What happens when an interface is no longer locked to the screen? What about making control simply work from your hand, on a different screen, with awareness of the world around it? Simple as the early implementations may be, that’s really the vision behind mobile control applications for music and visuals.

c74 is a lovely iPhone-based app that uses a Max/MSP patch to generate interfaces from a patch that run on your handheld. It isn’t just a control surface, though; access to native APIs on the phone also provide other features.

  • GPS for specific location. (How you use that is up to you; I recommend the ability to switch between “West Coast” and “East Coast” beats.)
  • Accelerometer data, and specific “shake” gestures.
  • Compass orientation.
  • Proximity. (That means your proximity to the device, though it’d also be fun with mobile to use Bluetooth to tell when different devices are nearby.)

The external is free. It’s currently Mac OS X-only. (If people respond well, perhaps we can see about a Windows build.) The app itself is paid, but see below — Mac and Max/MSP users, I’ve got some codes to give away.

The app is called c74, but it’s entirely unofficial, the work of Dutch developer Leo van der Veen. (The site even has the cheeky name nr74.org; Cycling ’74, I’d say you have a fan. And, um, I’m glad you’re a small company rather than a litigious big one – that’s better for everyone.)

This isn’t the only app to attempt something like this. The iPhone app Mrmr attempts to produce an entire interface protocol for exchanging templates; I’m collaborating now with the developer of that app on … something. I won’t jinx it by saying more for now; stay tuned. (It’s nothing earth-shaking; I just want to finish it!) The idea of Mrmr is that a performer could beam a control template to a friend, or you could walk up to an art installation and grab the template on your own mobile; eventually, it could even work on different devices (not just Apple ones).

iPhone on the beach. Now, just get Leo to add over-mobile-network control for the app, and you can literally phone in your performance. Photo (CC-BY) Gonzalo Baeza HernΓ‘ndez.

c74 is distinct from that effort in a couple of ways. It’s very specific to the iPhone APIs. It’s really specific to Max, and focuses on generating those templates from a Max patch in a flexible manner. It doesn’t actually even use OpenSoundControl, though the principle is the same – it opens a network socket and communicates wirelessly. (In fact, just as you can represent MIDI messages without using a 5-pin MIDI DIN cable, you can use OSC-formatted messages without needing the whole protocol. And underneath OSC is really just a bunch of standard networking protocols – that’s part of the point. So we almost need another name for general-purpose, open “networking.” Actually, maybe the word “networking” works.)

Right now, there isn’t a whole lot of interoperability between different development environments, different mobile devices (there is a big world beyond iPhone), and different template apps (which are growing in number by the day). But I’m not overly concerned about that. Right now, I think it’s just as well that people try a lot of different experiments.

As that evolves, the next step could really be finding ways of communicating template information in standard ways, based on the real-world experience of how these apps work. TUIO has already caught on as a way of describing multitouch input, as seen first on the ReacTable. What that protocol does is actually fairly cool: it just takes a set of practices used by real artists, and builds the standard protocol around those practices, rather than the other way around. I think it should be possible to continue to expand on these kinds of descriptions.

Want a copy of c74 for your iPhone / iPod touch and your Max 5-running Mac? I have just ten copies to give away. So tell us in comments what Max patch project you’d like to run with this, and convince me that you’ll send us a short video of the results. I’ll take the first ten compelling comments and email you a code. (That means you DO need to leave an email in the comment form; only the site admins and I can see it.)

I’m in touch with Leo, as well, so we’ll certainly keep this discussion going about control in general.

Project site:

Update – important – US ONLY for codes.

  • is this the kind of app that would work with runtime? im a max for live owner but havent paid for the full max5 because im still very new to programming and prefer to stay involved actually using the apps, so ive always gotten along fine with runtime. it would be a shame if i had to shell out more $$ to be able to use something like this….but it looks SICK!

  • dtr

    Now you come up with that… I have already bought it πŸ˜›

  • Brandon

    Hey Peter. I'd love a copy of this to experiment with controlling buffer markers and other xyz coordinates with the accelromter! I will absolutely shoot something interesting and send it off. Very excited about this, with or without a code!


  • If I owned this app I'd try and make a collaborative audio app using iphones or possibly other wireless controllers depending on whether:

    a)You can have more than one instance of the object at once.

    b)Anyone else with an iphone comes round my house and initial tests seem worthy of £3 investment.

    I've been dreaming about minimalist bleepy rock band clone which gives you hints but also allows you total freedom.

  • It'd involve sex toys, and you know I'm true to my word on these matters.

    Really, can you turn down an offer like that?

    It'd also be nice to be able to duct tape my iPhone to other controllers as a faux-integrated sensor. I don't know how many times I've thrown a control surface across the room in anger and wished I'd been able to generate something out of the trajectory afterward. If I could incorporate the ending global location and facing direction of the controller, all the better (just in case I start throwing them out of high windows, helicopters, moving vehicles, etc…)

  • I am dieing to use it with an iPad (he did mention in the boards that that was in the works. It be used to tour a museum/sound installation to interact with each area, allowing both video and audio manipulation. This looks like a fantastic app.

    I will most definitely send a video.

    Would love to know if it has the ability to have tabs… or could the interface change as you move around a space?

  • Ooh! Thus would be great for integrating acceleromter data into my cellular automata multiphonic breeding patch. I could run multiple instances and pan them in surround with the accel, among other things that would surely come to light if I had this app πŸ™‚

  • already own it πŸ™‚

    now need to get my Max chops down…I've already got the my II V lines and tritone subs down.. πŸ˜‰

  • rotallicso

    trust me – i am the UI beta testers beta tester, i'll break this thing to make it better for all of us – there ain't no soft/hard come my way i ain't had some fixin' paws on – i can then divert those precious cents saved to feed ma poor famolee 'n kids !

    in time, thy fruits be known – depends what it is good for after all


  • Neat! I'm developing a cued, live video capture and playback / compositing system for a performance at the Chocolate Factory theatre in Queens, NY. It involves two serial controlled security cameras which must be controlled and by a performer on stage – right now we're doing the whole thing with an apple remote and dinovo mini keyboard, but its a total hack. c74 seems like it would totally kill as a final solut'n. And video is gonna exist anyway, regardless, so I can definitely promise that!

  • Oooh, I was planning on buying this to build a little Max for Live interface that would allow me to step away from the computer in my studio.

    Also it would be nice to integrate this into one of my Jitter patches I've been working on for realtime video slicing. I would love to scrub through my video by literally running around my studio shaking my phone in the air. I would totally be willing to send a video if you have any codes left!

  • Jeff Brown

    Android! Android! Android!

  • I'm taking classes in MAX at UC Berkeley, and lately I've been messing around with this Japanese guys patch that does vocal pitch shifting without changing the duration, and vice versa. would be really cool to see how "live" you could get vocal modulation using an iphone and a mic.

    i'd love a code!

  • Thanks for the code. Unfortunately it is only redeemable in the states and whilst there is a way round it – get another account with a US address – I tried this and ended up not knowing what account/what computer/what country store I was using. So I've used the code up but no app!

    I probably have the app somewhere but I'm so busy cursing apple I'm going to have to calm down a bit before I look for it!

  • griotspeak

    An interface for monoroute and the like would be very nice. Essentially, a nice little grid with the names of the apps running, maybe the prefix and track name.

    another interesting use would be to make a 64 into a 256 via dynamic scrolling on the iphone

    i have made a couple videos of clipnome…

  • JonYo

    Hmm. My immediate plan is actually non-musical amusement.

    iphone runing c74 -> Max on MBP -> serial output adapter -> servo controller -> roboto arm

    How about that thurrr code? No biggee, I'm totally going to buy it anyway if I don't get a free code.

  • AS OF NOW —

    Okay, codes are out. That is, unless I can get Gav's blown code back from the US store. Eep.

    Of course, I still want to know what people are thinking.

    As for Android-

    Yes. Stuff is coming. The multitouch APIs just came out and I've just gotten a class that makes them work consistently across devices.

  • GreaterThanZero

    I do like the spirit of this contest, but I also think the target user (someone who owns an Apple touch device, and at least a student license of max/msp) can man up and spend $3.99 without a free code.

    Every minute that you spend waiting to see if you've won is a minute you could have been playing with this…

  • Well, it's one round at happy hour, so I'll just assume the next round is on the users. πŸ˜‰

    In fact, outside of iTunes, we could get a whole beer-based ecosystem. This may be an idea for an alternative Android App Store waiting to happen.

    Would not encourage temperance…

    Perhaps "beer and tea and Sarsaparilla."

  • Yes managed to trackdown the app and install it!

    Thats what I like about Apple products – they just work!

  • MstrPrgrmmr

    Bought the app , doesn't work in my 3GS , won't open πŸ™

  • petterw

    Amazing! An iPad with this app will be insanely great (wonder what the guys at Jazz Mutant will do with their $$$$ Lemur(s)…). The ability to sync different layouts in time with M4L seems too good to be true:). BTW: great site, Peter, I have read it for some time but this is my first post. Cheers from Oslo, Norway:)

  • "GPS for specific location. (How you use that is up to you; I recommend the ability to switch between “West Coast” and “East Coast” beats.)"


    I use this soft and Max Patch to control all devices ( mac, pc, videoprojector, light, …) in my showroom at work.

  • @MstrPrgrmmr : Are you sure that your iphone and your computer are on the same network???

  • f.e

    I'm using Fantastick since almost *a year*.


    In what c74 does something Fantastick doesn't ?

  • MIchael Coelho

    @Peter – thanks for the heads up. I'm new to Max-MSP-Jitter and Max for Live. I'm still working my way through the extensive and well written tutorials. I bought the app for my iPhone and can't wait to play with it.

    @Kyle – can't wait to see your video. The merging of teledildonics and Max with iPhone touch control is long overdue.

  • I read about this yesterday after coming across the link in a David Henderson's comment on the "What's New for Lemur" article. Looks amazing and well worth the $4 in the app store.

    I would love to see this and other apps come out for Android. Especially with all the multi-touch Android devices on the horizon. An Android port of TouchOSC is already in the works (http://hexler.net/news-round-up), and I'm keeping an eye out for more. Time to start digging into the Android SDK.

  • Niiice… thanks for that, instant buy


  • MstrPrgrmmr

    @EATYone yeah, the app in iphone just keeps in the loading screen with the logo and then shuts down automatically πŸ™

  • eshefer

    note: this application requires mac os 10.5 or higher on the mac.

  • loganc


    Hope I'm not too late! I'm up in the air about which max patch I would use if I had this– I own a Lemur, Ableton-max, basically the works as far as this goes. I'de like to see what kinds of interactions would be possible when a Lemur is added into the mix (and if it gets really nasty, ableton).

    I'm a digital arts a/v design/tech at the University of Nebraska, so with the resources available, I think we'll be able to create something very worthy (and hopefully that won't be the end of it).

  • JonYo

    I've gotten started with the c74 maxobj and so far I like it alot. I suppose it's not as raw and consequently as versatile as the "fantastick" app that f.e mentioned above, but it is super easy to get started and have usable controls on your iphone in no time. I wonder if gaining more popularity among the MaxMSP community will cause a problem with regards to the name once cycling74 catches wind of it, if they haven't already. I mean, calling your Max-related iphone app "c74" seems like a cease and desist letter from cycling74 waiting to happen.

  • I'd love to use this .. any chance of a windoze build ? I have XP .

  • Ruff-tek

    Hi I would like to use in an experience centre. I have iPad apps already that control the environment the user is in. I wish to extend on the functionality the control system I use gives me by having it recieve a UDP message when the iPad is picked up or put down. You have also captured my imagination with the shake option! please may I have the MAX Patch???? ralphillingworth@gmail.com

  • Ruff-tek

    Hi I would like to use in an experience centre. I have iPad apps already that control the environment the user is in. I wish to extend on the functionality the control system I use gives me by having it recieve a UDP message when the iPad is picked up or put down. You have also captured my imagination with the shake option! please may I have the MAX Patch???? ralphillingworth@gmail.com

  • Ruff-tek

    Hi I would like to use in an experience centre. I have iPad apps already that control the environment the user is in. I wish to extend on the functionality the control system I use gives me by having it recieve a UDP message when the iPad is picked up or put down. You have also captured my imagination with the shake option! please may I have the MAX Patch???? ralphillingworth@gmail.com