Intua is the first to get a full-fledged music creation app on the iTunes App Store, with an MPC-style sampler and step sequencer, plus effects, for the iPhone and iPod Touch. This isn’t just a toy for triggering sounds or a useful utility like a guitar tuner; it’s an actual music app on which you can produce whole songs. As with any mobile app, there are tradeoffs versus a desktop tool – but its simplicity is likely to be part of its appeal. US$19.99.

Most importantly, it’s available now.

The basic features:

  • 16-pad sample triggering. Drum kits and other samples, with “auto chop,” pitch, tuning, reverse, mute, and even a nice wave editor for touch-selecting where you want sample start and end points.
  • Step and song sequencer: Create patterns with a touchable step sequencer, then arrange them into bigger songs using a multitrack editor.
  • Live performance support: Pattern triggering and recording is live, so you could use this as a performance tool.
  • 2 effects channels: Synchronized delay, 3-band EQ, bit-crusher capabilities
  • Pre-loaded kits and samples
  • Sync with desktop audio: Apple doesn’t provide music apps with easy ways of getting files in and out, so Intua has built one: a synchronization tool that lets you load in new audio kits and samples, and export audio back to your machine.

We can certainly see some of the strengths of the platform. The app looks absolutely gorgeous in screen shots; elements are big and friendly and don’t appear to strain the eyes. The touch capability works beautifully for pad triggering and step sequencing – there’s even a nice, draggable velocity and “groove” graph for the step sequencer.

BeatMaker's song sequencer

So how does BeatMaker stand up to the competition, at least on paper?

On the upside, you get a fast, friendly, fun interface, and one that has looks befitting Apple’s beautiful gadget. And, notably, this is an official app you can use without hacking your device. But some power users may still opt for gaming devices for more advanced mobile editing and synthesis. BeatMaker lacks any synthesis features, as on tools like PSPSeq or the upcoming Korg DS-10. (Perhaps we will see some in the future, though, since they got effects working – a bassline synth, perhaps?) You also don’t get wireless MIDI control and sequencing, as on the Nintendo DS’ DSMIDIWiFi, so you can’t connect BeatMaker to a computer studio in the way you can with NitroTracker on DS or the touch controllers aka.iphone and i3L on the iPhone/Touch.

BeatMaker’s real nearest rival may be PSP Rhythm on the PSP. I’ll be interested to hear whether BeatMaker’s audio engine stands up to PSP Rhythm’s on quality. BeatMaker has its lovely interface and touch capabilities, but PSP Rhythm has a synth (bassline and a general purpose wave synth) and a hardware-style interface some may prefer.

These aren’t criticisms – on the contrary, I think differentiation is a good thing. I’ve been having a number of conversations with developers, and part of what I’m hearing is that certain platform features continue to direct developers to different mobile platforms. Not everyone is migrating to Apple – meaning Intua has a chance to stake out a real niche here.

BeatMaker is the serious music creation app the platform has been waiting for, and it app gives you way more power for your dollar than a lot of what I’ve seen on the iPhone. It’s real, worthy, powerful app. If you’ve got an iPod Touch or iPhone and would like to test drive the app for CDM and write up a review / video a review, let me know!

Intua BeatMaker

Direct iTunes Link

(Thanks to everyone who sent this in! That’s always a good indication there’s excitement in the digital musician community around the device and this specific app.)


Mathieu has some more details: MIDI export is coming very soon. (Mic recording could be possible if there’s a better input solution.)

And one site already has a video hands-on (though CDMers, I’m sure you can do even better – we’ll have one or two of you on this soon).

BeatMaker for iPhone: Upcoming Features Q&A, Video Review


Big Updates for Handheld Homebrew Music: NitroTracker 0.4, PSPSeq 3, PSP Rhythm 8

Beyond Mobile Music Making: Organizational Musical Uses for iPhone, Other Smart Devices

  • Looks like you COULD do simple synthesis… Load single cycle samples to each pad and pitch to scale and then sequence, OR if you dont need to play, have a scale loop on one pad and chop and slice per the notes you need. Just add a switchable lo/mid/hi filter with resonance and it should be capable of a fair amount of sounds…

    Plus it has audio recording! Outside of Bhajis, what other program has that??

  • dptronz

    aw, no demo version?

  • Actually, I don't believe it does have audio recording, unless I'm missing something? I see only live pattern recording — though that's very cool.

  • Formal

    I'm updating to 2.0 now and gonna try this out. Once I get a chance to play around a bit I'll post some feedback 😀

    Happy Happy Joy Joy

  • Graham Metcalfe

    Got their email this morning so I'll have to check this out on my iPod Touch. Looks pretty cool. At first I was confused by the name since it sounds like Intuem ( music software for the Mac. Maybe a little too close!

  • This looks awesome! The fact that they creating syncing is key — otherwise it would be impossible to get samples in and finished songs out. This seems well worth the $20.

  • m.0

    I'm messing with it right now. You can do some really cool and unexpectedly good sounding stuff with it. I haven't tried to load up any of my own samples yet but I'm pretty impressed so far. Especially for a 1.0 product.

  • don p

    thumbs up. good working app.

  • This looks really intriguing. I'm trying it now on my iPT.

    The transfer app "BeatPack" doesn't seem to be available yet, but I'll be patient. The iTunes download includes quite a bit of content (the app is 118MB) which means it might not be available over the mobile apps store.

    This is an actual, real creative music making app for the iPhone/iPT.

    Kudos to Intua.

  • jose

    i just played with it for a little while. this thing rocks. can't wait to load my own samples.

  • Mike

    No one has asked the big question yet…. Can MIDI patterns be written in the program and then dumped into our DAW's later? If so, what is the process? I can't see myself spending $20 on a really stripped down music app but I would spend $50 (maybe more) if it had the ability to sketch out MIDI beats that could be used later in proper software.

  • apalomba

    This app looks promising. Although what I am

    really looking for is something that will let me

    notate/record melodic ideas. Something like Midnote…

    Now that would be cool!

  • Captain Howdy

    Yeah, I really need to make music on a phone.


  • Mike

    To Captain Howdy… It's not about making music on a phone. It's about getting an idea down when inspiration strikes and you aren't near the studio. If MIDI files can be exported (no confirmation on this yet) then that makes the software a tool rather than a toy. Supposing that user samples can be uploaded, it is 100% feasible for individual MIDI track export in a future update if it is not already possible. Can someone please clarify this for me? I have no problem paying for something useful but without MIDI export functionality, this is just a music game and I already have games on my iPhone.

  • apalomba

    Well, yawn all you like, I for one welcome the

    ability to write down musical ideas no matter

    where I am.

  • apoclypse

    Wow! This app is great! Its more like an iPhone mpc than a synth type thing and if you approach it that way its actually pretty damn good. I can see this getting better in the future as more mpc like features make it to the app. I'm extremely happy I got this.

    I tried Band but the latency was horendous so I ended up deleting it after playing with it for a couple of hours. This has pretty decent latency, you hit the pads and there is very little lag in response time. On a touch screen I think that's very important. It has sample chopping capabilities which is a huge plus and when Intuas releases the ability to import your own samples, I'm sure some enterprising beatmaker (or hip-hop beatnut) will go crazy. I haven't gotten to sample chop yet but I can imagine that it would be rather intuitive on a touch screen.

    It has a very professional and intuitive interface that took me by surprise because some of the other iphone apps look plain awful and are beta quality at best. Beatmaker is quite polished and well though out. It did give me issues after install, it would false start and kept crashing. A quick iphone restart (look ma, just like windows) resolved that. I also like the fact that its an official app and rightly so, it deserves to get into as many hands as possible.

    I think this is a killer iphone app so far (if not the THE killer iphone app). I definitely know what I'm going to waste my battery on.

  • Jason

    Anybody know if it allows you to export MIDI files?

  • Jay

    Demo video now on YouTube…..

    Looks nice!

  • Mike

    So currently no MIDI export (therefore a toy) but supposedly it is coming in v1.0.2. I wonder what the release date will be… Also curious to see if another developer comes out with something that stomps all over this app. Why have the major DAW developers not stepped up and released cut down versions of their programs for current users? It would make a lot of sense to be able to write and export MIDI in a familiar environment that could later be dumped into professional sequencers.

  • @Mike: You'll be the first to know when it has MIDI export.

    It'd be great to see Apple do something in this space, certainly … perhaps extend MainStage, for instance, as a remote. I think the main thing is, this stuff takes time, and DAW developers are very busy… plus, their apps may be built on frameworks that can't easily be ported to the iPhone platform. (That could make Linux mobile devices more interesting, by the way.) But even that aside, it's a time problem.

    I haven't seen anything in the pipeline quite like BeatMaker, though who knows. It sounds like we will see some cool drum machine sorts of things and other musical creations, though.

  • the iPhone is getting more attractive for me …… Really intruiging stuff.

  • looks great…but what about audio recording? I know that some developers seem to be worried that the iPhone's mic doesn't deliver quality audio, but I think getting hung up on audio quality obscures a great opportunity here.

    I would kill (or at least actually buy an iPhone, and the associated app) for something that would let me beatbox for 4 bars, quickly loop that beat and then track sung lyrics, hummed basslines, and countermelodies over that. I've been dreaming of having this capability in a device with practical form factor and sensible UI for at least a decade – is the time finally arriving?

  • Beats1

    Yep audio recording I think is a must, This isn't a professional piece of sequencing equipment and shouldn't be treated as one, it is a toy, but isn't a producers MPC2500 their toy too? it's a great app for jotting down quick ideas on the go, This would be easiest if you could beatbox, drum, sing, hum, or rap into it then use the recording as a pad and drop it in to a song ( to see if this beat goes well with this bass line ). Maybe a completely different app that is set up like a tape looping type thing?????? has anyone used any of the microphone apps, can you do anything like this on them?

    But had the app for 3 days now and still can't put it down. BeatMaker is the ultimate beat makers iphone app, and with the ability to load your own sounds, endless posibilities. ILOVEIT!

  • HS

    Bhajis runs circles around this thing when it comes to samples and effects…this thing has a LONG way to go to catch up with software written 3 years ago for a platform that has 2/3's less power.

    Nice start…now let's see where it goes.

  • Rc

    Is Beatmaker on an iphone/Ipod Touch something which could be seen as an alternative to a device like an AKAI MPC1000? (Im not fussed about portability).

    Also can you get samples from songs with BeatMaker like you can with an MPC1000. My understanding is that you can its just that you need to do it through a computer instead of directly from a device which plays music.


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  • I was never impressed with an iPhone until I saw this. This is amazing.

  • For a drum machine on S60 mobile phones, check out the BeatEd home page:

    BeatEd homepage

    YouTube video

  • jm999

    does anyone know if its possible to import your own tunes from your iphones music library into the programme? I'd like to know before I buy as I primarly mix using virtual DJ and am looking for a sufficient substitute.

  • JakeCook

    Can I put a beat that I made on to my iTunes?

  • kosstik

    the fact is yes bhajiis has more effect and synthesis but thé fact is beatmaker sounds much better and now has midi/Dave export and export wav directly into beatmaker without a computer. so i make synthesis with noise io and rythmic and sequencing with beatmaker. it is much more powerfull and entertaining than bhajiis to m'y opinion.