What The Apple iPad Means For Music


Steve Jobs today introduced the Apple iPad, a handheld multitouch computer, and it’s likely to be the biggest music technology introduction of the year.

The Apple iPad, conceptually, is a large iPod touch.

However, what Apple has really done is create a new device that builds on what it has learned with the iPhone and iPod touch. The operating system, and the applications that Apple includes, are optimized for both the size of the hardware and the types of things that you would want to do with a device this size.

Here’s Apple official Apple iPad introduction video:

A lot of people are going to take a look at the iPod and react to what it’s not, and react to what Apple left out. People are already complaining about the lack of their favorite port or that it’s based on the iPhone OS instead of Mac OS X. No Flash support! No MIDI out! DRM!!!!

The iPad backlash is entirely predictable and is a standard part of the technology hype cycle. The iPad backlash is a distraction from figuring out what the real role of devices like the iPad is going to be.

When I look at the Apple iPad, I remember how crappy every cell phone was before Apple came out with the iPhone. To see the potential of the iPad, look beyond existing devices, and think about what the iPad can do.

I see a coherent, viable vision for tablet computing that’s 5 years ahead of any other company’s.

The iPad will be immediately useful as a musical tool, because it runs countless existing iPhone apps.

As developers adapt their apps to the larger real estate, though, the Apple iPad will come into its own as a new platform for music.

Look at what has been happening with the JazzMutant Lemur as a malleable music controller and look at what has already been happening with iPhone music apps, and it’s clear that music developers are going to have fun with the Apple iPad.

For a taste of what may be coming, check out Jim Heinz’s iSample:

Take that as a starting point – day 1 for the Apple iPad as a music platform. Give iSample some real estate and it’s going to be exponentially more interesting.

The iPad won’t replace the power of a dedicated music computer – but it is creating a new platform that will support new types of mobile music making and new ways of controlling and playing music.

And, while I think the iPad is going to prove to be a big deal – I would like to know what Apple has planned for multitasking, file management, access to the iTunes library, third-party device support and more.

Check out the specs for the Apple iPad below and let us know what you think.

Is this thing going to change the way you make music this year?

Apple iPad Features:

  • 9.7″ Full capacitive multitouch screen
  • 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • Support for 1024 x 768 with Dock Connector to VGA adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component A/V Cable, 576i and 480i with Apple Composite Cable
  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
  • .5″ thick
  • 1 GHz Apple A4 processor
  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive
  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
  • Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • WiFi 802.11n
  • Built-in speaker, microphone, 30-pin connectors
  • Accelerometer
  • Compass
  • Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • Runs all iPhone apps
  • 3G wireless options, with a $30/month unlimited plan


  • Wifi models
    • 16GB – $499
    • 32GB – $599
    • 64GB -$699
  • 3G models
    • 16GB – $629
    • 32GB – $729
    • 64GB -$829

79 thoughts on “What The Apple iPad Means For Music

  1. Oh, do you mean the iPad's complete lack of inputs/outputs that would make the device an actual autonomous computer instead of something that still relies on another system to charge and transfer files?

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  2. I'd actually like to see what applications will be developed to use the iPad as an instrument or controller — not just as a mixing or looping platform. All that touch-screen real estate has to be attractive to some of us — and combined with the accelerometer, that's easily an order of flexibility beyond the keyboard and trackpad for velocity and other dynamics.

    Or how about a simple guitar app that lets you strum with one hand while fingering your chords on an opposite corner? Or the next-gen Theramin?

    Sure, this is not a replacement for a 'real computer' — but it *is* this generation's WebTV; and it would be silly to dismiss it completely just because it's not what I (we) wanted or expected Apple to create.

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  3. Love It, and I will definitely buy It.
    The question is, will I'll be able to (patient enough) wait another 30 days for 3G…?!

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  4. How long will it take for other manufacturers to release something similar running windows and with USB/firewire ports? Instant hit! All our DAWs and VSTs on a great portable touch screen!

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  5. As a guitarist, I'm not excited about it's recording capabilities. I have plenty of portable recorders to do that. I am excited about the possibility of it displaying my tab or standard notation on this unit and not having to print the documents. The iphone has these apps but the screen is too small. The potential of putting the iPad on my music stand, selecting a song from my library and practicing it and making marks and changes with it using the touch screen. This would save me a lot of time and space.
    Only problem is that I'm not a developer so I have to hope that there will be someone who will produce this functionality. If that happens, the iPad be an incredible tool for musicians.

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  6. People pay hundreds of dollars for hardware units that are specific to performing a few tasks. Chaos pads? DAW Controllers? Fader Strips? Samplers? The iPad can and will do all of this.
    And more importantly: Ideas that we haven't come up with!
    This device will be as powerful as the programmers' imagination.
    BTW – Apple doesn't need to clutter the device with inputs for all users… The 30 pin connector on the bottom allows for many attachments. Most of them will be third party.
    I for one am excited for this device for many reasons. Music-wise, I expect a really cool sampler, with a fun multi-touch matrix and a nice gesture controlled controller for my DAW.

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  7. "When I look at the Apple iPad, I remember how crappy every cell phone was before Apple came out with the iPhone. "

    the author clearly has no idea what he is talking about, nor does he have any idea of what is beyond the borders of USA. There were PLENTY badass phones in Asia waaaaaay before the iPhone came out.

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  8. Quite agree, why are people not getting it?? The idea of a Multitouch Reason (for instance) is just the coolest thing you could imagine as a portable groovebox/sequencer/drum machine – and it's 1GHz, which is more than enough for such an application; as long the app had a full set of import/export options, which it would because even the iPhone apps do. It's as though none of the people on this forum have ever seen Star Trek! We are there people, get with the program!

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  9. Missing the point. Any attempt by any other 'manufacturer to release something similar' and have it run windows would, I believe, result in something completely rubbish. This is a portable device from the year 2010, it doesn't need freakin' USB! And as for running 'all our favourite DAWs and VSTs… they were not designed for this technology and would be a nightmare to twiddle on a screen. The iPad will bring about new ways of interacting with software, simplifying processes, making them more accessible and intuitive, and creating things that weren't possible before. Apple only facilitate this through the app store, it is developers that will make this happen.

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  10. And those badass phones made zero impact on the world and popular culture because their manufacturers did not understand their potential and would never in a million years have dreamt of the app store. It is the app store that makes the iPhone the iPhone. Not the hardware. Comparing things like megapixels or phone functions is completely missing the point.

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  11. trust me i have an android. this thing rocks. why in the world would i need to carry a backpack just to carry this i pad.. i have a touch screen computer cell phone in the palm of my hands. trust me. the ipad is no competition.

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  12. It depends on your needs. If you were looking to buy a Kindle this may blow that out of the water. If you're are a musician and would like to have digitized music charts like the MusicPad Pro the iPad at $499 sound a lot better than paying $899.

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  13. besides everything else, it isn't all that much more portable than a laptop. an iTouch can be thrown in a pocket for a jam, or that is, a dedicated portable music player can be thrown in a pocket. everyone wants more screen real estate, but the numbers on this thing are kind of weak

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  14. Its a fun little thing!
    Will I ever use it just to make music? Like I do in the apps I run on my PC or my MAC?

    Once it can store 5 terabytes of samples and 80 gigs of AU/VSTs, I might look into it as a DAW.

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