Handheld music making gets its share of criticism and nose-upturning from “serious” digital musicians. Indeed, some of the apps hold up to a few minutes of casual use but fail to form that long-term relationship that makes us love musical tools and toys. Limitations can be good, but many of these tools aren’t open to from-scratch sound design. And when you get back to your desk, you’re often stuck with clumsy workflows like exporting to raw audio files – and that’s if you’re lucky; some applications even lack tools that basic.
Jasuto is different. Its graphical, modular interface is open-ended and powerful, but fun to play with for beginners and advanced users alike. The simplicity of its UI points the way for even desktop apps. Sounds are never restrictive, with access to to nearly-endless sound processing and synthesis capabilities. And once you’ve sketched something out on a mobile, you can still bring it into your “desktop” workflow by loading a VST plug-in for Mac and Windows, ensuring those on-the-bus sketches can evolve into finished tracks when you get back home.
Needless to say, it’s therefore very, very good news for Android owners that Jasuto is making it to the platform.
Some features are missing in this release – community browser, multitouch support, and mic input are forthcoming. But it’s already good fun to play with, and, thanks to the fact that Android Market users are (cough) evidently whiney cheapskates, the cost is only two bucks! I’ve just bought it myself, and hope that playing with this when I hit Heathrow Airport tomorrow cures my jetlag; I’ll report back.
The Android platform isn’t without its disadvantages. Developer Chris Wolfe has already run into some classic problems – mediocre audio output performance with Android’s AudioTrack API, multitouch inconsistencies, and weirdness dealing with something like mic input have presented hurdles.
That hasn’t stopped Jasuto from being workable now for end users, but speaking as an Android developer, I hope we can also band together and fix some of these issues. In the midst of passionate platform arguments online, it’s easy to forget: platforms improve. (Heck, remember when Apple claimed the Safari browser was their “SDK”? Or early versions of iPhone with rampant app crashes?) But waiting for improvements isn’t enough; if you care about a platform, you have to invest time to help ensure they happen, particularly when the OS is marketed as open. Stay tuned.
But if you have been considering developing for Android, and you have a device (or a friend) handy, you owe it to yourself to give Jasuto a go. Let us know how you fare.
Note: yes, I need to do a full-blown Android round-up shortly; this is just to get the ball rolling.