Well I’m glad you asked me that Marc, yes there are some very cool things you can still do with an old Palm device

So, Marc Weidenbaum from Disquiet (you might remember he wrote a very nice interview with me) emailed me a question about using some old Palm PDAs. In fact the three palm devices in question were,  a Palm IIIxe, the Clie SJ20, and the Tungsten T3. Marc suggested that I reply to him in the form of a post, so here we are with “there are some very cool things you can still do with an old Palm device”.

Let’s start off with the Palm IIIxe.

The IIIxe is actually a very interesting device. Even though it’s old, it actually has a lot of potential, especially for anyone who wants to use it for MIDI. There are a few MIDI apps available for the older Palm OS. But before we go there, just a little history about the Palm OS and devices.

Palm devices like the IIIxe used Palm OS 3 or 4 and these devices used serial outputs which are generally speaking very good for old five pin MIDI. After Palm OS 4 came Palm OS 5 (not a big surprise there), and OS5 was more USB focused and not quite so good at MIDI either. However, it did have its other benefits and we’ll see those in a while.

For now let’s have a little look at the different possible MIDI apps you could find for a Palm IIIxe:

For starters there’s MixPad:

MixPad is great if you want to play MIDI files and mix them. It came from miniMusic who were real pioneers in the mobile music world. MixPad works well, but doesn’t allow you to change the MIDI file unfortunately. There were plans to do this, but sadly it didn’t come about.

Next let’s look at BeatPad. This is a Palm OS app that will be a bit more familiar. It has a drum part and a bass or mono part too. However, there’s a lot you can do to control what BeatPad does.

BeatPad is pretty cool and lots of fun to and gives you some nice control if that’s what’s important to you, but we don’t end there.

Another notable Palm OS app in the same series is NotePad, which is, as you might expect, a notation app. NotePad also has MIDI capabilities too so is worth a look.

The last of the miniMusic apps to look at is SpinPad which is a more interesting interface altogether.

SpinPad also has the added benefit of being free too. It was a miniMusic app that I’d always hoped that they’d do more with, but sadly that is now very unlikely.

So those are the miniMusic apps. But before we leave the IIIxe, and I hope that I’ve proved so far that there’s life in the old dog, there’s another group of apps that I need to mention. These are the Capers applets or demos. These are a group of apps that were meant to demonstrate some of the functionality for a replacement OS for the Palm OS which would have been a musical operating system. Sadly, it never saw the light of day,

But the Capers applets / demos are still available. One of my favourites amongst the applets is the Hedgehog. Here’s what it looks like in action:

The last video here bridges the gap between Palm and iOS with the old IIIxe driving an iPad app, Magellan. That about does it for the IIIxe. If you do take a look at the applets from Capers you’ll also find a PDF on how to use Hedgehog. Hopefully it’ll be useful.

Next we move on to the Palm Tungsten T3, and now it gets really interesting …

So, what  can you do with a Tungsten T3 these days. Well, it’ll come as no surprise to many that I’m going to mention Bhajis Loops. Bhajis is still one of the most versatile and complete mobile music apps around, even though it has been out of development for years and years now.

I went looking for a few videos of Bhajis, but couldn’t find too much actually. However, this video from artist Transient.

Bhajis was, and still is for that matter, a unique a brilliant app for the Palm OS. I’d probably go so far as saying that it’s only relatively recently that apps on iOS have gone further, and there are still some things that Bhajis does way better than iOS. Add that Bhajis is now free, as is it’s little brother Microbe (which is also worthy of a look) and you’ve got a simple and cheap way to get a mobile music machine going. So if you want a cheap mobile music device, get yourself a Pam Tungsten T3 from eBay or a Palm Tungsten TX for that matter, then grab Bhajis for free, and Microbe of course, then, when you need some instruments and sample libraries, head over here for an Aladdin’s cave of Bhajis richness!

So Marc, does that give you enough to go on? I hope it does. In my view both your T3 and your IIIxe are very useful indeed. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Clie SJ20. Well, of the three, in my opinion this is the least interesting. It was running Palm OS 4.1 which was ok, but not with serial so not much good for MIDI. It’s an ok device overall but for musical applications, not so good.

So, to recap, both Bhajis Loops and Microbe are still completely excellent mobile music making apps for Palm OS, and as you’ve already got a Pam Tungsten T3 which was arguably the best Palm for running Bhajis then you’re good to go!

I think that there are still some quite interesting things that can be done with Palm devices these days, and I hope that I’ve gone at least a little way to showing that.

Propellerheads bring Figure to Windows 10

Video description:

“Create beats in seconds and collaborate with others using Figure, the universally acclaimed music-making app for instant inspiration—now for Windows 10. Download from the Windows Store:

Some thoughts about Figure moving to Windows 10 …

Well this did come as a surprise. Not a huge one and it is a great thing for the somewhat beleaguered Windows Phone users who haven’t had the most prolific of app stores when it comes to music making apps. So this will be a welcome addition. I did get a friend to look on the UK Windows Phone store but couldn’t find anything sadly. I’ll get him to look again in the next day or so. Let’s face it, there aren’t that many people who actually have Windows Phones anyway.

What I do find interesting is that Propellerheads decided to go to Windows first and not Android. Perhaps Android is coming too. However, Android always seems to be the natural next choice for mobile music, and not Windows Phone.

However, irrespective of the next platform, this shows that there’s life in Figure yet, there’ll be lots of people very pleased with that anyway.

One final thought, who is that at around 22 seconds in? Anyone you recognise?

n-Track is getting even more interesting, and so is Songtree

n-Track has been a longtime favourite iOS DAW of mine. Also it is extremely cross platform too, sitting on iOS, Android, PC and Mac. Now the n-Track developer is integrating the Songtree community too. That’s pretty awesome. In fact, that’s awesome for both.

But the story doesn’t end there, not for n-Track. It’s going to add Pd (Pure Data) support. Initially in their desktop apps, but then, once that’s stable, they’ll be rolling it out to mobile. Now, how amazing is that going to be? Pd in your mobile DAW!

Cool thing to look forward to …

So, what about Songtree? Well apart from n-Track coming to Songtree it also seems that it’s getting an integration with LoopTree! (seems to be a lot of trees here)

Which will be very useful.

All together these things are going to start to become very powerful tools indeed, and very useful integrations.

24 things for Christmas

I’ve done this a number of times before and 2015 is going to be no different. I meant to start this yesterday, but yesterday was busy for a whole host of reasons, so I’m going to start and catch up today.

But you may be wondering what I mean by ‘things’? Good question, well, in the past I’ve done 24 apps, but this year I’m thinking of doing a few more things, such as, books, and, devices too. That’s the plan anyway!

I’ve a bit of catching up on stuff to do and then I’ll be getting on with the ’24’ stuff. Hope you like it!

Now that Link is nearly here, what will happen to WIST?

It’s something that struck me the other day that Korg are going all out to add Link to their iOS apps, but that made me realise that it was Korg that pioneered WIST, which was the original sync standard over bluetooth. I’m pleased that Korg are going down the Link route. It already feels like Link is going to be a defacto standard for sync with mobile apps, and it also feels like a very smart move for Ableton. However, what happens to WIST?

WIST always had its problems, it would only sync at the start and didn’t maintain any time sync after that, which was a real pain. It also only worked over 2 devices, which always seemed strange as bluetooth will connect 9 devices. Anyway, there’s already lots of apps who’ve removed WIST, and I’d like to think that most if not all will add Link.

So WIST will fade into the long term history of mobile music making and only a few of us will remember it and remember how tricky things were back then!

Goodbye WIST and thanks for all your help!

SoundLab Play Space Shout Out: Dentaku

I’m a big fan of Dentaku since I first of them and they started their Kickstarter campaign. We’ve had them work with us before at Heart n Soul at the 2014 Beautiful Octopus Club, so it’s great to have them back for next week’s SoundLab Play Space.

The Ototo is such a useful device and so much fun to play with. You can do pretty much anything with it. So if you’re coming along on the 25th then you’ve got a real treat in store for you with Ototo from Dentaku.

SoundLab Play Space Shout Out: Audanika

I wanted to take a little opportunity to say a thank you to some of the firms who are supporting the SoundLab Play Space next week.

Audanika have been really generous in providing us with codes for our App Space. Audanika have given us codes for SoundPrism Pro, SoundPrism Electro, and SoundPrism Electro Mini, all of which are excellent apps to help people to start to make music and so they fit really well with a project like SoundLab.

I’ve been a fan of SoundPrism Pro since the day it came out, and I still am, it’s such an expressive instrument, and you can really loose hours just playing with it. So I’m looking forward to sharing it with the audience at the SoundLab Play Space next week, and once again, a massive thank you to Audanika for supporting us.

SoundCloud’s new app isn’t available for iOS as yet, but why?

So there’s been lots of news about SoundCloud’s new creator app called Pulse (wasn’t there a LinkedIn app by the same name?), but it’s come to Android first, which, in my view, is a little odd. Does it strike you as odd?

Given that their first mobile app was for iOS it seems strange to bring this to Android first off. I don’t get it. Surely they’ve got lots more people creating on iOS than creating using Android? Did I miss something here?

To be honest I can’t say that I’ve really understood what they were up to for some time, so I guess that this shouldn’t be a big surprise really.

I’ll be interested to see what it’s like when it does come to iOS and what it does.

So, about that Ableton Link stuff then …

Ableton’s Loop event brought out some really interesting things didn’t it? Live 9.5, Push 2, and of course Link. Of course Link was the big news from Loop. It was the first, and a very strategic foray for Ableton into the world of mobile. They didn’t release and app, they didn’t release a controller, they gave us a way to connect everything, without even using Live itself.

I thought it was an interesting collection of apps that are going to be amongst the first to use Link. In fact possibly the biggest surprise was seeing Korg’s apps there. It made me wonder what ever happened to their WIST technology. It was quite ground breaking when it was first released but then never followed up or developed. Also it could only connect 2 devices at the same time over bluetooth.

That of course raises another question. Will Ableton keep Link updated? They’re not going to make any money from it, so from a purely financial perspective it will be the bottom of the priority list in development terms. That bothers me a little. Of course they could open source it at some point, that would be interesting.

But for now I think it is a way to engage mobile into their ecosystem (although I’m not sure how much I like that word) without having to be in the mobile world. That’s pretty smart I think, but where it will take them eventually, that’s going to be much more interesting in the long run, and, how will it change how mobile and desktop work together?

Of course the one thing that isn’t at the party, at least so far anyway, is Android. It isn’t a big surprise though of course, Android tends not to get involved in these kinds of things, but even so, it’s a shame. I feel like I have to mention it anyway.

One last thought on the subject though, whilst there was lots of hype and excitement about Ableton’s Link technology, how many times have you actually been in a position where you decide that you want to jam along with lots of other people? It’s a nice idea, but for how many people is this actually going to be useful? I wonder that, even though I think it’s a great step forward.

3D Touch is going to be a big deal I think

So the new iPhone 6s and 6s+ have 3D Touch. It looked like an interesting feature when Apple brought it to the MacBook Pro, and now on mobile it looks like being even more important. But why?

I’ve been watching what non-music apps have been doing with 3D touch, and I have to say it’s pretty impressive. It seems to have created a whole new control dimension to the device.

But for music apps it’s going to do a lot more than that. If you look at some of the posts earlier today you can see that already there’s a bunch of new functionality that’s going to rely on 3D touch. I think that we’re going to see a great deal more of this, and we’re going to see a lot of truly interesting implementations of 3D touch coming in the next few weeks. In my opinion it will be the control dimension that gestural should have been, but in many ways wasn’t.

  1. So if you’re a developer, what are you thinking about in terms of 3D touch and how it’ll work for your app?
  2. If you’re a mobile musician, what are you thinking about in terms of how you’d like to see 3D touch in your favourite apps?

I don’t think that this is going to go away. It’ll end up being something that we just take for granted. That’s what I think anyway.