Getting Started With iOS Audio Units

The latest episode of the iOS Update takes a look at using Audio Units in iOS. 

In the video, Mitch Gallagher demonstrates the Audio Units plug-in functionality introduced in iOS 9.

Apps that support the plug-in functionality can be opened within other apps for sound creation and processing, without the need for a bridge such as InterApp Audio or AudioBus. As an example, Gallagher shows how Arturia iSem works within Multitrack Studio.

If you’ve tried out Audio Units in iOS 9, leave a comment and let us know how it works for you!

18 thoughts on “Getting Started With iOS Audio Units

  1. wow , now i can buy all the plugins i own … again
    = profit …?

    why not just use Music IO and REAL Audio Units on a much faster computer with a larger screen ?
    the ipad already has great synths and FX

    i would LOVE to run ios apps directly on my MAC

    1. I have the iConnect Audio4, which allows you to use an iPad exactly as if it were an outboard synth. Pretty slick. Not exactly like havin it run “on” the Mac, but then again you have the audio processing being done on the iPad, reducing your Mac’s CPU load.

  2. How about a list of all apps that support this functionality? As far as I know, it’s only the ones shown and an fx app. Searching the App Store is no help either due to the wonky search algorithm.

  3. This is BS! If apple would stop being greedy jerk-offs, then the new ipads would just run an optimized OSX. They are more than powerful enough and with a few usb ports, the Ipad would be in the hands of every pro mac user. Instead, like mentioned above, we have to buy all our plugins again and still what we work on with the ipad will not easily integrate with our Laptop/desktop and vice versa. This kinda crap is what makes honest software isers turn into pirates.

    1. “This is BS! If apple would stop being greedy jerk-offs,”

      Umm – AU support is built into the OS, so it’s not something you pay for.

      The idea of just running an optimized version of OS X is exactly what Apple has done. iOS is a version of OS X that’s optimized for mobile devices, where the OS goals are very different than with desktop computers.

      If what you really want is a desktop OS with touchscreen support tacked on, it’s already out there with Surface. But the hybrid approach means that developers have absolutely no incentive to update their apps for mobile devices and touchscreens, which is why touchscreen interaction on surface tends to be so kludgy.

      The hybrid/compromise approach is ideal if you want a desktop that you can also do some basic tablet functions with, like surfing the web, reading books and watching videos.

      They hybrid/compromise approach is lousy, though, if you want an ecosystem of great multi-touch apps.

      Apple has not discussed any intention of merging OS X and iOS, so don’t hold your breath on that. What you can expect, though, is that iOS devices are rapidly going to become a powerful alternative to desktop devices. The iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro already offer more powerful CPUs, at a lower cost, than the comparable Surface Pro 4.

      Bottom line – if you want a powerful tablet, iPad is the only way to go. If you want a desktop computer that can do some tablet functions, Surface Pro 4 is the way to go, as long as you can accept the poor performance. And if desktop performance in a mobile device is what you want, you should probably stick with a Macbook Pro or a comparable Windows computer, vs a tablet or hybrid.

      1. You forgot the Modbook, and I do not see any Modbook owners complaining about the hybrid approach, nor Hackintosh users who installed OSX on the Surface.

        And you are wrong about costs. The ipad pro costs more than a comparable Surface Pro 4. The Surfaces that costs more are the ones equipped with I7 processors (more powerful than the A9X) and have 8g or 16g of RAM (compared to the 4g on the ipad pro).

        What pros really want are tablets that can run complete software like Logic or Cubase with any plugins, and Photoshop, Illustrator or Autocad for graphic design. Fortunately they can with the Surface and the Modbook.

        Also you forget that AUs made for OSX do not work in IOS, hence why you have to pay again for AUs you already own.

        1. JMT

          Not sure where you’re shopping, but in the real world, $799 for the iPad Pro < $899 for the Surface Pro 4, and the entry-level iPad Pro has a 30% faster CPU!

          This is per a Windows site's comparison:

          Even the iPad Air 2 offers better performance than the Surface Pro 4 m3 – and you can get it for half the price.

          You mention the Modbook. If that's what you want, you've confirmed what I said earlier – hybrid solutions are available already.

          But, by the fact that you felt you had to remind people that the ModBook even exists, you've demonstrated that it is an extremely niche product. It's only viable for the professional user that can justify spending $1000 to use a touchscreen to replace their mouse.

          The Surface Pro 4 doesn't come with as steep a premium, but it's proven to be a niche product, too, because it's expensive and slow for a Windows laptop. And what's the point, if you're a power user, in getting an expensive slow laptop?

          What Pros really want is not expensive hybrid computers that let them use their finger to try and click on tiny user interface elements, that were never designed for touchscreen interaction. If they wanted that, Modbooks and the Surface Pros would be more than niche products.

          What Microsoft – and the tablet naysayers – have failed to demonstrate is why anyone would want to take a desktop OS, designed with tiny clickable objects that are only appropriate for using with a mouse – and use that with their finger. These kludgy solutions have been around for more than a decade and they have never taken off, beyond being niche solutions.

          You seem to think that multi-touch computing is a laptop UI with a touchscreen glopped onto it, which has proven to be a terrible solution that just about nobody wants.

          And you seem to think that you're entitled to free software forever, even when the developer has to rewrite it for a new operating system, recompile it for a new processor, give it significant new features and try to make money selling it for $5-10.

          Do you think that developers have a magic wand that they can wave over their code to give it a new user interface, adapt it to multi-touch and add support for a variety of mobile music-making technologies?

          You and sea may want to use this as an excuse for piracy, but that comes across as pretty jerky. The rest of us want our apps to be around next year, so we don't advocate pirating software and ripping off developers.

          Most iOS synths sell for $5-15, and audio effects for $3-5. If you think you're getting ripped off at those prices, you're not the type of user that developers are working for.

          1. > Not sure where you’re shopping, but in the real world, $799 for the iPad Pro

            In Canada (source Best Buy’s website) : Ipad Pro $1050 for the Wifi only 32g model, Surface Pro 3 : $960 for the i5 with 128g ($759 for the i3 with 64g, ). Who knows, maybe Canada is not the real world after all.

            > you’ve demonstrated that it is an extremely niche product. It’s only viable for the professional user that can justify spending $1000 to use a touchscreen to replace their mouse.

            But of course it is niche, pros are niche and have always been as opposed to general consumers. What kind of people do you think buy niche products like Wacom and Mac Pro desktops (or even the Ipad Pro)? Who do you think are those people who have been wanting Apple to make an OSX tablet and/or to be able to use IOS apps inside OSX? The best of both world is possible, especially as IOS apps are created and tested inside OSX in the first place.

            > And you seem to think that you’re entitled to free software forever
            > You and sea may want to use this as an excuse for piracy

            No, this is not what I said at all.

            What I meant is that AU are supposed to be a plugin standard and work everywhere where AU is supported. This is not the case with IOS AU. Apple has created a new AU format for IOS which is different than OSX AU. Even here many commenters are confusing AU support on IOS as a mean to run OSX AU.

        2. Modbooks are a gamble with the possibility of breaking with every OS iteration. Acceptable for amateurs but not when you are making money from your work.

          As a “pro” what I want is hardware and software that works well together to get a particular job done. Surface UX is poor in my opinion and the software, unless specially designed for touch, is a terrible experience. iPad Pro has potential but that will be dependant on software, of which there are a huge options in their ecosystem. I don’t think many pros expect to be able to mix on a tablet but acquisition is another story. My Apogee Quartet works amazingly well with the iPad.

          Knowing Apple, AU development probably uses the same dev tools and probably requires a simple recompile depending on the OS platform. Optimizations are in the hands of the developers as is the decision on how much to charge and for what. Not sure what Apple has to do with this.

          1. > Modbooks are a gamble with the possibility of breaking with every OS iteration.

            This is false. Modbooks are real Macbooks that have been modified with a touch screen. At their core they are real Apple hardware.

            From Modbook’s FAQ : “The Modbook Pro transforms an original Apple® MacBook® Pro notebook-style computer into a tablet-style computer. The compatible models are the 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz or 2.9GHz MacBook Pro (standard display).”

            > As a “pro” what I want is hardware and software that works well together to get a particular job done.

            Me too, and it would be possible to use IOS apps inside of OSX. IOS apps are developed inside OSX already and if Apple wanted to they could let their users run them like regular apps (which may happen someday regardless of what Tim Cook said about never producing a touch screen OSX device. Apple have always had a tendency to claim they will never to something and then do it later).

            1. Ahh. I have people I know who refer to their Mackintosh laptops as modbooks. I wasn’t aware of these Modbooks you mentioned. Regardless, it’s the same issue as with the Surface. You would be running an OS that is not designed or poorly designed to run touch apps. I’m sure there will be a time when the Apple has a universal OS but it doesn’t make sense yet.

    1. That is a very good question. So Apple releases new AU extension for iOS and yet their own apps don’t support it. What the….?!
      BTW; and where are all those music “Pro” apps for iPad Pro?!
      If Apple can’t deliver, what do you expect…
      What a shame… 🙁

  4. The only reason why I now have an IPad Air 2 is to use cubasis. I came from using cubasis on a PC and have also been eperimenting using android music sequencers. TBH Android have been very very lazing when it comes to music and it’s been left to Samsung to try and solve latency issues. All of this, combined with a thirst to start at new album, has led me to iOS on a iPad with Cubasis – as it is the only grown up DAW I can find that works with Touch on ANY platform. Are there draw backs? Yes, AU support isn’t really there yet, but mainly in the sense that there aren’t many apps out there that actually support it. Having said that AU is only really important because of the shortfalls with Interapp and Audio Bus – mainly being that your presets aren’t saved through the DAW. In the short term improve Inter app support would have made a bigger difference to musicians lives as it means you have a real diversity of choice with improved format. Instead, I think that with AU they’ve gone for a longer term strategy which is about establishing a new format. We’re in a transitionary period – it’s a pain but that’s that. What WOULD have made my life a lot easier though is if Apple just used the same bloody cables as everyone else – they and they alone are responsible for this divisive approach.

  5. I have been really deceived with ios music, complete waste of time and money, serious limitations too, then yiu have that planned obsolrscence strategy used to make things no longer compatible etc using excuse of processing power. While other platforms offers both 32 bit and 64 bit compatibility of same application e.g vst synths. With apple you have to buy new and latest devices. Will never ever reinvest in ios for music productions. How many good synth apps offers AU support, are they updating the old synth apps for AU? The answer is no. Not untill they can easily allow multiple midi instances f same synth app and without planned obsolescence blackmail threats to buy newer apple devices, I am not buying new ipad

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