Back before the iPad (perhaps deservedly) hogged the spotlight, there were interactive tables. And one of the selling points of these new interfaces was collaborative play. Unlike the solo experience of using a computer, you’d gather around a display surface – just as you would a dining room table – and share the device. You’d play together.

The iPad is much smaller, but in a way, that lends a certain charm, cramming hands around its little surface. (Anyone play Hungry, Hungry Hippos?)

Tapping fingers on that shared surface, you have an experience that, while perhaps less finely-tuned than using the iPad one-on-one, you actually get to have with other human beings

And so that reason alone gives Rockmate special mention. I hear mainstream journalists ask questions like “is this the way people will play music in the future?” That’s, of course, roughly as intelligent as someone looking at Pong and saying, “well, I guess that about does it for Wimbledon, huh?” But it’s the awkwardness of playing a virtual band that makes this look like fun, like something families and friends might use. It could also be fun to play after a little too much NAMM. And the developers have lavished functionality on it (see specs below). They’ve also got an intro price of $1, or about one quarter per person. Have at it. I think it looks like brilliant fun.

It’s a set of sampled instrument for four players on a single device, with:

Realtime looper
Smart metronome
Mixer with level and pan controls
Realtime Fx (distortion, multiFX, powerchord)
Chords progression customizable
Create your own chords
Save your styles (Chords progression, FX, Drum, keyboard style…)
Export: .wav or .aac
Sharing: iTunes sharing folder and Email.

The chord feature brings back fond memories of home organs for me. From the developers of the excellent DM1 drum machine.

On iTunes:

Rockmate @ iTunes Music Store

Official site: