You may not love the new icons, but you'll probably love the new features. Courtesy Apple.

You may not love the new icons, but you’ll probably love the new features. Courtesy Apple.

It’s official: iOS 7 is adding inter-app audio functionality, for streaming sounds between different software. And whereas this appeared on a slide at last summer’s WWDC, this time, it’s really happening.

What does this mean for Audiobus and JACK? Well, Apple is promising some things those tools don’t do, just as those tools do things Apple’s described features may not. Since both JACK and Audiobus already make use of Core Audio, odds are you’ll just see all of this stuff get better and more powerful.

Unfortunately, developer documentation is Apple Confidential information and not something CDM can share. But in the meantime, rest assured that we’re researching how this will work so we can share it when it gets to the stage that it’s something you can use. (If you’re a developer, of course, you can access those documents; part of Apple’s warning is that these tools are under development and subject to change, so end users should feel reasonably comfortable waiting for final information.)

Here’s what Apple says publicly:

Inter-App Audio
Now your apps can make beautiful music together. With Inter-App Audio, apps can register their audio streams to share with other apps. For example, a series of apps could publish audio streams of instrument tracks while another uses the combination of these streams to compose a song. Inter-App Audio also provides for MIDI control of audio rendering, remotely launching other registered Inter-App Audio apps and more. [while on the Developer site, that link is not behind the registration login or marked confidential, so feel free to have a look at some other features]

Note that there are some nifty tricks in there: MIDI control of audio rendering is new, and not something we’ve yet seen in Audiobus and JACK. And while remote launching is something you can do with Audiobus, for instance, the inclusion of these features as official APIs may mean that iOS 7 apps play well with Audiobus and JACK even without official support. We’ll know more closer to release.

Remember that Apple themselves have implemented Audiobus compatibility in GarageBand. That suggests we should be able to combine the benefits of these tools. And yet again, iOS has under-the-hood support for features audio users love – as other platforms struggle to keep up. (The notable exception remains Linux – but it seems increasingly, the best choices for music production are OS X, Windows, Linux, and iOS.)

Supported devices:

iOS 7 beta supports iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPod touch (5th generation). Support for iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, and iPad mini is coming later this summer.

Note that not all of those devices will support all of iOS 7’s features, but so far, it appears they will have common audio functionality.

And a new iPod touch seems a good choice for a developer wanting a handheld to bang about with the new beta on, rather than their main phone. (Cough.)