Everything you might have missed in Apple’s latest announcements

There’s a giant expensive cheese grater Mac and display and new versions of all Apple’s platforms. But what’s going on with iTunes? iPadOS? And what else might matter to musicians and visual artists? Here’s a round-up.

macOS Catalina

iTunes is getting split into Music, Podcasts, and TV. This you probably heard – Apple is breaking up iTunes and releasing fresh new Mac apps with more focus. That’s caused some people to panic – but don’t panic yet. Apart from the likelihood that you’ll be able to continue using iTunes for now, the new Music app may give you reason to switch – without losing existing functionality or libraries.

iTunes download sales aren’t going away. Apple made a big change when it went from the iTunes Music Store – which offered paid downloads – to the ability to stream most of its catalog in Apple Music, for a subscription fee. But that announcement was made in June 2015. Apple confirms you’ll still be able to buy downloads and access purchases in the new Music app. The music industry is still torn between the download and streaming models, but this week’s announcements don’t really change much as far as Apple.

Apple Music may turn out to be more iTunes than iTunes.

Music Store is “a click away.” Here’s the thing: far from being bad news for download sales, if the Music app is cleaner and more pleasurable to use than iTunes, it could actually improve visibility of the Music Store and give a little boost to sales. You still see streaming options by default, and Apple is promoting their own recommendations. But that’s the trend with Spotify, too – it’s not necessarily good for music producers and independent music, but it’s also not news.

In fact, the real news is, Apple might be more interested in growing music revenue, not less. Here’s the thing to remember – Apple is an iPhone business ($31 billion in the second quarter of this year), but it’s also a services business. Services are what is growing, and services are what set records in the quarter Apple just reported. In fact, Services outpaced the Mac and iPad businesses in that same quarter – combined.

$11.45 billion: Services
$5.51 billion: Mac
$4.87 billion: iPad

Apple releases Q2 2019 earnings, announces revenue of $58 billion [9to5mac]

Killing downloads makes no sense for Apple. If anything, it makes sense for them to find ways to grow music purchases. Basically, Apple cares about music revenue just as musicians care about it – even if Apple’s goal is to get a bite of that, uh, fruit.

Music appears to do what iTunes did. All the major playlist, library management, and sync and conversion features of iTunes appear to be coming to the new Music app, too. It reportedly will even burn CDs, a feature dating back to the early iTunes “Rip, Mix, Burn” days. Apple also says you’ll see updated Library pages and easier typing to find what you want, plus a refreshed player. (9to5mac called it weeks ago.)

Ars Technica got some clarification of this. The main thing is, you can import your existing library without losing anything. And you’ll sync in the file system (which makes more sense, frankly). Apple Music may turn out to be more iTunes than iTunes.

Answers to some of your iTunes questions: Old libraries, Windows, and more

Devices are now in the Finder, not iTunes. Sync, backup, update, restore in Finder, plus get cloud sync options – rather than digging around iTunes.

Music may even work with your DJ software. Many DJs currently manage libraries in iTunes, then sync with desktop software like Rekordbox, TRAKTOR, and Serato. We don’t have a specific answer on how this will work – specifically, if something like the current iTunes XML format for metadata will be available. But the fact that the new Music app syncs using Finder, in the file system, is encouraging. Watch this space for more information.

It’s not clear what happens to iTunes on Windows going forward. If you think iTunes on the Mac is due for a refresh, you should see the clunky Windows port. Since Apple is making “Apple Music” part of macOS, and building as it always does with native tools, it’s unclear what Windows users will get going forward. Given the new sync stuff is all tied to the file system, this gets even murkier.

In the same Ars piece, Apple confirmed they’re keeping iTunes for Windows for now. But that goes without saying – otherwise Apple would break their music product for a huge number of their users – and still doesn’t answer the future situation.

Sidecar looks very cool – for everything from sketching and drawing to a new gestural input method and shortcuts.

Apple’s Sidecar will make it easier to use your iPad with your Mac. It’s what Duet Display already does – and that app was made by ex-Apple engineers – but Apple is promising native integration of the iPad as a second display, plus support for Apple Pencil. I’ll keep using Duet on my Windows machie, but I’m betting the Apple-native integration will dominate on the Mac. Sidecar also does more than Duet ever did – with additional gestures, inserting sketches into apps, modifiers for pro apps, and native developer support.

(So far, of pro apps, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Illustrator are listed – though not Logic, in case you think of a way of sketching into your music arrangements.)

Zoom a second display. Independent second monitor zoom should come in very handy in multi-monitor editing of both video and music.

Uh, this might break some drivers. I’ll quote Apple’s documentation here: “Previously many hardware peripherals and sophisticated features needed to run their code directly within macOS using kernel extensions, or kexts. Now these programs run separately from the operating system, just like any other app, so they can’t affect macOS if something goes wrong.” Obviously, we’ll need to check in on compatibility of audio drivers and copy protection for audio software.

Sophisticated voice control. Apple is significantly developing everyone’s “Tea, Earl Gray, Hot” Star Trek voice command fantasies with new, more accurate, more powerful, more integrated lower-latency voice control. There’s no sign yet to how this might get used in pro audio or visual apps, but you can bet someone is thinking about it.

QuickTime gets an update. It’s probably been since the days of the long-lamented QuickTime Pro 7 that we got QuickTime application features to write how about. But there are some compelling new features – turn a folder of images into a motion sequence in any format (yes!), open a more powerful Movie Inspector, and show accurate Timecode, plus export transparency in ProRes 4444.

Snapshots with restore. I’ve long complained that macOS lacks the snapshot features of Windows – which let you easily roll back your system to a state before you, like, screwed something up. There’s now “Restore from snapshot.” Apple only mentions third-party software, but it seems recent file system changes will mean this should also work with ill-behaved OS updates from Apple, too. (Yes, sometimes even Apple tech can go wrong.)

https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/features/

iOS and now iPadOS

Apple not only announced major updates to iOS in iOS 13, but also a new more pro-focused iPadOS.

Expect more sharing between macOS and iOS/iPadOS development AudioUnit is listed as a shared framework allowing developers to target Mac and iOS with a single SDK. You can also expect AV frameworks like Core Audio, and other media and 3D tools. Of course, that was always the vision Apple had with its mobile OS – and even can trace some lineage back to early work done pre-Apple at NeXT. That said, while this SDK is appealing, many developers will continue to look elsewhere so they’re not restricted to Apple platforms, depending on their use case.

You’ll need specific devices to support the new OS. iOS 13 requires iPhone SE / 6s or better, or 7th-gen iPod touch. iPadOS is even more limited – the iPad Pro, iPad Air 3rd gen or Air 2 or better, iPad mini 4 or better, and 5th-gen or better iPad.

iPadOS: external storage. Finally, you can plug USB storage into your iPad and navigate the external file system – a huge boon to managing photos, video, audio recordings, and even USB sticks for DJ sets. Yes, of course, Android and all desktop OSes do this already, but it’s definitely welcome on the iPad.

iPadOS: better file management. The Files app has been updated with columns, and you can share whole folders via iCloud Drive. (Finally and … finally.)

iPadOS: ‘desktop’-style browser. Apple says you get something more like the desktop Safari on your iPad – so you can use more sites and you get a download manager.

iPadOS: mouse support. This is an accessibility feature, but the combination of touch and mouse will be useful to everyone – like so many accessibility features. I expect it’ll also make working with tools like Cubasis way more fun. Basically, your external mouse or trackpad gets to behave like a very accurate finger. It’s not a desktop mouse so much as it is a way to access touch via the mouse:

Spotted other interesting details in recent Apple news? Let us know.

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The future of inter-app sound on iOS: a chat with Audiobus’ creator

Many iOS music makers want to route audio between apps – just as you would in a studio. But news came this week that Apple would drop support for its own IAA (Inter App Audio), used by apps like KORG Gadget, Animoog, and Reason Compact. What will that mean? I spoke with Audiobus’ creator to find out.

Michael Tyson created popular music apps Audiobus and Loopy. And he’s made frameworks for other developers, too, not only supporting countless developers working with Audiobus, but also creating the framework The Amazing Audio Engine, now part of Audiokit. So he’s familiar with both what users and developers want here.

Audiobus is key. At first, iOS music apps were each an island. Audiobus changed all that, by suggesting users might want to combine apps the way they do on an stompbox pedalboard or wiring gear together in a studio. Take an interesting synth, add a delay that sounds nice with it, patch that into a recording app – you get the idea. That expectation was also familiar from plug-in formats on desktop and inter-app tools like the open source JACK and Soundflower. And Tyson’s team developed this before Apple followed with their own IAA or the plug-in format AUv3.

So now, having pushed their own format, Apple is abandoning it. iOS and the new iPadOS will deprecate IAA, according to the iOS 13 beta release notes.

This won’t mean you lose access to your IAA apps right away. “Deprecated” in Apple speak generally means that something remains available in this OS release but will disappear in some major release that follows. Apple often deprecates tech quickly – as in one major release later (iOS 14?) – but that’s anyone’s guess, and can take longer.

That is still a worry for many users, as many iOS developers do abandon apps without updates. It’s tough enough to make money on an initial release, tougher still to squeeze any money out of upgrades – and iOS developers are often as small as one-person operations. Sometimes they just go get another job. That may mean for backwards compatibility it even makes sense to hold on to one old iPad and keep it from updating – not only because of this development, but to retain consistent support for a selection of instruments and effects.

But if you’re worried about Audiobus dying in iOS 13 – don’t. Michael explains to CDM what’s going on.

Audiobus 3.

Can you comment on the deprecation of Audiobus and IAA for iOS? It’s safe to say this should mean compatibility at least for the forseeable future, but not much future in OS updates after that, given Apple’s past record?

To be specific, this is a depreciation of IAA rather than Audiobus – Audiobus is a combination of a host app, and a communication technology built into supporting third party apps. The latter is presently based on IAA, but doesn’t have to be.

As for the IAA deprecation, I consider this a very positive move by Apple. The technology that replaces it, Audio Unit v3, is a big step forward in terms of usability and robustness, and focusing their own attention and that of the developer community on AUv3 is a good thing. I doubt IAA is going anywhere any time soon though; deprecations can last many years.

Does this mean the Audiobus app will reach its end of life? Do you have plans for further development in other areas?

Not at all. I’ve got lots of plans for Audiobus, to increase its value as an audio unit host, and possibly to fill the gap left by IAA if it’s ever switched off.

Do we lose anything by shifting to AUv3 versus IAA? (I have to admit I have a slightly tough time wrapping my head round this myself, in that there’s a workflow paradigm shift here, so it’s not so fair to compare the enabling technologies alone…)

AUv3 is actually quite impressive lately, and continues to grow. As you say, they’re pretty different workflows, so it can be tricky to compare. The shortcomings we see I largely put down to developers not fully exploiting the opportunities of the platform – myself included! This will only improve going forward, I suspect.

There is one pretty big downside, which is that implementing AUv3 support in an app is a lot harder than implementing IAA, which itself is harder than implementing Audiobus support. It’s the difference between just a few lines of code, and a whole restructure of an app. Minutes vs days or weeks; worse if there’s file management involved. For apps that want to host audio units (on the receiving end), it’s a lot more work too, as they would need to implement all of the audio unit selection and routing themselves, rather than letting Audiobus do all the work and just receiving the audio at the end.

This is the reason there are still plenty of apps that only do Audiobus or IAA – my own apps Loopy and Samplebot included! If those apps that don’t have AUv3 yet don’t update in time and Apple ever pull the plug on IAA, those will just stop working. And it’s possible we’ll see less adoption of AUv3 for new apps.

But if things do go that way, I’m completely open to the possibility of stepping in to fill the gap left by IAA; there’s no reason Audiobus couldn’t continue to function as it does right now without IAA, as this is how it worked in the beginning. But we’ll wait and see what happens.

AUv3 plug-in format is supported by instruments and effects, like this RM-1 Wave Modulator from Numerical Audio.

Is there some way to re-imagine Audiobus using AUv3?

Audiobus actually already has great AUv3 support built in, and lots of users are already on exclusively AUv3 setups. I’m continuing to add stuff to make the workflow even better, like MIDI learn and MIDI sync – and 2-up split screen coming soon.

Have you heard reaction from other developers?

Not as yet, no.

So you see a justification to Apple going this direction?

Sure, I’d say it’s so we can all focus on the new hotness that is AUv3. IAA was never enormously stable, and felt like a bridging technology until something like AUv3 came along. The resources of the audio team at Apple are just better put towards working on AUv3.

Thanks, Michael. We’ll keep an eye on this one, and if there’s anything CDM can do to pass on useful information to developers interested in adding AUv3 support, I imagine we can do that, too.

https://audiob.us/

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Turn your iPad or iPhone into a scriptable MIDI tool with Mozaic

Its creator describes it as a “workshop in a plug-in.” Mozaic lets you turn your iOS device into a MIDI filter/controller that does whatever you want – a toolkit for making your own MIDI gadgets.

The beauty of this, of course, is that you can have whatever tools you want without having to wait for someone else to make them for you. Developer Bram Bos has been an innovator in music software for years – he created one of the first drum machines, among some ground-breaking (and sometimes weird) plug-ins, and now is one of the more accomplished iOS developers. So you can vouch for the quality of this one. It might move my iPad Pro back into must-have territory.

Bram writes to CDM that he thought this kind of DIY plug-in could let you make what you need:

“I noticed there is a lot of demand for MIDI filters and plugins (such as Rozeta) in the mobile music world,” he says,”especially with the rising popularity of DAW-less, modular plugin-based jamming and music making. Much of this demand is highly specific and difficult to satisfy with general purpose apps. So I decided to make it easier for people to create such plugins themselves.”

You get ready-to-use LFOs, graphic interface layouts, musical scales, random generators, and “a very easy-to-learn, easy-to-read script language.” And yeah, don’t be afraid, first-time programmers, Bram says: “I’ve designed the language from the ground up to be as accessible and readable as possible.”

To get you started, you’ll find example scripts and modular-style filters, and a big preset collection – with more coming, in response to your requests, Bram tells us. There’s a programming manual, meant both to get beginners going in as friendly a way as possible, and to give more advanced scripters and in-depth guide. And you get plenty of real-world examples.

There are some things you can do with your iOS gadget that you can’t do with most MIDI gadgets, too – like map your tilt sensors to MIDI.

This is an AUv3-compatible plug-in so you can use it in hosts like AUM, ApeMatrix, Cubasis, Nanostudio 2, Audiobus 3, and the like.

Full description/specs:

Mozaic runs inside your favorite AU MIDI host, and gives you practical building blocks such as LFOs, pre-fab GUI layouts, musical scales, AUv3 support (with AU Parameters, transport events, tempo syncing, etc.), random generators and a super-simple yet powerful script language. Mozaic even offers quick access to your device’s Tilt Sensors for expressive interaction concepts!

The Mozaic Script language is designed from the ground up to be the easiest and most flexible MIDI language on iOS. A language by creatives, for creatives. You’ll only need to write a few lines of script to achieve impressive things – or to create that uber-specific thing that was missing from your MIDI setup.

Check out the Programming Manual on Ruismaker.com to learn about the script language and to get inspiration for awesome scripts of your own.

Mozaic comes with a sizable collection of tutorials and pre-made scripts which you can use out of the box, or which can be a starting point for your own plugin adventures.

Features in a nutshell:

– Easy to learn Mozaic Script language: easy to learn, easy to read
– Sample-accurate-everything: the tightest MIDI timing possible
– Built-in script editor with code-completion, syntax hints, etc.
– 5 immediately usable GUI layouts, with knobs, sliders, pads, etc.
– In-depth, helpful programming manual available on Ruismaker.com
– Easy access to LFOs, scales, MIDI I/O, AU parameters, timers
– AUv3; so you’ll get multi-instance, state-saving, tempo sync and resource efficiency out of the box

Mozaic opens up the world of creative MIDI plugins to anyone willing to put in a few hours and a hot beverage or two.

Practical notes:
– Mozaic requires a plugin host with support for AUv3 MIDI plugins (AUM, ApeMatrix, Cubasis, Auria, Audiobus 3, etc.)
– The standalone mode of Mozaic lets you edit, test and export projects, but for MIDI connections you need to run it inside an AUv3 MIDI host
– MIDI is not sound; Mozaic on its own does not make noise… so bring your own synths, drum machines and other instruments!
– AUv3 MIDI requires iOS11 or higher

With some other MIDI controllers looking long in the tooth, and Liine’s Lemur also getting up in years, I wonder if this might not be the foundation for a universal controller/utility for music. So, yeah, I’d love to see some more touch-savvy widgets, OSC, and even Android support if this catches on. Now go forth, readers, and help it catch on!

Mozaic on the iTunes App Store

http://ruismaker.com/

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Sugar Bytes releases Factory synthesizer for iPad (Free + in-app purchases)

Sugar Bytes Factory iPad

Sugar Bytes has announced that its Factory synthesizer instrument is now available for iPad. Made for complex and organic sounds, Factory sports a big modulation matrix with all kinds of features to create a wildlife of sounds. A vast array of DSP is ready to play: Analog style oscillators and filters, but also different flavors […]

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AUM is perfect iOS music hub, now with Ableton Link and MIDI updates

Speaking of tools to glue together your gear and serve as the heartbeat of your studio – AUM. This iOS super-tool can serve as an essential hub for combining apps and hardware in any combination – and now it’s even more savvy with Ableton Link and MIDI.

You’d be forgiven for thinking AUM was just some sort of fancy mixer for the iPad. But it’s more like a studio for combining software with software, software with hardware, and hardware with hardware. So it might be a way to combine stuff that’s on your iOS device, or a convenient tool for mobile recording, or a way to let your iPad sit in a studio of other gear and make them play together, or a combination of all those things.

It does this by letting you do whatever you like with inputs and outputs, iOS plug-ins (Audio Unit extensions), audio between apps (Audiobus and Inter-App Audio), and multichannel audio and MIDI interfaces. It’s a host, a virtual patch bay (for both MIDI and audio), and a recording/playback device. And it’s a tool to center other tools. There’s also Ableton Link and MIDI clock support.

It’s worth bringing up AUM right now, because a minor point update – 1.3 – brings some major new features that really make this invaluable.

  • Ableton Link 3 support means you can start/stop transport.
  • You get “MIDI strips” for hosting useful MIDI-only Audio unit extensions.
  • You can import channels between sessions, and duplicate channel strips.
  • And you get tons of new MIDI mappings: program changes, tap tempo, loading presets, and even loading whole sessions can now be done via MIDI. I imagine that could see this used in some pretty major stage shows.

Jakob Haq has shown some useful ways of approaching the app, including MIDI mapping control:

Lots more tutorials and resources on the official site:

http://kymatica.com/apps/aum

The full feature list:

High quality audio up to 32-bit 96kHz
Clean and intuitive user interface with crisp vector graphics
Extremely compact and optimized code, very small app size
Unlimited* number of channels
Unlimited* number of effect slots
Inserts and sends are configurable pre/post-fader
Internal busses for mixing or effect sends
Supports multi-channel audio interfaces
Supports Audio Unit extensions, Inter-App Audio and Audiobus
Audiobus state saving
Highly accurate transport clock
Metronome with selectable output and optional pre-roll
Sends host sync to Audio Unit plugins and IAA apps
Send MIDI clock to external hardware
Play in time with Ableton Link
FilePlayer with sync and looping, access to all AudioShare files
Records straight into AudioShare storage space
Record synchronized beat-perfect loops
Built-in nodes for stereo processing, filtering and dynamics
Latency compensation makes everything align at the outputs
Separate Inter-App Audio / Audiobus output ports
Built-in MIDI keyboard
Fully MIDI controllable
MIDI Matrix for routing MIDI anywhere

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Ampify announces updates for Launchpad for iOS

Launchpad Key Change

Launchpad for iOS has seen numerous updates and improvements over the past 12 months. The app has a range of new accessibility features and over 1000 new sounds. Ampify has made important steps towards making music more accessible. Launchpad now has voiceover control, variable font size and Switch Access support to help those with physical […]

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Propellerhead acquires Figure and Take music making apps

Propellerhead Figure Take

Propellerhead Software has announced the acquisition of Figure and Take music making apps from Allihoopa. Newly updated and immediately available for free on the App Store, the universally acclaimed Figure and Take apps join the Reason family of music creation tools. “These apps make great companions to Reason,” said Hanna Åstrand, Product Manager. “They give […]

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Accusonus releases Beatformer iOS App: All-In-One Beat Sculpting application for iPad

Acussonus Beatformer iOS

Accusonus has announced the immediate release of Beatformer iOS app, an all-in-one beat sculpting application for the modern iPad beat maker. Beatformer allows users to effortlessly shape their beats, without compromising their character and musicality. The plugin has four intuitive controls (Boom, Punch, Squash and Air) that offer powerful Digital Signal Processing in a delicate […]

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Synclavier brings its FM & Additive synthesis to iOS with Go! and Pocket! apps

Synclavier Go

Synclavier Digital has announced the release of Synclavier Go!, placing a re-creation of the seminal Synclavier II Digital Synthesizer’s sound engine into the hands of iPad owners. Additive FM Synthesis was never more fun. The intuitive touch-screen interface is a joy to use. It’s a snip to transform simple sine waves into grungy brass attacks, […]

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Bremmers Audio Design updates MultitrackStudio for iPad to v3.2

Bremmers multitrackstudio ipad

Bremmers Audio Design has released an update to its MultitrackStudio for iPad, an audio/MIDI multitrack recording app featuring high quality audio effects including a guitar amp simulator. Both audio and MIDI tracks can be edited. MIDI editing features include pianoroll, drum and score editors. The straightforward user-interface has been designed with tape-based recording in mind. […]

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