It’s cheaper than dedicated Digidesign hardware or automation surfaces – and it’s pricier than all the other iPhone / iPod Touch music apps we’ve seen. But Alex le Lievre has made his iPhone Pro Tools controller software, a story we broke on CDM in December, available on Apple’s store. And it’s the most like a pro … tool of any app we’ve seen yet.

The idea, as we originally saw, is fully duplicating your Pro Tools onscreen interface in a touchable interface on your iPod Touch or iPhone, complete with interactive feedback on channel settings, audio levels, and the like.

The updated release is ProRemote 1.0. A “lite” version is US$39.95, but the full version will set you back US$149.95. That’s caused some complaints from about everyone with whom I’ve talked about this, although I have to say if the resulting tool is useful to you, that’s in line with other “pro” music software (which I expect was the idea). I do think, though, that a lower price might have helped this be an impulse buy for all the Pro Tools users out there.

Pricing aside, the app itself is amazing. Thanks to all of you for the flood of tips on this one, as well. (My general sense is, we’re all skeptical of the iPhone, but likewise interested in seeing what it can do. There wasn’t any rampant “fanboyism” in any of those tips.)

Here’s a video of the new release in action:

As you can see, you get true bi-directional control with an interface on-screen that looks like the interface of the software, plus live feedback on audio levels. Even the Lemur and Dexter aren’t quite this slickly integrated with software. You can even control Pro Tools dialog boxes.

The difference between the versions (see full feature table):

Light: HUI protocol only (so it could be used with Live, Logic, DP via their HUI support), 8 channels

Pro: Dedicated transport view (with marker settings, scrubbing touch area), undo/save features, landscape meter bridge, 32 channels

Something else really odd is going on – I can’t access the ProRemote full version via the US iTunes. Yes, Apple’s store seems to be as screwy as developers are saying it is.

The Pro version also promises enhanced support for other DAWs. I’d love to see a little love for Live and Logic. The idea is, buy into the Pro version, get more stuff later. This is a case, though, where a demo version is badly needed, but that’s not available via Apple’s store.

Devil’s advocate: Of course, there are lots of ways of controlling DAWs, and I can imagine many of us (myself included in some cases) will continue to prefer tangible feedback. Mixing from an iPhone would seem woefully imprecise, and while it’s nice to have transport features, something like the Frontier TranzPort DAW remote is also wireless – and you can fumble around for a button without having to look at it. Many of you also point out that a disadvantage of the iPhone is that you have to cradle it in one hand while using it in the other.

Then again, pointing out these weaknesses isn’t to say there isn’t some real potential here, or that this wouldn’t work for some people.

If you do spring for it, we’d love to hear how it goes. And even if you don’t, you can see some of the potential of touch apps for DAWs of the future. So, DAW developers, time to start thinking about fingertips as well as mice when considering your UI.

Far Out Labs [Official developer site]

For more technical details, with some caveats on touch control, see Far Out’s FAQ

CDM’s scoop on the story last year, with early details from the developers:

Control Pro Tools with an iPhone or iPod Touch