iPad Mini, iPad 4 ‘Best Bet’ For Mobile Music Apps


Mobile app firm Agawi has released the results of its TouchMarks II research, which compares the touchscreen latency of flagship tablets running Android, Windows RT, and iOS.

Touchscreen latency measures the length of time it takes for devices to react to touches. Faster is better, especially for musicians that do realtime music-making on mobile devices.

Agawi benchmarked the touchscreen latencies of leading tablets, including iPads, Microsoft’s Surface and several Android tablets, including Amazon’s newest Kindle Fire HD. They also tested the Nvidia Shield – an Android-based gaming device.

They found that the iPad Mini and iPad 4 are the most responsive devices, followed closely by the Nvidia Shield (Android) and Surface RT. The remaining Android devices they tested were relatively laggards, with up to twice the latency of the iOS devices.

Their conclusion:

If you primarily use your tablet for reading, watching videos or browsing the web, then shop around and pick the best tablet – iOS, Android, Windows 8 – that suits your needs. With their lower price points and high PPI screens you may find an Android tablet works perfectly for you.

If, however, you’re into latency-sensitive applications like games or interactive music apps, then your best bet might be an iPad.

We would like to see how the Surface Pro 2 ranks in Agawi’s latency test. The Surface RT has not been embraced by musicians, but Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 has better chances, since it runs legacy Windows apps.

Check out the results of the testing and leave a comment with your thoughts!

23 thoughts on “iPad Mini, iPad 4 ‘Best Bet’ For Mobile Music Apps

  1. Have no fear, the Apple haters will find a way to disagree with and disparage this data lest it cast a positive light on any Apple products.

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    • Which kneejerk reaction do you think they’ll go with? The Agawi’s testing is flawed angle; they should have tested ________ angle; or just ‘you should just change the sitename to fanboytopia?

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          • I aim to please. Be aware that I don’t have that opinion myself. I’m not sure if the downvotes are from hurt anti-Apple fanboys or people that think I’m anti-Apple.

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            • Define “real hardware” becuase i know of a lot of “real hardware” that has touch screens and I bet Ipads will blow those out of the water. Its a platform for softsynths (and more). thats all it is. It just has the best hardware (better than any manufacturer like yamaha or korg will EVER make), by your logic all computers are “itoys”.

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  2. Not an Apple hater (love my iPad), but touch screen latency is just one measure, and one that might not be very important for many users.

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    • Very true – after the OS registers your touch, there’s processing time to carry out your action and then additional latency in the conversion from digital audio to analog.

      Every comparison I’ve seen, though, shows iOS having lower audio latency than other mobile platforms. So you add things up and it starts to make sense why Android devices aren’t ready for realtime music-making.

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  3. to do mobile music you have to have apple OR android OR Windows ??

    no one is even thought about nintendo (KORG DS10+ )??

    people are making still music on other devices

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    • I am making music with 3DS, along side of iPhone and soon also with iPad…as well as “real hard ware”. Everything goes as long as the music is real.

      Nintendo is very strict about latency, and it takes latency as their top priority when they are planning their consoles. I would love to see more synths in 3DS and Wii U. Hopefully Detuneltd hears this.

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        • I really like DS-10 – I want a version for the 3DS!

          But I also really like Korg’s iPad apps. 😀

          The apps made me really pro-Korg – now I just wish I could get my hands on some of those Volca modules! And maybe an MS-20 mini. 😉

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          • I think its some what probable even, as the Detuneltd made a quick 3DS version of their Korg M1 and are releasing it via eShop.

            I would love to see a 3DS version of DS-10 in similar fashion how they made the M01, but 3DS-20 would make me screaming happy.

            And something like them, but even bigger on Wii U would be awesome as well. I have been fantasizing about shiny white midi keyboard (perhaps a Detuneltd – Korg – Nintendo joint venture) coupled with synthesizer app for Wii U and 3DS, that would have strong synth in its heart, but also living room friendly functions, like karaoke and piano lessons, but also song writing and sharing with friends.

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  4. What does the latency with which a device updates the SCREEN in response to a touch event (because that’s what they meaured) have to do with its usefulness for music apps? Besides, is nobody concerned how awful ALL these reaction times are in the context of realtime musical performance? I mean, at least around 60ms, what the heck!? For sound latency that’s like standing away about 20 meters from the sound source.

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    • I agree that for music apps the touch-to-sound latency is what they should be measuring!!
      As you note, you can have a device with great touch-to-screen-flash performance that still has awful touch-to-sound latency.

      Also in the case of screen flashes with OpenGL you might have to wait for at least 50% of the frame delay irrespective, so if the GUI is running at 60 FPS then you won’t see anything better than 1/60/2 = 8.3 ms minimum latency.

      I would expect that a decent laptop with good audio drivers and associated sound production software should have a touch-to-audio latency of less than 5 ms (1 ms for MIDI and < 4 ms for audio.)

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    • Yeah. I was thinking, that are they trying to make those Androids look a bit less unfitting for music making, by using far fetched numbers instead of relevant and placing them this close to iPad.

      I am sure, that relevant audio latency figures would look almost “unfair” towards Androids.

      Nintendo Wii U’s touch response was16ms despite doing the maths in separate, non mobile unit and transmitting the pictures wirelessly. 3DS is at least at that ballpark, at least the DS was totally immediate.

      I would love to see a new comparison measuring the audio latency, and perhaps taking some really different devices into account as well.

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  5. I have no doubt the apple numbers are correct, but I question why a study using “flagship” tablets uses a Microsoft Surface RT and not the Surface Pro. The RT is the low-end device..

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  6. To anyone using the word “toys”….Kraftwerk often used all sorts of toys on their studio recordings and in live shows. You got something to say to Kraftwerk?

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