It’s easy enough to dismiss mobile music devices as toys, and I’d add, there’s really nothing wrong with toys. But the test – a personal one – is whether or not you can develop your musical ideas with them. Some of the deepest, most consistently satisfying tools for mobile devices are the ones that shrink down real production capabilities to a handheld size. Look closely at these apps, and you’ll see software that could easily have passed for “advanced” sequencers on computers fifteen years ago. (Indeed, I think arguably we’ve lost some usability with the complexity we’ve added since.)
While the iPhone phenomenon continues to grow, don’t write off Windows Mobile for music. Tony Stone sends a video showing off the piano roll-style sequencer in an app called AudioBox. It goes beautifully with the stylus – precision input that isn’t possible with your finger on the iPhone.
AudioBox Micro Composer is available at various online software stores. Here’s where Tony says he picked it up:
AudioBox Micro Composer @ ClickApps
AudioBox Product Page @ 4pockets [developer]
US$44.95, but for that you get the sequencer, an analog synth, a string pad synth, a samples, a drum machine, 16 channels of mixing, effects, editing capabilities, and “device automation” (not sure what that last one means). Part of the reason this is all possible is that developing for Windows Mobile is very much like developing for Windows – and unlike Google’s Android, you can write the apps in C/C++. If you’re not a developer, what that means it that you’re basically getting desktop-like apps.
Tony is worth checking out, too. He’s a Christian hip-hop artist, beatmaker and producer, and youth minister, and he’s promised some very interesting DIY projects coming soon. See his blog and MySpace page. We actually have a whole lot of readers making music in communities of faith, demonstrating that there’s a lot more diversity of musicians working with technology. It’s not at all limited to the view people have of the club or DJ scenes.
Side note: Microsoft should never have gotten rid of the Pocket PC moniker.