JACK Comes To iOS, Offers Free Way To Route Audio + MIDI Between Apps

ios-jackDeveloper Christian Schoenebeck, d/b/a Crudebyte, has introduced JACK for iOS – a new app that lets you interconnect the audio channels and MIDI ports of your audio & music apps

JACK does not force a predefined schema in which way apps shall be connected with each other. You can freely connect them in any way you want, like drawing on a paper. Besides audio & MIDI interconnection, JACK provides other mechanisms to let your audio apps work together like never before, including record/playback synchronization between DAWs and sequencer apps, arbitrary data sharing among apps and more.

Current Features:

  • Audio connections between apps and external devices¹.
  • MIDI connections between apps and external devices¹.
  • Record/Playback synchronization between apps.
  • Multi Core CPU support for high performance (parallelized internal audio graph).
  • Low Latency Performance (configurable, i.e. 2ms buffer sizes).
  • Arbitrary, custom data sharing among apps (allows easy extensions of the system).
  • Arbitrary amount of audio & MIDI ports per app, changeable at runtime.
  • Intuitive user interface that allows you to easily manage all audio and MIDI connections, environment settings, monitor current overall CPU usage and more …

JACK is an open standard. According to Schoenebeck, developers can add JACK support to an app in less than an hour. SDK, example apps with full source code and documentation are available.

Note: At this point, we do not see any list of compatible apps on the developers site – so consider this an interesting development, but also a work in progress.

JACK is a free download in the App Store.

35 thoughts on “JACK Comes To iOS, Offers Free Way To Route Audio + MIDI Between Apps

  1. There we go! This is great news. If Apple isn’t going to make it so apps/hardware can link up, I’m glad to see a few more options. I do hope that developers make this step as well.

      1. Once again, always the same mistake. Each developper’s pride ignore the rest of the world, pretending to be the one, best of the best. They really should start to think evolution, convergence and simplification. if something is missing in Audiobus, why not add it to the initial product ? Il Jack really needs to be THE solution, then why is it not directly compatible with Audiobus to replace it ? All these guys are good techs, but are killing the business with all this incompatible tools.

        1. It really doesn’t work like that in the real world John. Basically you are saying that whoever invents something first has the right to be the king of that area forever after. This is both wrong and anti-progress. How do we find out which ideas are better if we must always now just add to what is there? I don’t know if JACK is better than Audiobus or if Tabletop is better than both of them but I know that out there in the real world we will now find out as they go head to head. And one will emerge from the bunch as the favourite/easiest to use, etc.

          1. Jeffrey, I did not say one or the other is the best, nor the first should be the one taking over all the others. What I meant is that once a tool is becomming a reference, it would be useful to include its specifications as a legacy compatibility in new tools. In our specific domain, you should remember the MIDI history… Still vivid today. With softwares, we are now in a situation where we are always facing an incompatibility issue, because of these multiple independant views… So news ideas, yes indeed, but please, think compatibility also.

    1. To be fair. Audiobus always seemed like a scaled down Jack for iOS to me (and probably anyone else who’s used Jack). Not that I don’t like and appreciate Audiobus and what it has done for iOS music making. Before it came along things were fragmented at best. Audiobus gave developers a standard to get behind. I only wish that it had been more like jack to begin with.

  2. Sounds like an anemic alternative to Audiobus(at this point), but I do love the idea and hope it gets some traction. Jack is awesome on OS X with ardour.

  3. And to be honest I would rather see this developer work with audiobus, focusing on where Audiobus needs development: namely, a MIDI app that works within and alongside Audiobus.

  4. I have been asking for this since iOS came out! Made so much more sense just picking up what this guy had already done on OSX (of which iOS is a subset) then building a new format with Audiobus. I was actually confused when the Audiobus announcement was first made because it seemed like a lot of “re-inventing the wheel” was going to happen… Any way… Glad this is here!

  5. I have the ominous feeling of creating a split market….as historical evidence I would cite WIST and MIDI…

    MIDI is the earlier and far more powerful contender, but it hasnt stopped many apps being released with WIST support but not MIDI (possibly because full MIDI spec is de facto “harder”).

    I hope this doesnt happen now as Audiobus has really beun to build something of a standard in good music apps.

    I agree with the above post that it would have seemed a better tactical move for JACK to impliment alongside Audiobus in a way that can allow both to grow together.

    just my uninformed 2ps worth of course.

    1. As long as audiobus only allows me to connect apps within my iPad and offers no solution for working with my actual production setup, it remains a toy for messing around in my free time.

  6. Competition is always good. Period. Now if there’s synergy in their separate apps, that would be even better!

    1. Competition is usually good, and I believe it is good in this case.

      To say competition is always good is very myopic. I don’t think you would want two companies competing over who provided you water and sewer service or who provided you roads to drive on. Duplicating services and facilities can be a waste of money and space in some instances.

      I foresee people complaining in the future over having to switch between Jack and Audiobus to complete an IOS project. Both seem to have some advantages over the other. I hope both developers are successful with their projects, but I also hope it doesn’t complicate things more than they already are.

    2. Competition is NOT always good, it is this over simplification that has allowed most of the western world to be led by America in a race to the bottom.

      Audiobus and Jack are not just trying to be “products” they are trying to be “standards”…a set of rules to allow OTHER competing products to communicate in an interchangable way.

      by your argument the “best” thing that could happen would be fifty ot more competng standards…but who would that benifit? Neither the developer of these apps in their products value , the developers of other music apps who now have a maze of ideas to navigate or the consumer who now lives in an again fragmented marketplace.

      Colaboration and builidng on exsisting dominant models IS, I believe, the way forward when if comes to moving these find of projects forward, it always has been the case through most of history, we have just been alive in a blip when lawyers and lobbyists got involved and tried to convince everyone that ring fencing ideas into seperate competing boxes was “better”, leaving out the bit that it is “better…for them”.

      1. I think a (possibly) simple solution to any audiobus/jack comparability issues would be if each one added support for the other.

      2. Lol, the western world’s “bottom”, as you see it, is the envy of the third world, what with our leisure time, ipads and all. Try and keep some perspective! Ever heard “Hussel” by M.I.A.?

        “You think it’s tough now, come to Africa
        You think it’s tough now, come to Africa
        Out there, we are grinding like pepper
        You can catch me on the motorway,
        Selling sugar, water and pepper”

        I appreciate your idealism, but there are worse things in this world than too much choice or consumers living in a “fragmented marketplace” 😉 Deciding anything by consensus in a world with 6 billion people seems a bit out of the question, don’t you think?

        1. MIDI is a great example of what benefits (and profits) that consensual collaboration without confrontation can bring to all players in an industry without resorting to the “race to the bottom”.

          Sequential Circuits (the Prophet Synth people) and Roland got the ball rolling by lowering the competitive barriers between each other, and the other big players followed suit. 30 years on and MIDI is an institution.

          “Systems Exclusive” MIDI messages were added as a great way to allow all players to add individuality and differentiation to their own offerings while still remaining MIDI-compliant. Win-Win… hint, hint…

  7. Excellent app indeed. It is like Audiobus on steroids with MidiBridge merged together, but since Audiobus is so well established already, it remains to be seen how many developers will bother to implement Jack in their apps…

  8. I’m happy to see this, because though I was really excited about AudioBus and bought it immediately, I still haven’t been able to get into a workflow groove with it. Believe me I’ve tried! And I’m pretty good at actually following through and completing songs with other iOS apps (though always with help from Ableton). I like the idea of AudioBus, admire the developers and I’m sorta jealous of how inspired others seem to be by it. But I’m so glad this alternative has appeared, maybe my simple brain will actually take to it, who knows 🙂

    To me it just underscores how short-sighted it is to criticize other people’s choice of DAW, OS, platform, etc. Choice is good, vive le choice, etc…

  9. So now we have three (count ’em – don’t forget TableTop) mutually incompatibe Audio routing SDK’s. Jack however is the one with the promise of maybe getting NetJack to extend the audio pipe out over the network.

    Gee, thanks, Apple, for geting CoreMIDI so right and CoreAudio so wrong when it comes to inter-app stream routing. MIDI routing can be done by totally independent Apps (see MidiBridge) but Audio routing require every App deveoper to decide which of these SDK’s to code to. Is there anybody out there with any idea how to do an App that could make these three talk to each other? Without additional coding work in the other Apps on the busses?

    1. Apple didn’t get Core audio wrong just because it doesn’t support inter app streaming. As far as I know no OS has this capability without some sort of 3rd party software. I think that this is something that just has not been all that relevant until now for most people. And for those that it has been important there’s been systems like jack or sound flower.

  10. Is there some good reason not to make JACK compatible with AudioBus, preferably in the JACK and AudioBus apps themselves, but alternately in a program like MIDI Bridge?

    1. Seems like an opportunity for an enterprising dev to build an app with Michael Tyson’s audio engine and bridge the two SDK’s; all the tools are there for the taking. Someone should suggest this to MidiBridge.

  11. If this allows me to finally midi clock sync IOS apps with my DAW then I’m in.

    My fingers are crossed that it will also allow a DAW midi clock sync to WIST. That would be awesome.

  12. What I want to know is the approach each of them take to push the audio around. Technical merits and performance will decide the leader and standard . ….. Of course, Apple can still release an updated core audio spec to make all these hacks unnecessary

  13. Oh come on… please!

    This is brilliant!

    iOS is a wee baby in the audio/midi world and there is so much yet to come. This is a fabulous step forward! Choice is good! Competition is good! That there isn’t one solution to rule them all is definitely good! Freedom people… Freedom!

    obviously this definition of freedom kinda ignores the walled garden of appledom! But…

    Look around at other mobile platform audio/midi stuff and enjoy what we already have; which quite frankly, for the investment, iPad + ~£200 on all the top apps, is freakin amazing!!!!

  14. Oh come on… please!

    This is brilliant!

    iOS is a wee baby in the audio/midi world and there is so much yet to come. This is a fabulous step forward! Choice is good! Competition is good! That there isn’t one solution to rule them all is definitely good! Freedom people… Freedom!

    obviously this definition of freedom kinda ignores the walled garden of appledom! But…

    Look around at other mobile platform audio/midi stuff and enjoy what we already have which quite frankly, for the investment, iPad +about £200 on all the top apps, is freakin amazing!!!!

  15. I think competition in this case would be bad. the developers of Jack, audiobus, Apple, and all music app creators should shit down and come up with a standard. No one should be competing to get to the top, because we can all get there together through a team effort.

  16. I decided to look at the SDK this afternoon, and it was pretty painless to integrate. It really was an hour or two of coding. IMO, Audiobus is the better solution, but I don’t see a compelling reason not to support Jack. I’ll also add MIDI through Jack, but that also seems like a second choice option.


  17. It really does’nt matter how many standards there are in the end there can only be one widely adopted winner and who that is will depend on one thing the amount of users. If we make a pie chart of ios audio users what do you think the percentages would be eg how many would be hardened studio engineers compareded to the casual home user with a few apps on their pad I think the casual user and new users would have a big chunk of the pie and they will want simplicity at the top of the list of pros and so it ends.

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