I have a confession to make: I’m a nerd. Yes, and I’m proud of it, because I think being a nerd means two things: I’m constantly curious about details, and I don’t hesitate to try out new stuff. To satisfy my curiosity, I’ve always dived into Apple’s ecosystem and the latest hardware related to it. Fortunately, my passion for Apple correlates with my love for discovering new music. I’ve been playing guitar since I was eight years old, and I love electronic music from the bottom of my heart as well. I’ve always found myself interested in both the traditional (perhaps organic) hardware side of music, and the more modern, digital software production process.
When the iPhone came out, many blogging colleagues and people around me predicted that its new software system, combined with the mobility of the device itself, would change the way people produce music and think about audible art as a whole. Three years later Apple unveiled the iPad. iPhone music software was indeed present at the time, but people soon recognized that the device’s screen was too small to create usable professional software for it — playing on-screen keyboards was nearly impossible and attempts to build high-end software synths like ReBirth or drum machines ended up in cluttered, untidy screens.
This problem seemed to get solved with the large screen of the iPad. Professional software retailers like KORG immediately started coding software versions of their most successful hardware. For instance, the iElectribe was one of the first apps available after the device’s launch. Over the years, I constantly tried out music apps for the iPad, tested hardware accessories (made possible with the release of iPhone OS 3), and never stopped investigating advantages, problems, and future possibilities of all those apps. Now, five years after the launch of iOS and the iPhone, I think it’s time to look back at how Apple’s mobile devices, with the focus clearly on the iPad, have changed the world of music and how they’ll continue to affect the future.
To do this, I recently went through my app archive and analyzed which kind of music apps remained installed on my devices, and which ones I liked when I tested them, but didn’t gain a place in my personal workflow. I discovered that I had to clearly divide music apps in several areas when discussing them. I distinguished between eight types of available music apps: promotion, discovery, entry level playing apps, handy/learning tools, sketching apps, recording, and professional software.
Throughout this post, I will cover each of those areas separately and point out their current state by discussing the most elaborate app(s) in their respective areas. I will point out the advantages and problems iOS brings to them, and predict — as far ahead as possible — what the future might hold.