The Future Of iOS Music

Since we posted last week about the Open Music App Collaboration Manifesto – a call to iOS music developers to push ahead with inter-app collaboration features – there has been an explosion of discussion and development.

We noted developer Rob Fielding’s thoughts on best practices for iOS MIDI instruments yesterday. There also an active developer discussion going on at the Open Music App Collaboration Google Group.

Developer Shoulda Woulda Coulda has updated their app PolyChord (App Store link) with this sort of collaboration in mind.

  • Polychord will now send MIDI out to all available ports (USB, WiFi, and virtual MIDI).
  • MIDI Clock/Sync can now be sent from Polychord — this allows you to use Polychord to control other beat-based hardware & compatible apps.
  • There’s also a ‘Sound Engine’ control, allowing you to optimize polychord for use as a MIDI controller by turning off Polychord’s sound synth.

See the videos, above and below, for their take on the future of iOS music collaboration. 

Here’s another example of the type of collaboration that’s taking off. The video, via NLog Music, demos using MoDrum, NLogSynth & SoundPrism together:

YouTube Preview Image

What apps would you like to see working together?


24 thoughts on “The Future Of iOS Music

  1. The amount of iPad cr4p on this blog has become nauseating. It's like going to a guitar store and all you can find is Garage Band controllers.

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  2. I've had an iPad since day 1 and I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt. It's early days yet…. we are finally stating to see some attempts at integration with other standards, but there's still much to be done. I have over 30 apps… all interesting in their own way, but as a 'must have' contributor to my studio set up.. the only thing thus far that I use all the time is TouchOSC. I like Bleep!box's philosophy of ipad app and plugin integration. I think there's great merit in that and I'd love to see other companies like Korg do the same for the iMS-20.

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  3. I think all this iPad-stuff is really exciting. Up until now, iPad music apps have pretty much been toys. Now, with Polychord, SoundPrism, HexaChrom, NLog, GrainBender, Sunrizer and Electrify hopefully adding support for internal MIDI, I can have a great setup for playing live anywhere on a single iPad!

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  4. Indeed, it is promising. The primary issue however, especially for live performance, is understanding how many apps can be run in parallel before the iPad processor starts to collapse under the multitasking load. I wonder if there is an API (probably private, and therefore verboten from the App Store) that developers could use to show a CPU utilisation to give performers an insight into this?

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  5. It's too much if you are primarily concerned about what you can use right now. But new dedicated hardware comes out on much longer time-scales, no? So, what you are seeing reflects the rate at which stuff is actually coming out.

    If you have an idea that you can approximate with a touchscreen, accelerometer, network, a fat CPU and a GPU, then iOS is a rapid prototyping system with crazy idea turnover. In a year or two when multitouch/pressure-sensitive laptops start to take over where laptops left off, they will be running your DAW for real, and really be where all the new innovation happens.

    Maybe we will be seeing a glut of dedicated hardware being featured when 3D printing matures; reflecting the rate of innovation where it's hot at the moment.

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  6. Ios music app: 90% toys, 10% pro and useful apps:touchAble, touchosc, curtis, tumbjam…
    My life as producer has changed since touchAble arrived in my studio, best App.

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  7. I’d really like to c audio copy implemented between iOS and OS-X. To be able to freely copy and paste audio between platforms would be a great feature. I’d also like to see some form of midi copy implemented on both platforms. There has been so many times that wanted to copy a midi file from reason and wanted to paste it on Live or logic.

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    • How do you see that copy and paste between two platforms working?

      By copying to iTunes, copying to a cloud location or something else?

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  8. I’d really like to c audio copy implemented between iOS and OS-X. To be able to freely copy and paste audio between platforms would be a great feature. I’d also like to see some form of midi copy implemented on both platforms. There has been so many times that wanted to copy a midi file from reason and wanted to paste it on Live or logic. I’d also like to be able to sync midi on iOS apps and have them run in parallel.

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  9. Also some form of a Multi channel output through hardware and software would be a welcome feature.

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  10. I've read sentiment like this at the Synthtopia site many times before. Yes there is a lot of coverage here concerning iOS music apps, but in defense of that, it is because there is a proliferation of development in this area. It is less costly than putting a hardware controller, or synthesizer into production; there aren't many companies with the resources of Roland and Korg out there.

    I do see a lot of coverage here with other tools of electronic music as well, such as Mac, PC, Linux, and Android music software. Great articles about hardware synthesizers, whether they be analog modular systems by Doepfer, new products by Moog, Sequential Circuits, or Tom Oberheim. There are also other related product reviews posted here when they become available, such as hardware controllers by Novation, Livid, and Monome.

    Each new iOS app is potentially a new instrument, or instrument category, and deserves coverage. An iPad with its multi-touch interface, provides a blank canvas that begs the developer to try something new. As musicians, we get to benefit from this new inventiveness.

    It's not the device so much as the interface potential for new music. How we interact with sound generation will determine what new music we can create. This is exciting because these new instruments in the form of an app are so accessible now, once the initial cost of the platform is absorbed.

    Although I love analog gear (I learned synthesis on a Moog model 12 modular), things like the Buchla modular are not available to most composers because of the great cost to build these systems.

    I think the negative thinking about so many music apps is similar to the thinking that was going on in the 1960s and 1970s about the synthesizer replacing studio musicians. That didn't happen. iOS apps and iPads are not going to replace Moog Voyagers either, they are just new tools to use for composition. Either choose to use them, or choose not to, that is the composer's decision to make. I'm grateful that I have that option.

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  11. Great feedback –

    Sturgeon's Law states that "ninety percent of everything is crap" and this certainly applies to new music software.

    Does that mean that we shouldn't look for the other 10%?

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  12. it should also be discussed that the reason there is not as much coverage for Android apps is that the needed APIs and hardware consistency are not there.

    Apple has been far more supportive of allowing serious music software to be a real possibility on their products.

    hopefully over time other platforms will catch up.

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  13. I'd rather see someone doing real experimentation and boundary pushing on an iPad than read another announcement about some big slow company putting out yet another $4000+ keyboard nobody but Paul Schaffer needs, or yet another bedroom producer releasing a pile of samples recorded from a dying washing machine run through too much reverb and then bit crushed.

    Seriously guys, if the new iPad stuff isn't at least a a touch amusing, maybe you should consider yourself firmly stuck in the same boring rut as the rest of the music industry.

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  14. Very well put, Peter. I “don’t like” Apple (part of me died when I installed iTunes), but I still purchased an ipad. I really wanted an Android tablet, but the proliferation of music creation apps made me go with the ipad. Like it or not, it’s a viable music creation platform and interface and it definitely has a place here on Synthtopia. I really hope that something similar happens with Android app development, because I will probably get one of those as well.

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