Now that 4Pockets have released their new multitrack recorder MeTeoR I got to ask them a few questions about it and about their views on mobile music too.
PS: When did you first decide to port MeTEoR to iOS?
4P: Once we started porting our software to iOS devices it was pretty obvious that the one piece of software we wanted to port above all else was Meteor. The iPad is really the ultimate platform for this kind of application, but we needed to get a few other applications under our belt before we started on Meteor. This is a big application both in terms of size and complexity, and the experience gained porting Aurora, StompBox and Pocket RTA have proved invaluable.
PS: What were the main challenges to bringing the app over to iOS?
4P: The nice thing about porting Meteor to iOS is that we pretty much knew the problems in advance. The obvious problems of synchronization and latency had already been tackled during the development of StompBox. We were also able to lift some of the effects processing directly from this application which is a big benefit. The main issues were related to speed, as the iPad is still nowhere near as powerful as a PC and peoples expectations are so high. It is difficult enough to deliver 12 tracks of audio, but to deliver effects processing on top of that is really pushing the device to its limits. Meteor really benefits from the increased speed of the iPad 2, but we really didn’t want iPad 1 users to miss out. We came up with a way of freezing insert effects so that these effects use little or no CPU. You can use live real-time effects, but the freeze facility allows you to use more effects than would otherwise be possible.
PS: Is the app the same as on windows mobile or are there any differences?
4P: The bigger screen and multi-touch interface of the iPad makes the program much easier to use. Editing controller data on the Pocket PC was extremely tedious on such a small screen. The iPad version has expandable controller lanes so you actually edit in-place rather than in a separate window. Global send and master effects are now stereo rather than mono and have been completely rewritten for improved audio quality. The sample editor is also a joy to use on this size of screen, with full import /export facilities both from other applications and from your iPad library. We have even introduced a method of copying multi-track data between applications, so you will be able to paste a complete song from Aurora directly into Meteor, keeping each audio track, tempo and mixing data intact.
PS: The app is going to be iPad only. Can you see it ever coming to the iPhone or touch?
4P: If Meteor is well received then I can see us porting the program to the iPhone. Technically speaking the iPhone 4 is just as powerful as the iPad, just lacking the screen space, so it will all depend on how easy it is to adapt the interface to a smaller display.
PS: Will you update the app for windows mobile?
4P: No, development on the Windows Mobile version has ceased for the foreseeable future. The future of Windows Mobile lies with Microsoft’s re-incarnation Windows Phone 7, which unfortunately relies on development in Silverlight or .NET, so there is no easy upgrade path for existing programs.
PS: Are you looking at any other platforms like android?
4P: We have no plans to port Meteor to Android at this point in time, but this might change once Android Tablets become commonplace and there is some sort of standardisation in terms of screen size and video hardware. It is still early days for Android tablets, and right now the biggest problem facing Google is fragmentation due to manufacturers having a free license in terms of hardware. We had this problem with Windows Mobile, which I’m sure was a contributing factor in its demise.
PS: What are views generally on mobile music and how it has developed over the last few years?
4P: This is an exciting time for portable device owners interested in music creation. Apple especially has seen the potential in portable music creation by adding CoreMIDI support to iOS. This opens the door for many new and exciting applications which would not be possible without a touch screen. We are now seeing serious interest in the iOS devices by some of the big software and hardware manufacturers such as Steinberg, Korg, Peavey, IK Multimedia etc.
PS: What are your plans for the app going forward?
4P: Meteor includes an online shop for in-app purchases, so we hope to bring lots of new effects over time. I would also like to see tighter integration between applications, so maybe work with other software developers to allow their software direct access to Meteors mult-track import and exports.
We don’t want to limit the application to simply music creation, as many Journalists and News Reporters used the Pocket PC version for voiceovers etc. We have included the ability to import a video as a guide track, and export to compressed file formats so I’d like to see embedded email support in the first update.
So it looks like there’s more good stuff to come to this app, and possibilities for other developers too.
MeTeoR is priced at $19.99