New Mac app wants to record everything you do, so you can ‘rewind’ it later

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Rewind lets you search your history for what you've seen, said, or heard.
Enlarge / Rewind lets you search your Mac’s usage history for what you’ve seen, said, or heard.

Rewind AI

Yesterday, a company called Rewind AI announced a software product of the same name for Macs with Apple Silicon that would keep a highly compressed, searchable record of everything you do locally on your Mac and let you “rewind” time to view it later. . If you forget something you “saw, said or heard”, Rewind wants to help you find it easily.

Rewind AI claims that its product stores all registration data locally on your machine and does not require cloud integration. Among its promises, Rewind would allow you to rewind Zoom meetings and extract information from them in a searchable form.

In a video demo on Rewind.AI’s site, the app opens when a user presses Command+Shift+Space. The search bar suggests typing “everything you’ve seen, said or heard”. It also displays a timeline at the bottom of the screen that represents previous actions in apps.

A promotional video from Rewind AI.

After searching for “tps reports”, the video is a grid view of every time Rewind has encountered the phrase “tps reports” as audio or text in any app, including Zoom chats , text messages, emails, Slack conversations and Word documents. It describes filtering results by application and the ability to copy and paste from these past instances if needed.

Founded by Dan Siroker and Brett Bejcek, Rewind AI is made up of a small, remote team located in different cities across the United States. Parts of the company previously created Scribe, a precursor to Rewind that gained press attention in 2021. In an introductory blog post, Rewind AI co-founder Dan Siroker writes, “And if we could use technology to augment our memory in the same way that a hearing aid can augment our hearing?”

How it works?

Rewind AI provides few details on the app’s back-end technology, but describes “mind-blowing compression” that could compress recording data up to 3,750 times “without major loss of quality”, giving an example of 10.5GB of data reduced to just 2.8MB. Rewind says that even on a small hard drive, “you can store years of recordings” – a heady claim, of course.

Image of a Mac running Rewind.
Enlarge / Image of a Mac running Rewind.

Rewind AI

The Rewind site also describes using OCR to capture text content and automated speech recognition to automatically transcribe anything you’ve said or heard, including in meetings, so “you never have to to worry about losing that content”.

(If Rewind converts everything it sees and hears to plain text, that could explain the massive compression rate. The demo showed no live video or audio recording playback, for example, just screenshots of static screens with highlighted text. We’ve asked Rewind AI to clarify this and will update the article if we receive a response.)

Rewind AI also says Apple Silicon Macs with M1 and M2 chips are essential for the product to work “virtually imperceptibly”, using “virtually every part of the system-on-chip”.

Potential privacy issues

While laying out the vision for Rewind AI in the aforementioned blog post, Siroker writes, “Our vision is to give humans perfect memory. But the commentators of Twitter and YouTube have already started reporting scenarios where “perfect memory” could backfire.

For example, Rewind may expose its users to potential abuse from authoritarian partners, bosses, law enforcementor repressive governments; Legal issue record sensitive information; and consent issues around recording other people in meetings.

Rewind addresses some of these concerns on its site, saying, “We store all recordings locally on your Mac. Only you have access to them.” Their demo site also says you’ll be able to pause or delete recordings at any time, and you can automatically exclude certain apps from your saved history, including private browsing modes in browsers.

A screenshot of Rewind's website privacy information.
Enlarge / A screenshot of Rewind’s website privacy information.

Rewind AI

When it comes to obtaining permission to record a meeting with other participants, Rewind provides its own help page titled “All You Need to Know About Consent” which includes tips such as “Before to record someone, you should always ask for their consent”. The page recommends telling people the meeting will be recorded — perhaps ahead of time — and that users follow all local laws regarding the recording of conversations.

Privacy and ethical concerns aside, Andreessen Horowitz takes the technology seriously enough to lead a $10 million funding round at a $75 million valuation. The venture capital firm wrote about its reasons for investing in Rewind, positing the product as a cure for information overload.

Currently, the Rewind product is not available to the public, but anyone interested can apply for “early access” on the Rewind website. We contacted Rewind and asked for a chance to try out the software.

#Mac #app #record #rewind

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