Apple appears to have accidentally leaked an upcoming version of Logic Pro that incorporates the signature feature of Ableton Live – nonlinear pattern launching.
While spotted on Reddit, the source of this leak at the famously secretive company appears to be … Apple itself. As I write this, the screenshot is still live on a public education site:
Credit where it’s due (“am I missing something” is right!):
If this is real – and not a mock-up that accidentally wound up on the page – it represents a landmark. That landmark might best be described as “what took you so long,” arguably, given that Apple Loops have been a feature of Logic Pro and GarageBand back to the reveal of GarageBand in January 2004. (Time flies!)
We can pretty easily analyze the screenshot. At the top, new icons appear to let you view a nonlinear Session View-style layout, the normal track arrangement, or both. (In this screen shot, the two are side-by-side.) You’ll also note Live-style quantization of clip launch.
As with other copies of Live’s signature Session View, the horizontal and vertical axes are flipped. So whereas Live shows you tracks the way channel strips appear on a hardware mixer, vertically, Apple opt for a view more like a software DAW. Tracks are laid out horizontally, so that they match up with the arrangement. These include visual elements seen on iOS.
You’ll also see X/Y-pad effects at the bottom, including a filter and repeater – aping something that was in Ableton Live way back at the start.
Maybe more interesting than this in Logic would be if it also made an appearance in MainStage, which seems still important enough to some of Apple’s live pro users that it warranted a mention in the recent Mac mini launch.
It’s a no-brainer – the UI we see here has been seen in GarageBand on iOS (effects and clip launching). That’s “Live Loops” (notice the use of the word “live,” ahem), from GarageBand 2.1 – thanks, Enkerli. I noticed this in 2016 when it was released, but I called it a bit wrong – I observed that the interface looks like Loopy, and then I went off on a tangent about expressive touch on iOS being important. (Spoiler: it wasn’t. ROLI hasn’t taken the world by storm, either. What did matter in the long run was widespread embrace of polyphonic expression in MIDI. Apple was an early partner in that, at least.)
Anyway, yes, you get the GarageBand for iOS loop interface as clearly inspired by Ableton Live, now back full circle on desktop in Logic. And Logic and GarageBand on macOS have shared a code base and functionality since launch – often with GarageBand serving as a testbed for later, more advanced Logic versions of features, rather than the other way around.
There are two potential downsides to Logic adding these UI elements. One is, you wind up with kind of a jumble of interface elements. Another is the question of how Logic’s engine will perform when used for real-time manipulation.
Ableton Live has the advantage of having been built from scratch around these expectations, both in how the software looks and how sound responds. And that has proven a sticking point to would-be competitors adding these functions to existing DAWs. So it may be that Logic opens up to some new what-if scenarios in composing and arranging, but doesn’t add up to a full Ableton Live replacement – time will tell.
I’m not sure how users will receive this. It could represent a blow to Ableton in the crucial education market – because it might allow education buyers to standardize on just purchasing Logic seats.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t assume anything until there’s official word from Apple. Given this absolutely represents some kind of screw-up (since it pre-empts announcement of whatever version of Logic this is), it’s possible the screenshot itself is not representative of something Apple will actually ship.
And I wouldn’t worry too much about Ableton – the company has proven time and again that users are loyal to its workflow and simplicity, whatever the competition. Those of us sometimes swapping between Logic and Live might meanwhile just find this a welcome convenience. It’ll definitely be worth testing.
I’d say the software development here is more expected than the leak – the leak is rare from Apple. The last time there was an audio/music leak out of Cupertino of this magnitude, it was this.