Apollo App Sends MIDI Over Bluetooth For iOS and OSX

Secret Base Design has a new app, Apollo, which uses Bluetooth LE to send MIDI back and forth between iOS devices, or between an iOS device and a Mac.

Secret Base Design’s Patrick Madden explains his inspiration for the app:

“One of the things that’s annoyed me with the iPhone and iPad hardware has been limited inter-device MIDI.  The hardware adapters can be really clunky.  WiFi MIDI works in theory — but if there’s a little bit of WiFi traffic, the latency and jitter goes through the roof.

“[But] starting with the iPad3 and iPhone4S, Apple has put in support for Bluetooth LE — this has very low latency, and [we think] it’s a perfect fit for MIDI.”

Here’s how the app works: Apollo_MIDI_BluetoothThe app is fairly simple — it connects a pair of iOS devices. MIDI sent to the app on one device will be forwarded to the app on the other device via Bluetooth wireless connections, eliminating hardware adapters, and providing lower latency than is possible with WiFi. From there, it can send the signal to any synthesizers and sequencers the user wants to use.

In addition, with the Mac app, it’s possible to use an iOS device as a wireless controller, or to trigger iOS synths with Logic.

Other uses. In addition to MIDI connections between iOS devices, Apollo can also be used to connect to Mac desktop and laptop computers. Recent iMacs and MacBooks support Bluetooth LE; for older Macs, a USB Bluetooth adapter may be required. The OSX version of Apollo will be available in the Mac app store shortly.

Pricing and availability. The iOS version of Apollo MIDI-over-Bluetooth is available now via the iTunes App Store; the Mac version should be out in a couple of days, according to Madden.  The iOS app is $3 for the product introduction (at least through the weekend). The Mac version is going to be free. Additional information is at the Secret Base Design website.

10 thoughts on “Apollo App Sends MIDI Over Bluetooth For iOS and OSX

  1. What an easy $3 to spend! Clearly the hardware connection has it’s place, and getting from iOS and/or Mac to a MIDI device still requires that hardware interface. But linking the Mac & iOS via Bluetooth LE is a great call. Bringing various touch controls from the iOS device to the Mac, and sending MIDI tracks from a Mac DAW to an iOS synth is a great way to bring the studio together.

    All that said, my Mac rig is pretty self-contained. I have all the sounds and software I need on that rig. But I could see that I might occasionally find a sound I like on the iPad and want to use it on a track. This is a pretty painless way to accomplish that.

  2. This is the way forward and appears to be the growing trend these days (look at IK Multimedia iRig BlueBoard). Midi over bluetooth has been around for a few years now ( check out this DIY hack: http://hackaday.com/2011/07/09/turn-any-bluetooth-device-into-a-midi-controller/ ) but I sure hope more manufacturers start pushing for it as the norm.

    For fucks’sake, we have satellites beaming ridiculous amounts of data from one end of the planet to the next. So why the hell are we still using midi controllers with wires?

    1. Well. to be fair… one of the reasons we initially didn’t implement satellite links in the ISP I work for was latency. was still in the millisecond area but much more milliseconds than the one you could get via “nomal” routing. We did implement it later but just because they’ve started using aggressive caching.
      What I’m trying to say it’s that “we are still using midi controllers with wires” because while wireless will be the future it takes time…
      oh my… listening to the “wireless” was also the past
      🙂

  3. It’s nice to see another option, since I can’t get the MIDI over a Wifi Ad-Hoc network to work (I get the error: “IP:PORT didn’t respond to the connection request. Check the address and port, and any firewall or router settings.”). It works on my internet wireless connection, but the latency is too high.

    How does one check, if the Mac has Bluetooth LE?
    What should it say under “System Profiler (apple > about this mac > more info > system report > hardware > bluetooth )”?

  4. @Aleksian — the OSX version of the app is free. I’m still waiting on Apple to give the seal of approval, but in the mean time, I’ve got the build available on the support web site (http://www.secretbasedesign.com/apps/apollo). You could grab that and run it — tap the “search for remote” button, and it’ll either say that it’s searching, or it’ll pop up an error message saying you need Bluetooth LE.

    The app requires Mountain Lion or Mavericks. If the Mac doesn’t have Bluetooth LE, you can use a USB adapter (I have found none that “officially” support OSX, but the IOGear GBU521 has worked like a champ, and is about $12).

  5. @Aleksian — the OSX version of the app is free. I’m still waiting on Apple to give the seal of approval, but in the mean time, I’ve got the build available on the support web site (I had the link in the post, but it looks like it’s hung up on the spam filters, so I’ve taken it out — but you should be able to find it from the iOS iTunes page…). You could grab that and run it — tap the “search for remote” button, and it’ll either say that it’s searching, or it’ll pop up an error message saying you need Bluetooth LE.

    The app requires Mountain Lion or Mavericks. If the Mac doesn’t have Bluetooth LE, you can use a USB adapter (I have found none that “officially” support OSX, but the IOGear GBU521 has worked like a champ, and is about $12).

  6. Very cool app!
    I was able to play with my Novation Launchkey 64 connected through the camera connection kit to an iPhone 4s that controlled wirelessly the Sunrizer Synth on an iPad 3 without noticeable delay. I could even remote control filters via apollo midi connection by assigning them to the Launchkey controls.

  7. Hi,

    Well, I had high hopes for this app. But, so far, I’m struggling with it. :-/

    I tried controlling Animoog on an iPad 3 with Animoog on an iPad mini. It *works* but, although it’s fine with simple keypresses, it’s laggy for anything beyond simples keypresses. It’s not really possible to glissando across the interface on the controlling iPad and have Apollo keep up on the receiving one.

    Perhaps this can be improved on, but, for the moment, it’s not any kind of replacement for direct control. I would very much like to control Animoog from another expressive keyboard source that is not in a fixed position (i.e. not reaching over to where the iPad 3 is in my rig), so, I wanted this to work well, but it’s not there. Maybe “yet” is operative here.

    I hope the designers can attempt the same and address the issue – if it’s possible given the limitations of any kind of latency that BT will of necessity introduce – albeit smaller than wireless. Oh, and, my devices were within inches of each other too with a good connection.

    It’s a great idea. Would love to see it improve and develop if it’s possible.

    Kind regards

    D.

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