Sunday, April 13th, 2014


If there are smartwatches, there are featurewatches. Meet the Touch Time #

Just as your smartphones had some competition with features phones and their limited apps, longer battery life, and in many cases better designs, so the smartwatches of the world have the oncoming storm of the featurewatches. Starting with the Phosphor Touch Time:

Just like the feature phone, the Touch Time stands out against a field of smartwatches thanks to a limited but focused set of applications. Through these applications, and the hardware in the watch, the idea of a smartwatch is implied. The capacitive touch-screen, as well as contributing to the name, also allows a smartwatch like UI to be employed. Switching between the top level screens is accomplished by a swipe across the screen to either the right or the left; app selection is through a tap on the screen; and switching through views in each individual application is accomplished with either an upwards or downwards swipe.

The UI is consistent across the seven applications, the settings screen, and the clock faces. That’s important in a small piece of consumer technology, so congratulations to Phosphor for focusing on the UI to enable this consistency

Read more of my thoughts at Forbes.

Saturday, April 12th, 2014


Seven days of Apple action in my latest Forbes column #

Users flocking to iOS 7, teenagers ready to spend $350 on an iWatch, US market share continues to rise, paperwork from the patent case, product predictions, Lightroom Mobile, Sir Jony Ive’s collection of workers, and Facebook is pushing their Messenger app.  Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many things that happened around Apple over the last seven days.

Apple Loop continues on Forbes. This week’s round up is ready to read….

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014


Gabe Rivera talks about Techmeme with Business Insider #

I always love how articles about Techmeme (the company) focus on Techmeme and do a tiny bit of lip service to Mediagazer and Memeorandum (which Rivera says is still running on ‘automatic’ with no Editor curation), they always seem to forget about the MLB portal Ballbug.

I get the feeling Rivera keeps the sports section going for himself…

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014


I feel a great freemium disturbance in The Force #

What the world needs is another poorly implemented collectible card game on a mobile phone, with far too many freemium elements grafted on top of it. But it’s okay, because this one has a Star Wars theme…

Er, no. See my review of Star Wars: Assault Team on All About Windows Phone for the reasons against.

Sunday, March 30th, 2014


My Apple highlights from the last seven days #

I;ve been keeping an eye on Forbes’ weekly Apple column, ‘Apple Loop‘,  over the last few weeks. This week’s column covers a number of areas, including the ‘honestly we don’t know if it’s an Apple Store or not’ on Princes Street here in Edinburgh.

The iPhone 6 screen size is debated online, Microsoft Office arrives on the iPad, staff are being sought for the iWatch, Mavericks reaches 40%, what is happening with the sapphire production, diversity in emojis, iBeacons at MLB parks, and the secret Scottish Apple store plans are a little less secret.Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many things that happened around Apple over the last seven days.

Read this week’s Apple Loop over on Forbes.

Friday, March 21st, 2014


Two Grown Men… The Podcast Of The Aftermath #

This should be fun. The Carson Podcast interviews comedians who have one thing in common – they all got their big break from Johnny Carson and ‘The Tonight Show’ Now available in iTunes and via RSS.

Thursday, March 20th, 2014


Sailfish OS leaves beta #

Jolla’s Sailfish OS has been updated to v1.0.4.20  (and Jolla Users has the full change-log).

It’s still not perfect in terms of code (as witnessed by the known exceptions’ still listed), and in terms of usability by the general public I’m still not sold on Jolla’s Sailfish OS. But in terms of maturity and flexibility, it’s definitely there. I’ve had my UK Business SIM in the Jolla handset since January this year, including my time on the ground in Austin at SXSW.

As I’ve said before, Jolla reminds me a lot of Psion, out on the cutting edge, a small but vocal group of supporters, working away on their OS until it’s ready to make a huge impact in the market.


Practical Lego Examples #

Yes it’s a big listicle, but it’s Lego in the real world, which is always a win. Especially the ‘advanced phone dock‘.

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014


Remembering the ‘Sis… Boom… Bah…’ of late-night #

Delightful archive article from 1978 on The Tonight Show, and a look at Johnny Carson’s reign on late-night US television. I wonder if we’ll look back at Fallon’s time with such detail and honesty?

During the monologue on May 11, 1977, he finds, as sometimes happens, that certain words are emerging from his mouth in slightly garbled form. He wrinkles his brow in mock alarm, shrugs, and presses on to the next sentence: “Yetserday, U.S. Steel announced. . .” He pauses, realizing what he has said, turns quizzically to McMahon, and observes, “ ‘Yesterday’ is not a hard word to say.”

Facing the camera again, he goes on, “Yesterday—all my troubles seemed so far away . . .” Only now he is singing—singing, unaccompanied, the celebrated standard by John Lennon and Paul McCartney: “Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.” By this time, the band, which was clearly taken by surprise, has begun to join in, at first raggedly but soon improvising a respectable accompaniment. Warming to his berserk task, Carson does not stop until he has reached the end of the chorus.

He resumes the monologue: “Now, what was I talking about? Oh, yes. Yesterday . . .”

But no sooner has the word passed his lips than Doc’s combo, determined not to let him off the hook, strikes up the melody again. Undaunted, Carson plunges into the second chorus. Having completed it, he silences the musicians with a karate chop. There is loud applause, followed by an extended pause.

Where can he go from here? Cautiously feeling his way, he continues, “about twelve hours ago, U.S. Steel announced . . .” And successfully finishes the gag. Everyone in the studio is laughing, not so much at the joke as at the sight of Carson on the wing.


Chromecast arrives in the UK #

Chromecast is a little HDMI dongle with built in Wifi connectivity to allow you TV to be part of your network and play videos and media from other devices on your home network. Of course you’ll need to buy into Google’s ecosystem with the Chrome browser or an Android device to make the connection, but for many people there’s enough value in being able to use a large screen TV that offsets the elements of privacy you give up to Google.

Sunday, March 9th, 2014


The iceberg that haunts my SXSW Interactive conversations #

The thing I have to remember about the conversations that I have at SXSW Interactive about what people are up to and their latest projects is this. I am only hearing the successful parts of their lives, the head of the swan that is above the waterline. Underneath that graceful and successful body, the ungainly legs are paddling furiously, getting caught up in weeds, and disturbing the mud at the bottom of the lake.

So when I think about what I’m doing, I have to remember I’m not comparing like with like. The failures and knock-backs that I receive, the moments where getting the words out of my head and onto the screen are like detention with Umbridge, the struggle to get a work-life balance… everyone I am talking to have these moments as well.

I have to remember when I tell people some of the things I have been up to in the last year, they only see the top of my iceberg, so they are comparing my success with their struggles. We’re all human, we’re all putting on the best show for everyone else, and we’re all paddling furiously under the water thinking we are going nowhere fast.

There’s no need for me to flinch or think that something is wrong. There isn’t, and I should be comparing like with like.

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Thursday, March 6th, 2014


Announcing the 7th SXSW Baby Social Breakfast #

Okay, so a little bit last minute, but hey, isn’t that the Southby way? Now that I’ve made it to Austin and caught up with the rest of the  SXSW Baby! team, everyone has been asking if we’re organising our regular breakfast on the Saturday morning of Interactive at Magnolia Cafe (South Congress), I guess it’s time to make it official.

This year’s ‘SXSW Social Breakfast‘ will be on Saturday March 8th, starting at 8am at Magnolia Cafe on South Congress. Everyone is welcome, and the SXSW Baby! team will be there so make sure to say hi!

A big thank you as always to the staff at Magnolia, who’ll be opening up the patio area early for the Social Breakfast so you can all mingle, meet old friends, make new ones, and set yourself up for the rest of the day. If you’re keen to get back to the Convention Center, most folk are finished by nine and there’s a local bus that will take us all back to town in time for the first morning sessions.

You can RSVP on Facebook.


The Austin Connection #

While this is the fifteenth airline leg so far this year, the current episode of ‘Where’s Ewan This Week?’ has nothing to do with the Eurovision Song Contest (okay, almost nothing, Manga are in town and I might bump into the boys in a Turkish bar). I’m en route to Austin, Texas, for my ninth trip to South by Southwest.

This is actually a strange feeling. The last few trips (Finland, Estonia, and especially Latvia) have felt like real adventures, to new locations (or in the case of Helsinki, seeing far more of the city and the surrounding suburbs than previously). But I’ve done the drag to Austin countless times for SXSW and more, so much of the trip feels like bumping into an old friend. I’ve stayed in the same hotel for the last six years, and there’s a comfort in knowing what to expect.

And that sums up SXSW for me. it’s a mix of exploration and new discoveries, along with old friends and familiar surroundings. Every year I have arrived at SXSW with a rough idea of what’s going to happen but leave much of the planning up to serendipity. Every year that has thrown up some amazing technology, new friendships that have endured, wonderful memories, and mentally fired me up ideas and inspiration.

As usual you can keep an eye on some of the fun from the Texan state capital on SXSW Baby!, with daily posts of things to do, thoughts on the event as it progresses, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting a few podcast interviews on the site.

If you are in Austin over the next two weeks and want to meet up for a chat, show me something fun, share some music, or anything else, then get in touch. The usual social media channels will work, but email is still the best (ewanspence@gmail.com).

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Wednesday, March 5th, 2014


The SXSW Music Sampler for 2014 is now available #

Over on SXSW Baby!, the annual 80 track sampler of the SXSW Music Festival has just been posted. Covering a wide range of musical styles, sounds, genres, and performers all playing in Austin this week and next, it brings together YouTube videos, Soundcloud clips, and other media in one handy file for you to unzip and pop on your current ‘device with an MP3 player’.

DOWNLOAD the SXSW Baby! “Best of SXSW 2014″ sampler
Mega.co.nz link (314 Mb)

I wanted to create some great moments when listening to the songs, to have the music flow into each other, to have sequences that would allow you to both dip in and out of the sampler, or stick it on a five hour playlist (which should just about reach from the TSA screening at your local airport to the reception desk of your hotel – or twice through if you’re flying from Europe).

If the eighty tracks feels too much for you, then you can break it down to eight ten-track playlists.

  • Welcome to SXSW (Tracks 1-10)
  • The Second Bite Sounds Just As Nice (Tracks 11-20)
  • Chill Out And Kick Back (Tracks 21-30)
  • The Music Of America (Tracks 31-40)
  • Foot On The Amplifier (Tracks 41-50)
  • The Wonderful World of Music (Tracks 51-60)
  • Turn On The Electrics (Tracks 61-70)
  • We Hope It Never Ends (Tracks 71-80)

If you’re not sure, here’s the deal. Listen to the first ten tracks. I’m confident that not only will this give you a great hit of SXSW Music, but you’ll want to listen to the rest of the sampler.

Oh and our 2014 performers in full?

Adam Arcuragi, Ages and Agesm Air Traffic Controller, American Authors, The Apache Relay, Band of Skulls, Barcelona, Basia Bulat, The Belle Brigade, Black Books, Blacklist Royals, Boy & Bear, Bring Me The Horizon, Caroline Rose, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Cello Fury, Charli XCX, The Crookes, David Ramirez, The Devil Makes Three, East Cameron Folkcore, Elle King, Ezra Furman, Gabby Young and Other Animals, Good for Grapes, The Griswolds, Heymoonshaker, Hollis Brown, Honeyblood, Hozier, Hunter Hunted, James Bay, Jeetta, Judith Hill, July Talk, Kashmere Stage Band, Katie Herzig, Kill it Kid, Kongos, Kyle Andrews, Leif Vollebeck, Lincoln Durham, Lions in the Street, Little Daylight, London Grammar, The Lonely Wild, Los Lonely Boys, Magic Man, Mandolin Orange, Matrimony, Mia Dyson, Mighty Oaks, MisterWivers, Moon Taxi, Neulore, Nonono, Only Real, Pockets, Poolside, Quiet Company, Saintseneca, San Fermin, Shelby Earl, Skream, Sleeping At Your Door, Social Studies, Streets of Laredo, The Strypes, Talib Kweli, Timber Timbre, Tinariwen, Tom Easton, Typhoon, The Unlikley Candidates, Vnace Joy, Wardell, The Whigs, Wild Party, and The Wilderness of Manitoba.

Monday, March 3rd, 2014


Keurig decides to lock-down your coffee machine #

Because what the world needs more than instant coffee, is instant DRM-enabled coffee.