Mobile music creation on Apple's iOS devices

Archive for September, 2014

AudioBus, iOS8, and you

AudioBus works great on iPad-mini Retina under iOS8. And that is first hand fact. Second hand, from totally reliable sources, indicates the same; all is well with AudioBus on iPad3 and iPhone 5s under iOS8.

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So please pass this word along as needed. I have seen app reviews and forum postings that are way out of proportion on blaming the AudioBus app for a variety of misfortunes. Under the new iOS8, in order for AudioBus compatible apps to work, the apps must get the iOS8 AudioBus update (The SDK that the other app developers need is free and has been available for a short while). As long as these apps do not incorporate the audible update under iOS8 they will each issue a warning message when they are launched.

It is not the end of the world as we know it (not yet at least). I have seen a steady stream of apps trickling in with the update and this will continue until we reach the abandoned apps or those apps whose developers have other things to handle and will get to iOS8 eventually.

If your favorite app is not showing in AB (AudioBus) when you go to load them, that means they just haven’t been updated yet, that’s all. Just now (8:50pm CDT) I checked the App Store for updates and sure enough there’s another one: Chordion, a most excellent app, has been updated. Earlier today I saw Alchemy (my all time favorite app), had an update…I grabbed it, and fired it up in AB and it worked fine.

There are more for the list but I am going by what I have loaded. I haven’t installed my entire repertoire of apps onto the new iPad-mini (it’s only 32GB so I am being cautious with my space) but that makes it hard to keep pace with all of the updates.

Some apps don’t work!

Tis true that some apps (very few) under iOS8 do not function. One such app that was broken was DM1 the drum machine. But it got updated and works fine…even has some extra enhancements with this update…pretty cool. Animoog is another very popular app that just won’t work with the new iOS. But the deve are working on that app as are many more. Right now several apps are waiting review at Apple, so it’s just a matter of time.

Patience is your friend right now. I am not updating my iPad4 until all or nearly all of my go to apps have been updated for iOS8. And had this mini not arrived, then I would be on the sidelines watching.

As a long time I.T. professional, I know a few things about software upgrades (and the havoc they can cause), so I will give out some advice from that point of view; Do not upgrade if you don’t want to. Don’t if you have important projects currently being worked. Do not upgrade if your favorite app (or apps) is not upgraded yet! Do not upgrade if you have any doubts! Either way…back up your shit! Do it now!

iOS8 has cool new features and we’ll see more of them available as app devs add new features to their apps. Apps are now able to share more with other apps and that’s a feature set that may take some interesting turns as people begin to understand and explore just what that may mean.

There are plenty of reasons to go ahead and update your iDevice, and plenty of reasons to wait a bit. But I am giving my thumbs up overall for iOS8, and AudioBus!

Be seeing you
— Bourne 22Sep14

Alchemy Synth showing AudioBus control panel:

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We interrupt this version

iOS8 is here.

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In a bit of great timing, an iPad-mini Retina (the fast one), arrived on Wednesday, and later that night iOS8 arrived. Never an early adopter of technology, and not about to risk an early upgrade on my production machine (iPad4), this presented me with a great opportunity; take the role of beta tester for the greater iOS music making community.

I’m not alone, by no means. It was a bit like election night as we checked at various forums and blogs and saw the early returns trickle in. Oh no, the news was bleak; three hour download times; 6GB storage needed; the App Store is broken; AudioBus doesn’t work under iOS8!!!

I was like…hold on a minute, this is not right. I need to see what’s going on. At that time I was still loading apps and restoring content and running tests to establish some kind of benchmarks for the brand new device. We dove in within an hour of the dire warning posts.

By midnight the mini was loaded with iOS8 and rebooting, in total it took about an hour. Before I pressed Upgrade the app usage settings indicated that I’d need 4GB of free space in order to download iOS8…ymmv. It did not use up all of that 4GB space, regretfully I did not record my free space prior to the install. But it seems like I am down only a few hundred MB.

Early results are in

Having surpassed the first hurdle with iOS8 up and running it was time to see what was what. Like I’d done earlier with the brand new mini, a new iOS install requires some setup. Time consuming for me is the settings…this is where I go turn everything off.

iOS music app testing revealed a lot of problems, some were expected and others, not so much.

AudioBus test results; (many apps have not been upgraded to iOS8 and so are known not to work with AudioBus, none of those are listed as available apps and are not listed here).

AB input: Update —> Cubasis and Nave updated for ISO8 and and work fine in Audiobus

Problems :
Rock drum machine — audio artifacts, stuttering, unusable sounds.
Squeech — shows as available in AB input, but it gets the AB error when launched. It functions, standalone in iOS8, just not in AB.

Good results:

Different Drummer
Sunrizer
Nano studio
Galileo
NTBYFS
Cotracks
Thumbjam
Galileo
Singaling
Voxkit
LoopyHD
Arpeggionome

Output:
AudioShare
GarageBand
LoopyHD

EFX slot: (all worked just fine)

All Holderness Media apps (Echo Pad, Crsytalline, etc) and
All the Kymatica (Aufx series) apps
AD480 Free
Turnado.

Only one issue; EchoPad has no icon in the AB lists, when loaded into a slot it shows as a white icon, but I can see the familiar three dots of its logo and it did work just fine.

Other troubles: (from the not ready for AB app list)

DM-1 the great drum machine app belched fire and junk but not drum sounds when used stand alone.
DM-1 was updated and works fine as stand alone and in Audiobus.
(9/22/14).

Impaktor will not launch and Amimoog launches but does nothing

Inter App Audio (IAA) test results.

Apps that were already IAA compatible worked just fine: Alchemy, iSem, Thor, Auria, GB, AudioShare, LoopyHD, Thumbjam, and more including all of the AB input apps listed above.

I still haven’t finished populating this new mini, so I may wait until more apps get iOS 8 updates, but any further app troubles, or resolutions will get posted here on the blog.

Other iOS8 goodies

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At the App Store there are several improvements including, app bundles–where one can purchase an entire collection of apps in one go, often at a discounted price. Developer videos can be imbedded in the app description, and almost best of all, and almost the cure for app searching is the new Explore button. At the bottom of the App Store screen.

I write almost, because it is not perfect, and needs improvement but it is a step in the right direction. I found no listing for synths, but there is a section for xylophone — hmmm! Also some of the entries in various categories were questionable (I saw a French horn app listed under flutes).

Yet, this is a much needed improvement, and like other changes it will evolve and improve over time (I hope).

Apple has added a MIDI over Bluetooth function and I am not sure but maybe only GarageBand has it built in? And while not specific to iOS8, both the mini and ipad4 contain Bluetooth LE, I used the cool app Apollo MIDI over Bluetooth from the fantastic developer with the best name; Secret Base Design. I launched the app on each device, selected the proper in and out, and then on each device, I launched a MIDI capable app and then proceeded to play one iPad’s synth (Thor) from the other iPad’s controller app (Chordion). And needless to say, it worked perfectly. Newer Mac computers have Bluetooth LE built in so that’s an option for Mac owners of which I am not. Still this opens up even more cool music making possibilities.

Conclusions

This was and still is an interesting exercise; one offshoot is that all of this got me somewhat up to speed on iOS8. By reporting on these results I hope to help anyone that is attempting to decide about the upgrade; or anyone that’s just curious about the whole process.

Many iOS music apps are big resource eaters so when several are put together to ride on Audiobus it isn’t difficult to hit some limits. Audiobus does a fantastic job and has been enhanced from the beginning, but in order to do all of that, the app devs make code changes, probably a lot of changes. For the enhancements to work, AB compatible apps must incorporate the AB changes. While many apps were ready to go on launch day, others are still rolling out. There’s a lot for most devs to deal with, AB updates, various MIDI stuff, audio copy/paste, general changes to the iOS and any other changes to the actual apps. It can take time, especially to test all of the changes and work out bugs before a release can be pushed out.

My hat’s off to all of our beloved music making app devs for delivering the fine apps and for the continued support. All of us are moving forward with better tools and easier ways to share our music data, now it’s up to us users to do something good with these tools.

Let’s make some new music!

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On a side note: Zen Garden, a special iOS8 app, did work very well and is amazingly beautiful. I recommend checking it out. But it is over 400MB so it’ll have to leave the mini soon, I’ll need that space for Cubasis, which just got updated and is available as of this morning.

Be seeing you,
— Toz. 19Sep14

Music and video on iOS

A measure of success?

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I recently experienced a ┬ábit of unexpected, well not sure how to tag it; popularity, or success? Success in the fact that, regardless of quality, I created something that thousands of people checked out. Of course hindsight being what it is, I think that I have could done things different — better.

But given the timing of events the speculation is unfounded. I could not have done things different and still achieved the same results. I am referring to the YouTube video demo of the iSymphonic Orchestra app that I posted a few weeks ago. The last time that I checked, it had nearly three-thousand views. Originally I felt that at least twenty and maybe up to two hundred people would check it out. Over three thousand views; that kind of number is way beyond anything that I’ve ever been associated with.

Surprising, staggering, and amazing, are some words that come to mind that express my feelings about this. I told someone that it was my fifteen minutes of fame albeit in a little micro segment of web activity dealing with iOS music making apps. So it’s more like my 15 microseconds of fame.

Had this been planned then there would have been a lot more content to immediately follow. Sure I have content, much of it yet to be put in useable form but nothing to really follow-up for all of the viewers. Again, this was nothing planned nor anticipated. But all of the views were welcomed and the main thing for me, the gain as it were, is the added exposure for iOS music making.

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To blog, or not to blog?

Multiple goals are usually behind any one decision, such as the existence of this blog. My blog postings are sporadic and wide ranging which reflects, somewhat, my life. But this is here is to promote iOS music making, to encourage support of the arts, to document my journey into this new music making world, and to (hopefully) provide some encouragement and knowledge of how to make music on iOS devices.

By default this blog and anything I ever post on-line that is music related could be consider as self-promotion. If I had something to sell it would be obvious, but the base of it all is to promote the idea of mobile music making and to encourage others to dive in and make music. But why the encouragement? Why mobile music making and why dive into a professionally dominated venue at all? Because of my muse!

Is muses a plural? I guess so, the autocorrect left that word alone. I have two; a human muse and a computer muse that work on me at various times. My human muse knows who she is; one of my first ever iOS made songs was all about her, and it’s one of the few songs I’ve written that contains words (probably 90% of my output is instrumental, even though I’ve written notebooks full of poems and lyrics). So I have a lady friend who provides a lot of inspiration, and then there is this thing called iOS that is the other muse.

My first discovery of a music making app on an iPod touch thrilled and intrigued me to such an extent that it would be difficult to measure. Though not hard to measure are the results of this enthusiasm. My creative output (subjectivity aside), has soared since delving into IOS music making. And recently I have begun to combine the sounds with images resulting in music videos. This is leading to bigger and what I hope are better things.

As a child there were two things I wanted to be when I grew up (beyond being a famous rock n roll star like every kid I knew): first was an oceanographer and the other was a film maker. And my hero, Jacques Cousteau, was both! Neither of those ideas went anywhere and I ended up with a long lasting career in information technology (what we once called data processing). That story is not so different from many other people I know. But there are others that were able to pursue their dreams from an early age, and some of those have made a living from that dream and that is to be admired for we know that ain’t an easy thing to do.

Just do it

Yet, as they saying goes, it is never too late. There are many cases of artists finding their muse later in life and making a go of it. I am lucky enough to live in a democracy (what remains of it), so I am free to pursue my dreams. And with all of my recent creative output and the new technologies available, it seems like it is time to focus in on what those dreams are, or rather what they may become. An ocean going scientist is not the direction I am heading, however my idea of becoming a filmmaker could be realized to some extent.

Creatively, I consider myself a photographer, a music producer, a writer, and a vessel that contains many comedic characters (more on that later). As such I have many abilities that are useful in movie making (visual storytelling could be a better term). So the question then is, what to do? I will pursue this question but still based on my iOS music making since it is such a dominant force and can’t be avoided.

One thought on this is to make cohesive, story telling music videos. By cohesive I mean that the images would reflect the music and vice versa. The MTV era allowed for desperate images and sounds to be accepted as one, but I do not favor those much. The best of the music videos have images that correlated with the story of the music (I’m not a fan, but see Michael Jackson’s Thriller for one of the best examples). Some of the video images I have put with my music are related and some are not. A story? Not so much.

My first few music videos are really in the experimental vein, just learning what various apps can do and how it all works on iPad. But moving forward I hope to create more ambitious projects. Available time will dictate all of this as it does to everything else, and as usual my ambitions probably outweigh my ability or my do-ability! However, I’ll never get anything done if I don’t try!

My main goal is still to use my iPads as much as possible though I have hit quite a few bumps in the road as I have tried to create and post my work without the use of PCs. Many iOS apps for web use fall a bit short and do not offer enough functionality such as this WordPress app that I am using now to write this, and the YouTube app, which doesn’t give one much control or update ability for their YouTube channel. Once I realized this, I resorted to the PC just for some basic updates and edits. The iPad can do what I need technology-wise, it’s just that some apps fall short and need to offer more control.

My current pursuit is checking out various iOS video making and editing apps that are available, and there are a ton of them. I tend to be careful in choosing apps since there are so many and for the pocket money pricing it could be easy to purchase too many that won’t be used. I like to make smart choices but first I must limit the choices. This involves web based research into app developers, and reading independent reviews including those on the App Store (though those are last in priority due to the nature of the beast).

What comes next? A video page on this blog for one, (probably just links to all my vids) and some kind of animated music video is a real possibility. As usual there will be a learning curve with what I intend to do, but until I run out of learning capacity, this fits in so well with everything else that I have done iOS related that it does seem like a logic next step.

Be seeing you
— Bourne 03Sep14