Hands Off: Apple Wants to Pull Orphion Music App Over Touch APIs

Apple’s devices have earned praise from developers for consistently supporting multiple fingers in predictable ways. But to go further with expression, one developer made use of the size of contact area on the screen. Any time a developer goes beyond “public” or official APIs, there’s a chance Apple will eventually balk. We knew this was a risk to the excellent music app Orphion when we covered it, but hoped, in fact, that if the app were successful, Apple might reconsider. Unfortunately, today we learn from developer Bastus Trump that Apple will remove the app. And that means, at the very …

Orphion is an instrument, merging ideas from percussion and strings into something you can play on the iPad. And now you can create your own layouts and tunings. Images courtesy the developer.

Freehand Playable Circles, in Any Tuning, on iPad: New Orphion Editor

Design is the art of compromise. And so, as the touch tablet asks you to sacrifice some things – velocity sensitivity, physical separation, tactile feedback – it gives back the ability to produce freeform interfaces. The iPad’s downside is that it is a piece of undifferentiated glass; its upside is that that glass can transform into anything you like. That makes it a bit puzzling when it is reduced to a set of fake knobs and faders, which has the advantages of neither physical hardware nor the iPad’s open-ended possibilities. When it was first produced, I praised Orphion as an …