Welcome to 2016! I haven’t posted for a few days and I’ve been spending that time thinking back over 2015 and also wondering where we’ll go (the mobile music community that is) in 2016. I’ve also been reading with some interest the thoughts of other commentators in the field. Tim, from Discchord and John from the Music Apps blog. All good stuff and well worth reading if you haven’t already.
Also, there’s Jakob’s top 10 apps from 2015 (video below), which make for interesting watching.
If you remember from just before Christmas (I know it was a long time ago), but I posted a couple of pieces on my 24 devices and my favourite posts from 2015, but what I didn’t do was post a list of favourite apps of 2015, and there’s a reason for that. What’s the reason? I’ll tell you. The simple reason is that I firmly believe that mobile music isn’t just about apps, and certainly it isn’t about iOS alone.
So what do I think will be important in 2016? Well, here are my predictions (for want of a better word):
- Ableton’s Link technology will gain ground and almost certainly become the defacto standard for getting apps to communicate between mobile devices and the desktop. What will be really interesting to see will be if other desktop makers bring Link into their DAWs. Possibly even more important will be if hardware devices bake Link into their own firmware or OSs. That would be a big signal that Ableton have cornered the market in linking devices and software.
- 3D touch will get bigger. So far I’ve been disappointed with the take up of 3D touch by app makers. For two reasons, the first is that I don’t think that enough app makers have seen the possibilities of 3D touch, secondly, and much more personally, is that I haven’t had the ability to use it as I don’t have a capable device.
- We will see more experimental hardware and that can only be a good thing. What do I mean by that? I mean devices like the Mute Synth II, and the Olegtron 4060, which could quite easily have become abandonware, but instead is moving forward with the new module they’ve talked about recently. Apps can take you so far, and then you need to get your hands dirty, and these kinds of devices (and there are plenty more besides the two I’ve mentioned) will let you go further.
- Crowdfunded devices will continue to show up and allow start ups to get their ideas into the real world. We’ve seen some great devices come up in 2015. Devices like the Artiphon Instrument 1, and Tangible’s Arpeggio too. There are others of course, but both of these share a very interesting and very relevant feature, relevant to something I mentioned in point 1 above. Both of these will have companion apps to expand their functionality. More of that in a moment.
- Crowdfunding start ups will move from product and reward crowdfunding to equity. This has already happened with a couple of companies, Patchblocks being the most notable. But also Chirp.IO, who started with their app, Chirp, and are now doing some really interesting things (more of that another day), but to finish on Chirp, I’m very glad to say that Patrick, their founder is an awesome chap and a friend of mine and PalmSounds. I’d like to see more companies enter the equity space as I think it’s both a very useful way of supporting companies like this and gives users an opportunity to put down hard cash and be a part of the journey.
- Going back to point 4, I think that we’re going to see more and more hardware and software (apps or otherwise) connectivity. I don’t just mean patch editors and the link (there’s nothing wrong with those at all though), but apps or software that expands the capabilities of hardware itself and vice-versa, and not just hardware to desktop, but to mobile and even to wearables!
- The continued rise of modular. In 2015 we saw some truly ground breaking modular apps arrive on iOS, Audulus 3, zMors Modular, and AnalogKit. I hope to see these all continue to develop and grow in 2016, but I think we’ll see more, and taking some of the previous points on I’d like to see some of the modular hardware makers start to bridge the gap between their formats and mobile. I also think that there’s a big gap for a mobile modular device a bit like the TinySizer, but smaller. I wonder if anyone will enter that space?
- Mobile music will continue to split itself into two distinct camps. What do I mean by that? I mean that for the last few years we’ve seen two movements emerge. One typified by point 7, the complex modular environments which are increasingly about developing your own instruments and processes for creating sound and music, and a second around making music more accessible to non-musicians. This second camp is exemplified by apps like Auxy, especially their latest iPhone app. Whilst I’m a keen watcher of both camps my own practice is quite firmly in the second with my SoundLab project (see the tag SLPS for more). I think that this is such an important area, it’s critical to encourage more people to discover their creativity.
- Finally, and probably far more out there, I’d like to think that we can see mobile music moving from the device to the wearable and to the IoT device as well. I know that this is less likely, even though we’ve seen a few apps move to the Apple Watch, like Intermorphic’s Wotja, and also djay, Secret Base Design, and also Apogee’s MetaRecorder. It hasn’t caught on in a big way as yet, but I think it should. It is after all, mobile, about as mobile as it gets. As for IoT, this is understandably more difficult, and obviously, far more esoteric too, but I can dream right?
So, there are my thoughts on 2016 for what it’s worth. I wonder if they’ll be proved right or wrong. Probably somewhere in between if the truth be known, and, for that matter, how important is it to be either right or wrong?
As ever, I’m very interested to know what you think, so, over to you.