Mobile music suites date back to the first PDAs; the Palm has long been a stand-out platform with apps like Chocopoolp’s wonderful Bhajis Loops. The iPod Touch and iPhone have been a hotbed for development, thanks to sharing development frameworks with the Mac. That led our iPod/iPhone software round-up to be bursting with good stuff. But lacking a final SDK from Apple, many of the options were, admittedly, early in development or toy-like.


Intua’s new BeatMaker, a complete music studio, looks more like a real music tool. The basic functionality:

  • Mobile sampler: 16 pads for editable sample playback, slicing, and pattern recording. (I hoped this meant you could actually record on the fly, but it looks like you can’t.)
  • Step sequencer with an interesting-looking interface, pictured above
  • Effects: two channels with beat-synced delay, 3-band EQ, and bit-crushing distortion

Intua Product Page

We’ll be watching for news from Apple this week, which should give us a better sense, hopefully, of what Apple’s developer plans are. To me, the restrictions so far (limiting features, eliminating multi-tasking, and requiring distribution via official Apple outlets) dampen some of the appeal of the platform. Likewise, so far we’ve seen basically “hacked” development – and quite frankly, it’s been more interesting as a result. We should know soon more about what officially-sanctioned development will look like for music. BeatMaker could be one of the first generation of apps to fit that category.

And lest I just seem sour, to me the larger point is that OSes come and go; what we’re really seeing is richer capabilities on mobile devices. Apple certainly deserves credit for making that vision most apparent in a shipping device.