Mobile music suites date back to the first PDAs; the Palm has long been a stand-out platform with apps like Chocopoolp’s wonderful Bhajis Loops. The iPod Touch and iPhone have been a hotbed for development, thanks to sharing development frameworks with the Mac. That led our iPod/iPhone software round-up to be bursting with good stuff. But lacking a final SDK from Apple, many of the options were, admittedly, early in development or toy-like.


Intua’s new BeatMaker, a complete music studio, looks more like a real music tool. The basic functionality:

  • Mobile sampler: 16 pads for editable sample playback, slicing, and pattern recording. (I hoped this meant you could actually record on the fly, but it looks like you can’t.)
  • Step sequencer with an interesting-looking interface, pictured above
  • Effects: two channels with beat-synced delay, 3-band EQ, and bit-crushing distortion

Intua Product Page

We’ll be watching for news from Apple this week, which should give us a better sense, hopefully, of what Apple’s developer plans are. To me, the restrictions so far (limiting features, eliminating multi-tasking, and requiring distribution via official Apple outlets) dampen some of the appeal of the platform. Likewise, so far we’ve seen basically “hacked” development – and quite frankly, it’s been more interesting as a result. We should know soon more about what officially-sanctioned development will look like for music. BeatMaker could be one of the first generation of apps to fit that category.

And lest I just seem sour, to me the larger point is that OSes come and go; what we’re really seeing is richer capabilities on mobile devices. Apple certainly deserves credit for making that vision most apparent in a shipping device.

  • eS

    At last, something that could make me stop regretting Bhajis Loops on my old Palm T3…let's just hope for a reasonable price tag!

    And, YES: given the iPhone's mic, sampling would be great (Guess what – Bhajis Loops can do it!) 😉

  • In regards to the question of official Apple iPhone SDK development vs the rogue "open toolchain development" I think we will soon clearly see that they are going in different directions. And the only path which will be leveraging the advantages of Apple's new platform will be the official SDK.

    Sure there are limitations that are being imposed on the platform by Apple's "draconian" rules. But those constraints all have legitimate reasons. Usually they are intended to ensure that the platform remains stable and widely accessible. (Anyone who has used WinMobile can vouch that platform stability can be a fleeting thing. And once lost is never found again.)

    The iPhone has be phenomenally successful at opening up the "smartphone" to huge new markets of people who would never have considered such a device unless forced to use one. Similarly their AppStore will make independent software accessible to huge new markets of people who would never hack or jailbreak their phone and people who wouldn't normally seek out or install 3rd party software. (97% of 3rd party software purchased for WinMo is by males!)

    Many of the capabilities and liabilities of the jailbroken iPhone will be available from numerous other devices and platforms soon. But what those platforms won't have is access to the users the iPhone is cultivating.

    The users are the platform.

  • @RichardL: good points. I don't disagree, though the "rogue" development thing I think isn't about reaching a whole lot of users to sell software — they're separate paths. And I see an awful lot of people around with jailbroken iPhones, so while they're not necessarily a viable commercial market, they're not nonexistent either. (It's not all guys, either. "Supergeeks", perhaps.)

    I don't entirely buy the stable/accessible argument. I don't think Apple's store being the only outlet is about stability; it's clearly about control. It's Apple's prerogative to go that route, and maybe it will pay off — and likewise, developers for other platforms (Windows Mobile, for instance), have complained about the *lack* of a store. It can make commercial sense.

    But, you know, ultimately it's whether you see this as a phone or a mobile computer. If you see it as the latter, then you see more open platforms.

    My own bias is definitely toward open platforms; I'll be the first to admit. Then again, right now my main phone does far *less* than the iPhone, and I like it for that (thank you, Blackberry). And I think Palm and Blackberry, not Apple, still have the lion's share of installed "smart" user base. Their products are global, they cut across more demographics from what I can tell, and they have a popular appeal I think Apple *hasn't* yet achieved for all the hype — yet. With the app platform, more carriers, that could change.

    But really, all of this is theoretical until we have the next generation of Linux phones and the Android stack from Google in a shipping product. When that happens, there will be some competition to talk about, and I'm sure we'll find ups and downs on each side.

    The developers are the platform, too, and they're migrating to Apple, which could mean more users down the road. If I were on the mobile Linux, mobile Java, and Android side of things, I'd be very nervous about Apple being first, given what happened with iPod.

  • I hope this is just the tip of the iceberg. Don't forget that the chaps over at intermorphic are working on their new application <a>Mixtikl which they hope to bring to the iPod Touch as well.

  • This looks too good to be true. I have high hopes for this. Hopefully there will be some demos/examples soon.

    As an aside- was this developed with the offical SDK? I wonder what kind of legal water you'd be in for 'selling' a product that required cracking your iPhone. Has that been done, yet? Not that I have a problem with it personally, but I could definetly see Apple not taking too kindly to that kind of activity.

  • RichardL

    It must be built using the official SDK to be sold through the App Store, which they claim it will. But then, who knows what they've been using so far? It's just a teaser at this point.

  • cubestar

    Good article Peter, I think you are right to gauge your optimism with an eye toward Apple's penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

    Hopefully they will get their stuff together and do right by developers/users.

    – One thing I wish for is an iPod Touch with a bit bigger screen, seems too small to be useful in some ways…

  • Dwic

    So when are we gonna see this kind of stuff for Windows Mobile? I'm still waiting for a Fruityloops port.

  • Emil

    If I were developer @ pacemaker…I sure would have made an Apple appz release of the handheld pacemaker dj-tool, and developers @ Ableton should be busy with making the iphone-version, this goes for all appz-developers out there…even you KORG!

  • Hi Dwic!

    The first mobile version of Mixtikl will be for Windows Mobile; we're working on it right now!

    With best wishes,


  • J.

    BeatMaker is now available on Apple AppStore gentlemen…

  • Tom

    These guys have FREE BEATMAKER Kits!

    Thought I'd give you lovely people the link…

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