I thought it would be worthwhile posting this comment out so that it would get a bit of a wider audience. I think that this comment by Tempo Rubato on what the iPhone music killer app might be:

Let me insprire the discussion with some provocative thoughts:

I think THE music making killer app has not been arrived yet (including my own work 😉

That’s why imho:

First, there is a category of apps directly simulating real apps like Pianos without introducing new ideas. But anyone who ever played a real piano with 10 fingers won’t feel the iPhone pianos any close to the real experience. The only app from that category which might come close to reality is Ocarina, because the original Ocarina is very simple too. But again that’s a problem: Too simple.

Secondly there is a category like the x0x drumboxes with 1 or two synths included. They also try to imitate the originals and in fact they partly come quite close: But again, they allow only for a very specific music style that is bound to this machines, that’s good, but too little flexibility imho.

BeatMaker steps a little bit further, but you do not edit notes here, you just overlay samples. Fine, but again too restricted for a killer music app.

Then we have the generative music apps including some interface ideas. That might be a category of apps to be extended where there might be very new and specific iPhone/Pod approaches coming up over time. It is a very specific way of music making though.

Then there is the very nice Jasuto, but more the experimental thing competing with apps like max/msp etc.

So, is this all? I strongly believe, that there will be killer music apps coming in the future. However, to be honest, I do not know how it will look like. Something like Logic or Cubase? Or something really new? It all links to the places and situation where you would use iPhone/pod for music creation: On stage, in the woods, in an airplane, in school, in the bathroom??? WHAT do you want really? I am really curious to hear feedback.

And at the end: Somebody must found these apps. With prices of 1 to a few bucks, it is impossible to make this on a professional level, except you are building toy like apps for the non-musicians mass market like all the star and guitar things. There are rumors that Apple wants to launch a “high end” store. If you want rich apps like Logic etc users must found them. I had somebody complaining with 2 stars about that NLog has no high pass filter yet. He is right, that a high pass filter should be in a synth. But to be honest: People expect to have iPhone apps for two bucks with a feature set of PC/MACs apps with prices about 50-500 bucks.

Don’t get me wrong: For me it’s fun developing apps, not money making and I appreciate inspirations by user feedbacks, and for sure, there is an NLog update in the queue for next weeks 😉

Don’t wanted to offend anybody, but hoping to hear some interesting feedback and thoughts.

For me this really says that something like Bhajis Loops, or Griff are what would probably constitute the ‘killer app’ for me, and I think that Mixtikl will go along way in the right direction too.

What do you think?

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  1. Well, here is what I posted in the original comments thread…

    In response to temporubato…

    Personally, I want iPhone software that does not try to be as complex as what I have on my Mac. I want sketchpads and fun to play instruments. We have several fun to play instruments, including Bebot, Nlog and others. We have good percussion sequencers in iDrum and Beatmaker, for example.

    What I want most now is a multitrack midi sequencer that can record melodic lines (not just drums) as midi in real time and then easily send those midi files to my Mac. Ellatron sounds like it is planning something like this.

    Beatmaker does midi well-enough, but it does not do pitched instruments yet, so writing melodies with it requires changing the pitches of samples in the sequencer, not in real time.

    By the way, interface-wise, I am feeling more and more that the piano-key paradigm is not really the most playable. I really like the Bebot setup and I would love to see something along the lines of those hexagonal keyboard layouts (which I have forgotten the name of.)

  2. Perhaps a little harsh on Beatmaker, given that you can edit pitch these days. I think it is probably the closest we have to a complete solution at the moment. For sure, a (heavily reworked) port of Griff would tick just about every box going as a composition tool. Beatmaker has a significant edge as a live tool.

    As to the features vs price argument, I think I want a full app at a fair price – I’m happier to pay a bit more for a more complete app. Maybe that’s where OS3 will come in? Like the way you could buy add-on effects and instruments for Griff. Having said all that, I think it is unfair to give an app a low rating due to it missing a few features – that’s where I see 3 or 4 star ratings being useful.

    I’d argue that Bebot is a killer-app though. It does everything it should, and does it brilliantly and everyone should buy it. It is a true pro-level piece of kit if you know how to use it and it is a great laugh if you just want to play.

    Looking forward to the next version of NLog, my fave “trad” synth.

  3. For my money, with all due respect to our wonderful Mixtikl, there is no one killer app. 🙂

    Rather, what will make it all happen is when Apple enable all of our lovely tools to work as a killer suite.

    Pretty much all this requires is for Apple to allow file sharing between applications on the iPhone, and between the iPhone and the desktop. That will allow the tool user to mix-and-match applications together to suit their own personal needs.

    Apps can then specialise, and powerful best of breeds emerge rather than small island applets.

    2 cents! 🙂

    As it happens of course, Mixtikl includes lots of integrated components, as we’ve always tried to make it as self-contained as possible (but with hooks to share data with other apps): MIDI, Generative, FX, Loops, Mixing etc.

    I’ve learned over many years that the only tools which really get adopted, and loved by a fan-base, are those that fit-in as easily as possible to a user’s existing way of working, which always includes other tools…


  4. However, Beatmaker can now pitch his samples (from version 1.3.2)…
    So, it’s actually a true sequencer, with midi and wav export…why not to consider it as a real killer app?

  5. Woah- what a hard comment to follow!! I’ve been chewin’ on Rolf’s statement all day! Basically and personally, I don’t think there will ever be a ‘killer iPhone music app’. A swarm of bees does more damage than one bee? Does that make sense?? Okay- nope, let me explain (sort of)…..

    My feeling is that if only Apple would allow apps to easily output midi or aac files, which could be made with the existing apps. If every app could contain a metronome that would click away- if you wanted it to- record a bit of this or that, export then import into an arranger of somesort- like Looptastic, but more sophisticated (like Ableton), but again without making the app bloated or unintuitive (Like Logic- which I love, but took months to master)(. An app like this could then spit out a ‘rough mix’ that could be played in the background (ala Bebot, which allows aac files to play in the background)- Bebot I rarely rave about, but is up there with Jusato, NLog etc), then you could re-overdub, introduce that back again etc etc. Do you see where I’m going?

    I don’t like Beatmaker btw. It’s too much like an MPC2000. I also cant get it to only hold a note for a specified duration. I want something more linear. Jasuto has a better idea in that dept. Having several little Jasuto cells all making different parts of the mix is where I want to be. More ‘fluid’, more ‘organic’ :¬)

    Rolf- we know you can do it! ;¬)

  6. This is great stuff. Some really interesting views here.

    I think I can understand a lot of the different views, but I’d like to think that there was a killer app coming. I guess I’m still waiting for that Bhajis Loops type app.

    Having said that, I do like Pete’s idea of being able to move audio in and out of apps on the device, that would make lots of apps much more useful.

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