck for the success of that program was the price of the vehicle it required. Very few school districts could afford to buy large quantities of iPads for their students. So the tools were there, but the vehicle went missing. Until tomorrow. I believe that Apple will tout this new iPad category as the ideal school and college companion. I have a feeling much of tomorrow's presentation will focus on that particular function for this new device. Chances are they will introduce a new version of iBooks Author, and maybe even a new version of iBooks itself. 

Of course there will be other highlights: maybe a new retina 13 inch MacBook Pro, possibly a revamped Mac Mini, but in my opinion we should be paying attention to the iBooks move. Many people have had the vision of "a computer for every child" for years now, but this new iPad, whatever its name, could well bring this vision that much closer to reality.

Transient
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AuthorJehuda Saar
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I will be the first to admit: I am a sucker for fancy notebooks and beautiful pens. A few years ago this led me to discover Moleskine notebooks. As much as I enjoy using computers and other digital gear to get things done, I would always come back to manual note-taking for telephone conversations and certain face to face meetings. 

On the other hand you all know me as a sucker for tech and getting things done digitally whenever possible. A few years back this has led me to discover Evernote and I have never looked back since. With Evernote nothing ever gets lost, ideas get recorded and saved to the cloud instantaneously, and you achieve "total recall".  

Now imagine these two concepts somehow meeting: the Moleskine notebook and the Evernote online service. Sounds crazy, right ? Not really: the two companies got together and came up with "The Evernote Smart Notebook designed by Moleskine". I can finally indulge those two seemingly opposing urges of saving things both in the analog as well as the digital space. It seems there are other geeks like me out there. I am not alone anymore, maybe I never was.

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AuthorJehuda Saar
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