Smule, the iPhone/iPod touch development house that has released an Ocarina and a Leaf Trombone to the iPhone, has now partnered with T-Pain and Auto-Tune to bring a T-Pain-branded app to the mobile platform. I interviewed Ge Wang earlier; he gets exceptional music geek cred for the creation of the real-time synthesis language ChucK.

But this app goes further. It isn’t just called Auto-Tune for iPhone, or T-Pain Presents Auto-Tune by Smule or something like that. It actually promises to turn you into T-Pain, sort of like the toys that make you sound like Darth Vader. And that means it has exactly one application – one essential application, I’d say. It means you can do amazing covers of “I’m on a Boat.”

Something has jumped a shark here, but I’m not sure which. Maybe it jumped over the shark onto the boat.

Two more serious observations:

One, this theoretically could be a useful addition to your mobile arsenal. Mike Una uses Auto-Tune to map the continuously-varying pitch of his “Beep-It” optical Theremin to a scale. Of course, the problem is that the iPhone lacks an audio input jack, though maybe someone has an idea for how to solve that.

Two, a question: just when, exactly, will we get basic audio DSP coding on a platform that’s not the iPhone? Sony’s PSP is arguably more powerful, but requires you to take your game system into a back alley to modify it to run homebrewed software. Google’s Android has more powerful hardware in the pipeline, at least, but there’s still not really official support for running native audio code (even though that’s how the phone’s own audio system was built). People are starting to simply say “iPhone app” when what they mean is “mobile app,” and that’s a shame.

  • Hulu is US-only. CDM isn't…

  • Don't know why this app wasn't developed to support the the 2nd gen Itouch as well.

  • Crap, I didn't actually try to install it. Usually apps that use the mic can use an external mic on the 2nd-gen iPod touch.

  • gwenhwyfaer

    Thanks, that's sorted it! And now I know it's by the people who brought us "Jizz in my Pants" it all makes sense…

  • incredible that t-pain was able to stake a marketing claim to a technique that's been so widely used for years – so much that many would consider it part of pop music's vernacular.

  • aws

    This should be called "I am Cher".

  • ericdano

    You do know that you there are several mic things for the iPhone right? I imagine that if this App doesn't support it right now, it will after an update. Plus they will probably have micropayments for new songs for people to "sing" to.

    Pretty genius if you ask me. This app will sell, and they will make a boat load of money.

    As for the PSP and Google's Android. The gap between their offerings and the iPhone/iTouch is huge. And growing. Apple gave it's developers excellent tools to make apps, and a great easy way to market them.

  • The 600Mhz ARM Cortex-A8 CPU used in the new iPhone 3GS is a powerhouse with its integrated Neon vector unit.

    Most (perhaps all) of the current or imminent Android devices don't even have a floating point unit. This is going to create a significant hurdle for Android-based DSP applications.

    (The ODROID non-phone Android device recently announced is supposed to use the Cortex-A8 CPU. And it's rumored that the Motorola Sholes Android device will use Cortex-A8.)

    But in either case it's important to remember that these are mobile phones and have nothing even close to the processing power of current laptops and desktop computers. DSP-gated mobile applications are always going to be fighting a losing battle.

  • @Richard: I can only speak to the PSP, but Ethan did some incredible work on PSPSEQ and because of the lack of any overhead on the system, had a really easy time squeezing some power out of that machine. I agree that the new ARM in the 3GS is incredible. Of course, it shows that, for all the criticism of Android on this point, even a single-vendor platform as restricted as Apple's is going to suffer from some fragmentation – either that, or you don't offer upgrades (which is closer to the rarer underlying hardware changes in the gaming world).

    The lack of floating-point is a huge pain; I can personally attest to that on the G1. But I don't think that'll last for long. What concerns me is that Google isn't allowing fully natively-coded apps. I'm a huge Java advocate, but that's a bit frustrating. Apparently, though the NDK does already allow audio system access, unofficially. At this point, I just hope the software and hardware upgrades ship around the same time. And actually, I think it wouldn't be a bad thing if a competing Linux-based platform entered the market, too, beyond just Google's entry.

  • One side note…

    1. If you have a device that's not also a phone, these things become more practical, which is why I really like the looks of Creative's Zii EGG (despite the bizarre name), with full video out, two cameras, and something that behaves more like a real mobile computer (running Android and Linux).

    2. There's no contest between a computer and a mobile device. I love computers. It's great to have the experience of programming a mobile device just as an exercise; I'm glad I've done that, as it's made me love computers more. But with these faster CPUs with built-in FPUs, I think you do have a solution for native coding to hardware that – while it may not compete with a computer – CAN compete with a DSP solution. DSP chips remain cheap and versatile and I know people love them, so that's not to say they're going away, but I do think we could see mobile music hardware/software solutions that use a native chip.

    Oh yeah, and I think you should freak people out by doing I Am Xenakis.

  • Spazmatron

    I really don't care about this app, but where can I see the "beep-it" + autotune in action?

  • Stush

    I bought this app and I am not very impressed with the quality. Sometimes when holding long notes it will give a sort of garbled wiggle that doesn't make sense considering the lack of variation in pitch while holding those long notes (ie why does it not just force the long note to one long pitch?). It does a good job giving the desired effect otherwise but every recording I've done with it has several undesirable portions and I can't seem to improve on that with repeated takes. The lack of any control over the autotuning beyond setting the scale means it's not even very good as a novelty in my opinion. Maybe it needs an update? I'm running it on an iphone 3GS.

  • I'd like to get this for my itouch 2g if it supported it.

  • RichardL

    Surprised they so down on the iPod touch with this drop. The homies down at Stanford know their target demographic carry the touch. (Unless Pops will bust for the iPhone plan.) Maybe they had what they call technical difficulties, and needed to hit the Labor Day picnic with this app. Gotta keep all that VC sugar happy and all. Rackin up the sales. Kaching. Kaching.

    No doubt they have something hooked up for next week with Apple throwin some love their way when they roll new iPods and what.

  • try some heliumdemon on rjdj for silly voice effects…

  • thanks for the "im on a boat"

    i laughed so hard i cried a little..


  • FYI – Smule support just emailed me and said that "I am T-pain" is available for the Itouch 2g now. I was able to download it to my itouch 2g now.

  • cobb

    the iPhone _comes_ with a external mic on the head set. it uses a 4 conductor 1/8" cable (left, right, _mic input_, and ground) that is pretty straight forward to make a break out cable for. then one can run audio from and arbitrary source (like my guitar) in and through any ol' app (like Loopordist by Christian Haudej) out into an amp or pa.

  • yap, you can use these camera cable , jack to 4 rcA , just use the video yellow one to plug your mic…

  • hum only for iphone actually////

  • isn't this app grat?

    someone Who knows if u can download it to satio, please!!!

  • Pingback: CDM’s Biggest Music Tech Stories of 2009 |

  • christopher mackey u

    We the t pai app on the droid