This app turns iPhone 3D touch into an expressive instrument

You can get the feeling of “pushing into” an iPhone as of the iPhone 6S. It’s an expressive, intimate gesture, which is generally used for … wait, really, shortcut menus? That’s pretty boring. Ever since I saw the feature, I wanted to see it used for music applications. And one obvious fit is an emerging standard for sending expressive pressure-based control over MIDI. The futuristic, sleek black ROLI Seaboard does it. The lovely, wooden Madrona Labs Soundplane does it. Roger Linn’s innovative grid-covered Linnstrument does it. It’s all a (draft) specification for control called MPE – Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression. (Early …

Erasure playing live onstage on the Mac.  (CC-BY-SA) Andrew Hurley.

Apple’s relationship with pro music needs some mending

What happens when a key relationship in music technology turns a bit sour? There’s no mistaking the music world’s preference for Apple products. But there are some specific causes for concern in the way Apple is handling its desktop operating system and its relationship with pro musicians. First, let me be clear. I’ve covered Apple and music for a long time. I’ve met some of the people handling these products; some of them I’ve known fairly well in a professional capacity. I have tremendous respect for the company, its products, and its management. I’ve been a regular contributor to Macworld …


The real Apple news is that macOS audio should get fixed this month

While everyone is freaking out about headphone jacks on phones, the news this week musicians should really care about is that a badly needed OS update is on its away. Apple quietly set Tuesday, the 20th of September as the release date for the next major Mac revision – macOS Sierra (10.12). (It’s no longer called “OS X,” so as with Hillary Clinton and techno and Crystal Pepsi in stores, it’s the 90s all over again.)

Photo courtesy Apple.

The end of the headphone jack isn’t the end of wired headphones

Not much need be said about Apple’s elimination of the headphone jack. Yes, wired headphones remain a superior solution for some applications. But because Apple is shipping a Lightning-to-audio adapter in the box with the iPhone, this is a non-issue. After all, you’ve already kept track of 1/4″ to 1/8″ minijack adapters for all your studio headphones for years. (Okay, to be fair, by “keep track of” in my case I generally mean “lose,” but, uh… wait, what were we talking about again?) There are certainly reasons for Apple to do this. The innards of an iPhone are crammed enough …

"New MacBook." Photo (CC-BY Maurizio Pesce.

Feel the beat on a Magic Trackpad or MacBook with free tool

Don’t like clicks or beeps or other sounds when using a metronome? Try some haptic feedback instead, with this free utility.


Tested: Apple finally lets you charge and use USB on iPad

Tools like the iPad have brought us lots of nice new things – day-long batteries, ultra-thin lightweight devices, beautiful touchable apps, less time spent troubleshooting. But then they’ve also forced us to make weird choices. Do you want electricity or do you want accessories. (Um, both? Wait, what?!) And so it is that I’m writing this piece of news. Now, you can plug into a wall for electricity! (Wow!) And, you can use USB accessories! And you don’t have to choose!

Light some candles, make some music. Sounds like a nice evening in to us. Photo courtesy Apple.

Apple’s new iOS lineup is a gift to music developers, users

There’s a reason “mobile music” has become synonymous with iOS. Apple has been unmatched in terms of how appealing they make their mobile platform to developers. Today’s announcements are likely to be heavily covered by tech and Apple-focused sites, but we can cover the music angle pretty easily. It’s now possible to buy a new phone or tablet very cheaply with high-end performance capable of running demanding music apps. And that means the platform is likely to continue to attract both users and developers, in a continuous cycle. On the phone side, a 16GB iPhone 6SE starts at US$399, without …


Here’s what’s new in GarageBand 2.1 for iOS – and why it matters

Apple is also releasing today a 2.1 upgrade to GarageBand for iOS. The mobile sibling of GarageBand and Logic on desktop doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, but it’s a reminder that music creation remains central to Apple – even the Apple that sells the world’s favorite phone, not just the Apple that sells the Mac. GarageBand 2.1 includes some features you may or may not care about. But there’s reason to take notice.


Apple wants you to use your iPhone as a musical sketchpad

Apple has apparently been paying attention to the way musicians use their iPhones. If you’re like me, you’ve occasionally used Voice Memos for a quick musical idea or impromptu field recording. Apple is now turning that into an app, called Music Memos.


Apple is probably killing headphone jacks, but don’t panic

It’s the same old story: if you love Apple, you better also love carrying around little adapters. In a surprise to no one, latest reports – including one from Fast Company – suggest Apple is about to nix the 3.5mm “minijack” analog headphone jack from its next iPhone. (iPad and presumably laptops, too, would be next in line.) There are two common misunderstandings of the news. One reading (from Apple critics) assumes this locks you into proprietary Apple headphones. It doesn’t. The other (from Apple fans who don’t know that much about audio) assumes higher audio fidelity from “digital” headphones. …