Not long after its debut on the iPad, Traktor DJ is available for the iPhone and iPod touch. The surprise is that more or less all the functionality of the bigger iPad version is there, only reorganized visually for the smaller screen.

In fact, zoom in on a waveform and it’s the same height in your hand as it is on the iPad mini.

You get the same 3-band EQ and filter sections, waveform loop and cue points, time analysis, scrubbing, library browsing and management, and even the same eight effects. NI has been fairly clever fitting that onto a phone without things feeling crowded; you can easily slide out other interface options or get them out of the way and focus on mixing and waveform manipulation, comfortably looking at one waveform at a time or both.

I’ve been using Traktor DJ ahead of its release, and it’s quite enjoyable to use.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to use this as a DJ tool – not anyone in their right mind, anyway. (Watching someone DJ with a phone just seems wrong. And it’s just too small to use in a club, it seems.) You could presumably keep it around as a kind of waveform-playing sample instrument, sitting it atop a keyboard, for instance.

But the more likely application seems to be working with the iPhone as a mobile companion to Traktor. The iPad version already demonstrated the utility of managing libraries away from the main Traktor app, for processing new collections of music and trying out mix orders and setting cue points. In a phone, enhanced mobility makes that even more practical.

And this in turn reveals some of the potential of phones for use with desktop software. It’d be great to edit Ableton Live drum racks or Operator patches on the go. Or to adjust the mix on a project in Reaper. We’ve seen some ideas like this – handheld transport controls are common, and some apps like Apple’s own GarageBand do have mobile versions – but it seems there’s a lot more possible.


Speaking of what’s possible, NI does make an intriguing statement in their press release:

“The release of TRAKTOR DJ for iPhone is the realization of one of Native Instruments’ long-term visions – to use touch-controlled waveform displays to create a more direct way to interact with music. The success of the iPad version demonstrates this new paradigm has been eagerly adopted by the DJ and wider iOS community.”

Suggesting it’s a “new paradigm” seems unfair. Other iOS apps had already done the same thing before Traktor came on the scene, and touch control of waveforms has long been a way of demonstrating touchable music.

But I am at least cautiously hopeful that this means we’ll see other NI iOS development – like some attention given to the stagnant state of iMaschine. In fact, my major complaint about iMaschine – its inability to manipulate the waveform with in and out points – would be a natural for this approach.

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On the iPad, I still think TouchAble has some fantastic competition – well worth considering both:
A DJ App for iPad That’s Modular, For Exactly What You Want: d(- -)b from touchAble Creators

And MIDI input and sync will be killer for whoever gets it first. (Hint, hint.)

But on the iPhone, Traktor may have become the app to beat.