Today Apple launched the latest versions of two of its apps aimed at music creators: Logic Pro X 10.3 for macOS and GarageBand 2.2 for iOS. Each update brings a number of improvements that offer additional tools to users and increased integration between the two apps.
Logic Pro X 10.3 adds Touch Bar support to the app for the first time, implementing it in a number of ways. The Touch Bar can serve as an instrument, allowing users to tap out a drum beat or play a piano keyboard. Power users will appreciate the ability to keep some of their favorite controls on the Touch Bar, as it can be configured with different keyboard shortcuts to suit each person’s needs. There is also the option to navigate audio waveforms using the Touch Bar.
For those who may not have a Touch Bar-equipped device, the latest update to Logic still has several things to offer. In addition to minor design changes, new features include Track Alternatives, which allows creating and sorting through different edits of any individual track. Increased ties with iOS is another major addition, as you can now upload a project to iCloud in a version compatible with GarageBand on iOS. This allows changes to be made to the file while on the go, straight from an iPhone or iPad. Other features include Selection-Based Processing, which makes it possible to apply a combination of effects to any selection of audio, and beefed up internals driving the app including a 64-bit summing engine.
GarageBand 2.2 for iOS brings the compatibility features necessary to edit an exported Logic file, as mentioned above. Though there seems to be no sign of Logic making its way to iOS, this addition helps mitigate the issue slightly for occasions when your Mac isn’t nearby but an iPhone or iPad is.
The latest update also comes with a new synthesizer called Alchemy, which includes a collection of over 150 patches designed by Apple and covering a wide range of genres. Anyone who regularly records in GarageBand should also appreciate the new Multi-Take Recording feature. New tools for adding one-tap vocal effects to a recording such as distortion or pitch correction were added too.
Logic Pro X 10.3 and GarageBand 2.2 are both available as free updates to existing customers. Logic Pro X is available on the Mac App Store for $199.99, and GarageBand is available on the iOS App Store for $4.99.
Daniel Jalkut’s Red Sweater Software released a free Touch Bar simulator for the Mac. The app, Touché, generates a floating Touch Bar simulator on your Mac’s screen. Touché requires macOS 10.12.1 or later, but there’s a catch. Not all builds of 10.12.1 support the Touch Bar. If you download Touché and it tells you you need a more current version of Sierra, click the ‘More Info’ button to get a link to a version of macOS that works with Touché.
Although clicking a simulated Touch Bar is not the same experience as the real thing, I found it interesting to see what tools were available in Apple’s built-in apps like Pages, Numbers, and GarageBand and imagine what using the Touch Bar is like.
Touché is available from Red Sweater’s website as a free download.
The first reviews of the MacBook Pros with Touch Bars have begun to hit the web. In connection with his review of the new laptops on Backchannel, Steven Levy spoke to Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, about the motivation behind the Touch Bar and recent criticisms leveled against Apple’s new MacBook Pros.
Levy raised the perennial question of why Apple didn’t just make a touchscreen MacBook Pro. In response, Schiller told Levy it’s not possible to design for a pointing device like a touchpad or mouse and a touchscreen without designing to the lowest common denominator:
“Our instincts were that it didn’t [make sense to do a touchscreen], but, what the heck, we could be wrong—so our teams worked on that for a number of times over the years,” says Schiller. “We’ve absolutely come away with the belief that it isn’t the right thing to do. Our instincts were correct.”
Schiller also bristled at the suggestion by Levy that the Touch Bar represents what Levy characterized as the ‘overall annexation of the Macintosh platform’ by iOS. Schiller responded that the Touch Bar:
“…is pure Mac,” he said. “The thought and vision from the very beginning was not at all, ‘How do we put iOS in the Mac?’ It was entirely, ‘How to you use the [iOS] technology to make a better Mac experience?’”
I look forward to trying the Touch Bar. With it only available on one line of laptops, it remains to be seen how widely it will be supported by third-party developers, but what I’ve seen planned for Adobe’s products, Sketch, 1Password, and other apps makes me optimistic.
There’s a fine line between whether bringing iOS technology to the Mac is in the service of creating a better Mac experience or amounts, as Levy characterizes it, to ‘the annexation of the Mac platform,’ but just as certain iOS gestures made sense to bring to the touchpad, the Touch Bar feels like a natural way to migrate Mac app toolbars to the keyboard and enhance the manipulation of linear content like audio and video.
Good overview by Benjamin Mayo of all the Apple apps that will have Touch Bar integration on the new MacBook Pros. Apple certainly had the time to build extensive support for the new API while waiting for the new Pros to ship.
That’s a total of 23 Apple apps that live in the /Applications root folder with Touch Bar support as of the current macOS 10.12.1 build. The following apps have no Touch Bar integration as far as I could tell; App Store, Automator, Chess, Dashboard, Dictionary, DVD Player, Font Book, Image Capture, Photo Booth and Stickies. I expect all of Apple’s apps to flesh out their Touch Bar integrations in future macOS update.
See also: Steve Troughton-Smith’s utility to grab a screenshot of the currently active app in the Touch Bar.
At yesterday morning’s Hello Again keynote event, Apple announced the long-awaited update to their professional laptop line. The new MacBook Pro comes in two sizes and features a thinner body and upgraded internals. It also comes equipped with Apple’s brand new Touch Bar, a Retina touchscreen display which replaces the row of function keys atop the keyboard, and a Touch ID sensor.
These new machines mark the first significant spec advancements for the MacBook Pro since they moved to Haswell processors in 2014, and the first notable hardware changes since going Retina in 2012. As such, it’s no surprise that the new MacBook Pro is an improvement in nearly every way over previous models. This is truly the next generation of Apple’s flagship laptops.