The Evolution Of iOS Music Making

Mobile music making guru Jakob Haq shared this video history of the evolution of iOS music making, from 2007 to 2021.

The video highlights how far the platform has come in 14 years and showcases applications and instruments that made exceptional use of the platform. It also showcases some of the apps that were innovative in their time, but have been sidelined or abandoned.

Check out the video and share your thoughts on the most important milestones in iOS music making in the comments!

Video Summary:

“From Apple introducing the first iPhone, to AUM and AUv3 Multi-bus routing, heres the Evolution of the iOS Music platform from 2007 to 2021. It’s been 14 years in the making and a lot of stuff has happened since it all began. The introduction of the AppStore, The first iPhone Synthesizer, Audiobus, Inter App Audio, the first iPad Pro, Audio Unit Extensions, I’ve collected all vital miles stones in a time-line spanning over a decade and I’m finally able to share it with the iOS Music community.”

21 thoughts on “The Evolution Of iOS Music Making

  1. Great video by Jakob. As much I hoped the iPad being the ultimate music production device on the go it never really got there because Apple simply didn’t allow it to happen. Thousands spent on a dream that never came to reality unfortunately.

  2. There is always problem when you are looking for the ULTIMATE! Especially when most of the searchers for the ultimate , have got GAS[gear acquisition syndrome], myself included.I have had an iPAD since the early days, so that’s quite a few years when you think about it. Taking the long term view, the iPad has provided for many people the new gear fix by way of Apps at a fraction of new hardware cost.Importantly the iPAD and Apple provided the platform development environment for a huge number of Audio developers which we the users obviously benefitted from. I have to say Champ ,it has been many peoples fortune to have had the iPAD and apps to realise their music making dreams , even with the Software niggles on the way.

    1. I agree, LeaFSmith! I think a big part of why the iOS apps are so popular is that they are a fraction of the cost. It’s all what you make of it. Making music is, to many, about spontaneity and portability. The iPad checks those boxes for sure. It’s not my “main” music making tool, but I enjoy that ability to make music with it anytime, anywhere.

    2. Even though there are some amazing apps on iPad. (think I spent about 1k on apps alone) There still isn’t a very flexible DAW like we have on real computers. That’s not the fault of developers but all Apple’s fault for not providing all the tools needed. It all translates to greed. Apple is simply making more profit doing the way they’re doing.

      Just think where we would’ve gotten if Apple just added touchscreen support to the Mac more than a decade ago. We would have most of these apps and than some. Therefor I feel the whole iOS platform for music making is a big frustration. Sure I had some fun with it but was it worth spending thousands on?

      Personally all I really wanted was Logic Pro on the iPad. People claim the UI isn’t good enough for touch but I think that’s bull. Using Logic with a pencil and touch could work fantastic and would offer a great portable music production device for a lot of Logic users out there. If needed they could add a keyboard, mouse, extra monitor etc.

      1. Yes, there are blurred lines between the more portable tablets and the slightly less portable laptops. And Mac OS and iOS have been moving toward each other. Of course, everything Apple does is motivated by profit. I suppose if they had supported the core elements to make DAW development easier/better– it would have cost them some R & D, but most DAW users are probably working at home and not, as the ads would have you believe, on subways, coffee shops, or quiet parks. Some, yes. Not most.

        I don’t ever want a touch screen on my MBP. The last thing I want is to block my display with my hand. I do think that Apple could provide some powerful ways to link the iPad with Mac OS to make some hybrid controls possible. For example, an AU plugin could throw a touchscreen control panel over to a connected iPad (if that is a preferred control setting).

        The Logic UI isn’t even good on Mac OS. What you are suggesting by users adding keyboards, mouse, extra monitor is that people use Logic on a laptop. You don’t gain ANYTHING by having Logic on an iOS device except GUI headaches, less power, less flexibility, less fun (if Logic is fun at all– open question).

        Of course, YMMV.

        1. What I gain is money in my pocket as the iPad is cheaper than a Macbook. I could buy 2 iPads with Apple Pencils for the price of one Macbook Air. The iPad is also more compact and weights less, easier to clean, can handle a spill, fits in every bag and can be used while walking around. The iPad has more ways controlling the software because it also has the touchscreen. I couldd think of many more reasons why the iPad can be superiour. (if Apple didn’t screw with us).

          And yes Logic Pro by far is the best DAW on the planet (I’m not saying it’s perfect), but that’s just my opinion of course. 🙂

          1. Those are all good points. However, the MacBook has many MORE ways of controlling the software because of trackpad/mouse/any-other-USB-input-device– where the iPad will limit the ways you can interact. But it is true, for people who like the touch-screen experience, it’s hard to beat. The iOS software selection itself is pretty wonderful. For me, both are equally crash prone– which is not very.

            Logic is pretty wonderful, especially when it comes to the included plugins & instruments. Not the most user-friendly, though. Not as good for creative composition as Digital Performer. But better in other ways.

            1. I’m using the Brydge Pro+ (keyboard with trackpad) myself on the iPad Pro so what limitations do you mean exactly?

              The iPad has a USB-C connection to which I can connect a hub or other things as well. This may come with limitations but that’s Apple way of saying you also need to buy a Macbook. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is Apple’s way of squeezing more profit out of all of us.

              The fact remains that if I’m able to disconnect things when I don’t need them it offers me more flexibility not less.

              1. You’ve clearly had fewer problems trying to connect devices to your iPad than I have.

                Apple has continually redused connectivity on their laptops. Some of those choices are understandable, but the evolution of connector shapes can be expensive and annoying. It looks like upcoming MBP models have expanded (rather than constricted) the options slightly. With iOS devices Apple always provides one connector, and even removed the headphone jack as a huge middle-finger to the music-making community.

                In the laptop vs iOS device, there are strong pros & cons with each. Depending on what things you consider for your needs, one will rise above the other. My original point, that “game changing” almost always refers to things you could do for many years on a laptop still stands.

                For me, what makes an iOS device great is all the weird cool cheap-assed software– what makes that software suck is that I’m stuck using it on an iOS device.

        2. I can have Cubasis running on my iPhone Max, wireless controlled over Bluetooth, by controllers that support this mode, or batteri powered controllers with a small midi ower Bluetooth DIN adapter. That’s actually pretty powerfull in a portable way! Tons of fun and idea capturing – right there anywhere!

  3. I loved this video. I have been a fan of Jakob for a while and have enjoyed his videos promoting music apps for iOS. I am an Android guy who came to realize the power of music making in the iOS environment. I now have an iPad (mostly just) for music apps. This video really showed me an evolution that I was not aware of. It filled in all of the gaps and showed me how iOS got to where it is now. Great job as always, Jakob!

  4. That was a great overview of the timeline of iOS music software development. However, the use of “Game change,r” while understandable, seems to need a bit of disclaiming.

    “Game changer” is certainly more attention grabbing than the-more-accurate: “This thing that I have been doing easily on my laptop for many years, I can now almost do with a little more hoop-jumping, on my slightly more portable device.”

    The verdict remains that the iPad is SLIGHTLY more portable, and VASTLY less capable than a laptop. However, the combination of factors– namely: touchscreen, form-factor, amazing apps (and app-prices), and more accessibility for non-professionals– causes people to weigh these achievements in their own context.

    As an avowed laptop fan, I was glad to see Apple release a MBP with expanded connectivity (and a headphone jack).

    “Why are you still on my lawn?!”

  5. This is the main reason I have an iPad, my only Apple device. It would be pretty silly to ignore all that great and not expensive software synths. Wavestation for a few bucks? Yes! 🙂

  6. I was super excited about the idea of affordable and portable synthesis and production with iOS, until I tried it, and realized that once I closed my eyes to get into the groove, all of my controls suddenly disappeared. By removing haptic feedback, a touch screen often forces one to rely on visual information instead of just audio, and for me, that additional step in the creative feedback loop became a serious impediment — and cobbling to together a Frankenstein audio/midi controller surface to compensate almost always created mixed results.

    That said, the ability to explore so many affordable software tools, and in a portable format, has been amazing. Some of those tools truly exploit and benefit from the touchscreen medium. For example, interacting with circular clips with Tasty Pixel’s Loopy app has changed the way I think about audio, and having a powerful yet pocket-sized live looper is incredible (looking forward to the upcoming Pro version!). Further, apps like Xynthesizr and FugueMachine would probably be expensive to reproduce as purely hardware, and so I feel especially lucky and grateful to explore their possibilities for little more than the price of a used (and even quite old!) iOS device. Thank you to iOS and music app developers — and thank you to folks on YouTube like Jakob Haq for helping us learn these impressive tools.

  7. Fifteen years ago I was using an Akai MPC 1000 sampling off warez plugins from a shoddy HP laptop. Today I muck about in Cubasis 3 with great sounding stuff from Korg, Waldorff, Moog, Fabfilter, Eventide, Toneboosters and so on. For roughly the same price.

    Love the portability as I travel too much. Sure, I can do real work (mixing, mastering, arranging) way faster with a desktop DAW and mouse/keyboard, but for hobbyists like myself the ios ecosystem is a nice compromise between price and functionality. It seldom gets stale. Last fun workflow is screen recording an app called Radio Garden, importing it into Koala Sampler and wreck the living shit out of the sound. Fifteen years ago I would have traded all my worldly posessions for an iphone with Koala sampler alone.

  8. My giant fingers break too many lines at once to hit many functions accurately, even on most of an iPad and messing with a stylus gives my brain a rash. Aw, look at the widdle First World problem.

    I can’t justify the expense of what would only be a rotating outboard synth module for me, but it can be tempting. The sound quality is excellent now. It seems well worth the cable octopus required.

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