The APC40 is physically completely unlike the monome, but one important way it did learn from the experience of Live users’ desire to hack: you’ll be able to make your own, custom setups, using Max.
Ableton founder and CEO Gerhard Behles explains to Akai in an interview released this morning:
Owners of the APC40 who also own Max for Live can change the way the APC40 controls Live, and completely customize their experience. This means things like step sequencers and drum rack support and other things that only feel right with hardware will now be available for people who own these two great products. The boundaries of what you can do with complete customization and hundreds of LEDs are infinite.
I’m guessing at this point you might like to know what "Max for Live" is. Suffice to say, Cycling ‘74 said that they’d show their collaboration with Ableton at the NAMM show, and there’s an Ableton press conference later today.
My main question on this: how much control do you have? Is there anything special about the APC40, or is what Gerhard really saying that you can make your own weird step sequencers with whatever hardware you want using Max for Live? (For that matter, there’s no reason you can’t do this right now using Reaktor or Pd or a number of other tools that also work with Live.) My sense is actually that this is different, but in terms of what objects are specifically in there that enable it, we’re still waiting to find out (and may actually have more of those specifics after NAMM).