Mobile music creation on Apple's iOS devices

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

Comments on: "We interrupt this version" (4)

  1. Many thanks Toz this is very helpful. Have you tried iSymphonic Orchestra on iOS8 ?

    • Hey Trueyorky, not yet I have not. App usage for iSO shows as 700MB on my ipad4 and I am trying to be cautious, as this new mini is only 32GB. However the new mini is also still in experiment mode so I think I will install iSO and give it a try tonight or tomorrow morning. Report back here to let ya know.

      Cheers.

    • Thanks for asking by the way; I am glad that I did all of this: On iOS8:
      iSymphonic Orchestra worked fine by itself. Then I set it up as inter app audio input to AudioShare and used Choridon as a MIDI controller and it all worked as one would hope. Yeah! Things are looking good!

      Cheers.

  2. Good news, cheers.

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