djay Pro adds real-time AI separation on Apple’s Bionic chip – and producers will want it too

AI was going to take the fun out of DJing – selecting and mixing for you. But the reason you’ll use it could be to make music more fluid. Algoriddim’s latest is a showpiece of Apple’s custom silicon – and a possible secret weapon for the rest of us.

The post djay Pro adds real-time AI separation on Apple’s Bionic chip – and producers will want it too appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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.)

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.

The post Everything you might have missed in Apple’s latest announcements appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Kommt das 16″ MacBook Pro wieder? Und braucht das jemand? Und was kommt noch von Apple?

Macbook 16 Zoll und neue i9Macbook 16 Zoll und neue i9

Apples Neuankündigungen stehen an! Bis zur WWDC brodelt auch für März bereits die Gerüchteküche und es gibt eine Ladung an Meldungen für neue Hardware, während zur WWDC eher Software und Bekanntgabe für OS-Features zu erwarten ist.

Insgesamt gibt es folgende Meldungen über relevante Neuerungen:

  1. Intel bringt neue Prozessoren i3-i9 mit Hyperthreading, also 16 virtuelle Kerne mit bis zu 4,9 GHz Takt
  2. MacBook 16″ mit 6k Retina-Schirm
  3. iPad Pro und iPad Mini 5 2019
  4. Mac Modular / Mac Pro
  5. mehr RAM für kleine Books (32 GB).

Kuos Thesen

Nach Aussagen von Ming-Chi Kuo, dem wahrscheinlich treffsichersten Apple-Analysten, werden alle diese Dinge kommen. Für die Musik-Gemeinde sind größere Books immer sinnvoll und vor allem hohe Single-Core Leistung. Denn Plug-ins profitieren davon noch immer am meisten. Apple nimmt nicht wahllos jeden neuen Prozessor, weshalb die neue Liste nicht unbedingt Grund für Zuversicht sein muss. Die großen Prozessoren sind für mobilere Rechner unwahrscheinlicher wegen ihres Strombedarfs.

Für iMac und Mac Pro sind sie jedoch ein möglicher Schritt, denn beide stehen noch aus. Insbesondere der Mac Pro wird schon lange erwartet und Apple hat sich damit für einige Nutzer bereits zu viel Zeit gelassen. Dazu empfiehlt sich jedoch, die Daten genauer zu studieren, für Apple gibt es für Pro-Serien durchaus interessante Angebote seit heute.

Apples Ruf schwindet

Nach dem großen T2-Audio-Gate muss Apple allerdings beweisen, dass sie für extrem hohe Preise diese auch wert sind. Diese bilden sich wegen der überteuerten SSD- und RAM-Zusatzkosten und lächerliche Grundausstattungen von SSDs mit gerade mal 256 GB, was den durchschnittlichen Preis um vierstellige Summen gesteigert hatte.

Neue iPads

Das neue iPad ohne Audioanschluss zu liefern, sorgte bei den Musikern meist nur für Kopfschütteln. Wo war da das Pro? Deshalb kann man hoffen, dass neue Serien der iPads für 10,5″ und 12,9″ zumindest wieder einen Audioanschluss haben, damit man live auch wieder ohne ein klobiges Dock für Extrakosten leben kann.

Apple ist auch allgemein in der Gunst der User stark gefallen, da sie die maximale Gewinnabschöpfung selbst in diese Details zu weit getrieben haben, hakelige Tastaturen verbauen und ähnliche Dinge.

16 „MacBook Pro

Die 13″-MacBooks bekommen nach Kuos Vorstellung 32 GB. Außerdem glaubt er an ein 16-16,5″ MacBook Pro, welches das seit 2012 nicht mehr angebotene große Format zurückbringen und mit einer hohen Auflösung von 6k Bildpunkten aufwarten könnte. Damit würde es doch glatt den iMac übertrumpfen. Auch ein eigenes Display sei in Arbeit. Ein 16″ MacBook Pro wäre für Musiker natürlich fein, schließlich kann man auf einem großen Display auch auf der dunklen Bühne viel erkennen.

Mac Pro Modular?

Zum Mac Pro wird noch nichts gesagt, ob und wann er kommt steht noch immer in den Sternen. Dennoch wird nach wie vor 2019 als Zieltermin genannt und Apple kann sich weitere Verschiebungen nach hinten kaum noch leisten, wollen sie in der Pro-Gemeinde noch irgendwie ernst genommen werden. Den „Tonnen“-Mac Pro zeigte Apple erstmals auf der WWDC – während die Auslieferung damals noch viele Monde dauerte. Hierzu konnte auch Kuo nichts Konkretes sagen.

Es wird spannend!

Plug-ins On Your iPad, iPhone – And on Mac App Store, Too?


While some Apple watchers fear the transformation of OS X into iOS, it would be more accurate to say that Apple has gradually been bringing its next-generation architectures to both platforms. And in the process, iOS is able to perform feats formerly only possible on the Mac.

What’s next: Audio Unit “extensions points.” And the upshot of this will be plug-ins on your iPad and iPhone (and perhaps someday Apple Watch), all using a new framework that will work on both OS X and iOS.

The feature was buried in a slide deck in the WWDC keynote and appeared shortly after in draft developer documentation in iOS 9.0. Now, keep in mind, that doesn’t mean it’ll ship in this form, or in iOS 9.0 at all – features have been known to slip. But it does provide an indication of where Apple is headed.

“Extension points” are a new way of providing third-party functionality inside an app. (Other examples include VPN functionality and add-ons for Safari and Spotlight.) These are most interesting in iOS for audio,though. Whereas combining audio tools has so far meant connecting apps via Audiobus or Inter App Audio, you’ll be able to install Audio Unit from the App Store and, for instance, add a delay effect to your favorite production app on the iPad.

Here’s the description from the iOS 9 documentation:

The Audio Unit extension point allows your app to provide musical instruments, audio effects, sound generators, and more for use within apps like GarageBand, Logic, and other Audio Unit host apps. The extension point also brings a full audio plug-in model to iOS and lets you sell Audio Units on the App Store.

Architecturally, this is no huge jump. Audio apps already make use of the Audio Unit API to talk to the audio stack in the OS (it’s actually how we implemented libpd). What was missing was a way to distribute Audio Units as add-ons for apps; this provides just that. It seems that’ll make sense for things like simple effects; more complex processing can still use inter-app audio features and dedicated apps — iOS 9 even makes that more convenient with split-screen multitasking.

Think more like 99-cent delay effects than something fancier, at least on iOS. Extensions will have a UI, but a very basic one. Apple hasn’t written audio-specific documentation yet, but they do caution extension developers in general to simplify: “An extension’s UI should be simple, restrained, and focused on facilitating a single task. To improve performance and the user’s experience, avoid including extraneous UI that doesn’t support your extension’s main task.”

Making a basic distortion add-on for other tasks should be nice, though.

So, for iOS, this is good news. But it also almost certainly reflects a change in direction from Apple on plug-ins on OS X – something we’ve long expected. Third-party developers had told me they thought Apple would push sandboxing for audio plug-ins on the desktop. And note that the Audio Unit extension point isn’t just for iOS; it’s for OS X, too. This could change the way plug-ins work on the desktop, though keep in mind that hosts from Steinberg, MOTU, Ableton, and others will likely continue to support some mixture of VST and existing AU formats (plus AAX and the like from Avid).

And if it allows App Store purchases on iOS, it seems desktop OS X App Store purchases of plug-ins can’t be far behind. I’m only speculating, but this seemed strategically inevitable the day GarageBand and Logic moved to the OS X App Store. Extension points would provide a technical facility to do so.

For developers, it means you can create plug-ins once and then sell them to desktop and mobile users at the same time.

What that means for users actually consuming those plug-ins: well, that can only be answered when developers have had some time to work with the new operating systems.

If you are a developer, you can read up on this in the iOS 9.0 release notes and App Extension Programming Guide.

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5 Tidbits of Good News from WWDC for Musicians and Visualists


Apple’s WWDC keynote this year is an mix of mostly consumer-focused, end-user features and the occasional nerdier developer-centric discussion, plus a healthy heaping of hyperbolae. (The App Store, compared to the invention of the telescope and the discovery of electricity – did I hear that right?) But, if you’re paying close attention, there are some tidbits of good news for people using Apple’s platforms for creative work – or making the tools those people use.

Before we talk about Apple Music, let’s look at the OS news.

1. Metal in OS X will open up new visual possibilities. Metal is mostly a tool for graphics, but it does two things: first, it radically simplifies coding (it even uses standard C++ for shaders), and second, it improves performance. That combination of ease and efficiency can make life easier for developers. Theoretically, someone could use these APIs to write audio processing routines, but it’s more likely to be used for graphics. I mention it here, as creative coders working with visuals might find this makes interesting visual performances and eye candy more fun.

Plus, if you use things like Adobe’s suite, it may run faster – and that’s good for video editors and the like.

2. OS X is getting incremental performance updates – and no news is good news. We don’t know much about this fall’s revision to OS X, so it’s mostly too soon to comment. But improved app launch and other incremental updates are hardly anything to complain about, yet. Also, each year around this time Mac watchers start making gloom and doom predictions about how Apple will replace OS X with iOS and destroy all your serious apps. It … doesn’t look like that’s happened here, for another year running. Sorry.

3. Multitasking on iOS will make music making loads of fun. If you like routing audio or MIDI between apps, you’ll love this. I really can’t wait to use effects and drum machines side by side, for instance – and the UI actually makes more sense than the one you get loading plug-ins into a DAW. Bravo.

4. iOS updates finally won’t be a chore. This had become a nightmare for app developers: iOS users failing to update because they couldn’t download the update. It’s not music-specific, but I know plenty of music developers who found it a huge issue. Leaner OS updates finally resolve that problem.

5. watchOS hardware is opening up. There are some intriguing changes in watchOS – mic input, audio playback (including to Bluetooth), and accelerometer and Taptic Engine data. Because Apple Watch is, by design, more restricted than the iPhone or iPad, I think it’s really more of an accessory to existing apps than it is a separate platform. But that said, these are the sorts of little changes that should at least allow some experimental watchOS apps for music.

Also, an open source version of Swift is rather interesting from a creative coding standpoint. I think it’ll become news if someone ports it to Windows – because then, you could imagine people learning creative coding for music, visuals, and design via Swift.

Also, it was nice to see music apps for deaf people – that isn’t hyperbola; that’s magic.

Photo courtesy Apple.

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From Bluetooth MIDI to Easier, Faster Graphics, New Goodies for Creative Apple Development

Let's ... have ... a party! Because there are new OSes from Apple! Sorry, we can't really illustrate things like an updated Core Audio just yet. Stay tuned. We look forward to the day when you're taking selfies at your bluetooth MIDI jams. Image courtesy Apple.

Let’s … have … a party! Because there are new OSes from Apple! Sorry, we can’t really illustrate things like an updated Core Audio just yet. Stay tuned. We look forward to the day when you’re taking selfies at your bluetooth MIDI jams. Image courtesy Apple.

Watching new operating systems is always a potent mix of “what new treats will we get?” and “what are they going to break?” Fortunately in this case, it seems Apple is mostly crossing items off users’ and developers’ wish lists on both iOS and OS X, though further details will come in coming developer sessions. Now, those are under NDA, but the wait for public information is unlikely to be long, now that Apple has announced a public beta of OS X Yosemite and an aggressive release schedule for both OS X and iOS 8.

We also know a lot now.

For developers. We know there are some fancy new toolkits (Metal, SceneKit) for graphics – some of which are likely to make creative 3D visual programming more accessible and higher-performance. That should translate to some interesting new creative audiovisual apps and woo at least some digital artists to Apple platforms. And Apple’s new Swift programming language takes the performance of Objective-C but brings it more modern features. There’s even an interactive Playground that offers live feedback and live coding. (TechCrunch has a good write-up.)

That’s already big news: for the first time, Apple’s own platform starts to look like a creative coding environment, one in which the prototype or artistic idea can also become production code.

For musicians and developers. Apple kept parts of the schedule under wraps until the end of the WWDC keynote. Much of this is to do with new APIs for notifications, data, cloud services, and the aforementioned visual goodies.

But Core Audio is, as rumored, getting an update, too. From the (public-facing, non-NDA) session description:

See what’s new in Core Audio for iOS and OS X. Be introduced to the powerful new APIs for managing audio buffers, files, and data formats. Learn how to incorporate views to facilitate switching between inter-app audio apps on iOS. Take an in depth look at how to tag Audio Units and utilize MIDI over Bluetooth LE.

So, improved inter-app audio is of course welcome, and we get a clue as to what changes are coming to the Core Audio plumbing on which our music-making apps rely on Apple OSes.

Bluetooth MIDI is also interesting to users. MIDI over Bluetooth is possible today, so it’s unclear what Apple is adding. But with more convenient support, we could see scenarios like:

1. Connecting a Bluetooth-based MIDI accessory (like a portable keyboard or drum pad) to an iPad or iPhone or Mac. On mobile devices, in particular, that makes far more sense than a cable – cables kill the mobility of the device, they often require extra adapter hardware, and they can take up ports needed for sound or power.

2. More easily pairing a mobile controller to a Mac. WiFi does this now, but with a greater power draw and some complexity in connection – and we’ll have to see how performance is doing in the new Apple implementations.

3. Wireless connections for music and sync between devices – mobile to mobile, between computer and iPad, iPad and iPad, iPhone and iPhone, and so on.

(and various other combinations, of course…) We saw lots of Bluetooth MIDI hacks at the MIDI Hack Day in Stockholm; it’ll be great to see more support for this format. And that means we’ll need to do more testing of latency and connection ease.

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Apple Adds Inter-App Audio, With Not-Before-Seen Features, to iOS 7

You may not love the new icons, but you'll probably love the new features. Courtesy Apple.

You may not love the new icons, but you’ll probably love the new features. Courtesy Apple.

It’s official: iOS 7 is adding inter-app audio functionality, for streaming sounds between different software. And whereas this appeared on a slide at last summer’s WWDC, this time, it’s really happening.

What does this mean for Audiobus and JACK? Well, Apple is promising some things those tools don’t do, just as those tools do things Apple’s described features may not. Since both JACK and Audiobus already make use of Core Audio, odds are you’ll just see all of this stuff get better and more powerful.

Unfortunately, developer documentation is Apple Confidential information and not something CDM can share. But in the meantime, rest assured that we’re researching how this will work so we can share it when it gets to the stage that it’s something you can use. (If you’re a developer, of course, you can access those documents; part of Apple’s warning is that these tools are under development and subject to change, so end users should feel reasonably comfortable waiting for final information.)

Here’s what Apple says publicly:

Inter-App Audio
Now your apps can make beautiful music together. With Inter-App Audio, apps can register their audio streams to share with other apps. For example, a series of apps could publish audio streams of instrument tracks while another uses the combination of these streams to compose a song. Inter-App Audio also provides for MIDI control of audio rendering, remotely launching other registered Inter-App Audio apps and more. [while on the Developer site, that link is not behind the registration login or marked confidential, so feel free to have a look at some other features]

Note that there are some nifty tricks in there: MIDI control of audio rendering is new, and not something we’ve yet seen in Audiobus and JACK. And while remote launching is something you can do with Audiobus, for instance, the inclusion of these features as official APIs may mean that iOS 7 apps play well with Audiobus and JACK even without official support. We’ll know more closer to release.

Remember that Apple themselves have implemented Audiobus compatibility in GarageBand. That suggests we should be able to combine the benefits of these tools. And yet again, iOS has under-the-hood support for features audio users love – as other platforms struggle to keep up. (The notable exception remains Linux – but it seems increasingly, the best choices for music production are OS X, Windows, Linux, and iOS.)

Supported devices:

iOS 7 beta supports iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPod touch (5th generation). Support for iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, and iPad mini is coming later this summer.

Note that not all of those devices will support all of iOS 7′s features, but so far, it appears they will have common audio functionality.

And a new iPod touch seems a good choice for a developer wanting a handheld to bang about with the new beta on, rather than their main phone. (Cough.)

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iTunes iRadio, and Apple’s Solution to the Future of Music: Stream, then Buy


While they were busy not killing the Mac and the Mac Pro, it seems Apple also had some ideas about how to not kill music. Amidst hair pulling and gnashing of teeth over how streaming will impact the future of music business models, Apple’s answer is spelled out in their press release:

“It’s the music you love most and the music you’re going to love, and you can easily buy it from the iTunes Store with just one click.”

Whether iTunes Radio specifically works or not, this seems an obvious model. Music recordings as a business work so long as the people selling them – whether a massive label or an individual artist – can work out ways of selling them and not just streaming them.

Apple even lays out what it thinks makes sense to stream in the same release:

Whether it’s an exclusive single from an up-and-coming band or a pre-release stream of an entire album, iTunes Radio has it all. iTunes Radio will also be home to special events including live streams direct from the iTunes Festival in London and other exclusive iTunes Sessions.

Those buy links were prominent in demos in the WWDC keynote.

It seems a direction people recording music are already going: stream the whole album first, give away promotional exclusives, then offer sales of the real album (often supplementing digital with physical). It’s how, most recently, readers got acquainted with Jon Hopkins.

There’s reason to assume this may be a long game. While musicians may well wind up being as impoverished as always, the companies serving up the streams might eventually want to profit. (You know, instead of actually losing money: a worthy question to ask of Spotify.)

For now, it’s far too early to judge iTunes Radio’s chances of success. And certainly, you shouldn’t expect iTunes to be an indie darling: it seems many independent artists and small labels are paying just to get on iTunes, left out of many promotional deals (like iTunes Festival, with headliners like Justin Timberlake). But if you want Apple’s take on the idea – and why they may have earned cooperation from labels frustrated with services like Spotify – it’s all there in the black ink.

Personally, I’ll bet on any of the players whose ink is black over the ones streaming red.

Image courtesy Apple.

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From Apple, No Lack of Commitment to the Mac, Pros, Creation [WWDC]

And you thought Apple was just going to turn everything into an iPad. Instead, they make something that looks like a home appliance designed by Master Control Program, covered in ports.

And you thought Apple was just going to turn everything into an iPad. Instead, they make something that looks like a home appliance designed by Master Control Program, covered in ports.

Here’s a quick way to sum up the revelations in today’s Apple event: “Oh, so that’s what was keeping them.”

It’s certainly true when it comes to OS X and the long-awaited Mac Pro.

Critics of Apple and concerned loyal users have worried that the growing success of iOS and consumer platforms would erode support for the company’s pro users. But evidence of a strategic shift has been largely absent. Sure, Apple has added cloud features, an App Store, and iOS apps to the desktop platform – significant changes. But those are all essentially no-brainer updates, and need not conflict with the needs of pro users or the creative community. The desktop is still a platform on which you can install software from any source you like – app store release or not. Desktop is still the place for high-performance I/O like Thunderbolt. Desktop OS X is still centered around mouse and keyboard. In fact, for all the worries about Apple blurring its tablet with its desktop, it’s been Microsoft and the PC ecosystem that has done that more than Apple – for better and for worse.

It almost seems like Apple is unwilling to walk away from the lucrative ecosystem that allows it to sell high-end, high-profit hardware, huh? That should surprise no one. Apple themselves point out their computer sales have grown while the PC has sagged, and they earn #1 spots for desktops and laptops and in customer satisfaction. This formula is working for them as a business. The Apple you know – what you love, what you love – is the Apple on desktop you’re going to continue to get.

If you like the Mac the way it is, Apple’s WWDC keynote today ought to calm fears. Apple updated the MacBook Air, but focused on extended battery life rather than rethinking the UI or functionality. You can’t fold a MacBook into a tablet; Apple will sell you an iPad for that. And there are major advantages to that strategy. It’s hard to imagine Apple ever selling you a laptop that will make your arms numb or leave you frantically tapping through UIs designed for a mouse, fat fingers struggling to make a menu open.

In fact, for blurring lines, look instead fo Microsoft and OEMs. It’s on Windows that you’re seeing tablets and laptops blur, for better and for worse (see: fat finger problems). (We’ll return soon to a review of what the PC world is offering after our visit to Acer and Computex last week in Taipei.)

So, yes, you can sync your Maps app with your iPhone. But otherwise, Apple touted greater performance, new technology for coaxing speed out of memory and disk access, and “high-end” usability features like better multiple display support. Apple even acknowledged that video editors and musicians demand high-end machines with a sneak preview of the Mac Pro. That upcoming cylindrical machine will focus on loads of I/O (multiple Thunderbolt ports on dedicated controllers, multiple USB3, and an enhanced Thunderbolt 2), and the latest CPU and GPU tech from Intel and AMD, respectively. This is pro stuff, creator stuff. It’s a Mac that’s even more focused on the high-end user. Correction: Schiller incorrectly said FireWire, and then so did I. It’s Thunderbolt, though backwards-compatible with FireWire. Incidentally, at least so far, that backwards compatibility hasn’t had some of the early troubles that USB3/USB2 did. And, hey, at least neither of us said “SCSI.”

There are some question marks. Apple mentioned “energy-optimized audio buffering” in a slide, but it’s not clear what that is or if it will have an impact on audio latency. And “inter-app audio” is back on an iOS slide, even more confusingly than last year. (In the past year, Apple unveiled nothing, and third parties created not one but two tools that do the job.) We’ll find out about these and other changes when we can, and all bets are off until there’s something real to test.

But the overall story is clear. The Mac in the age of the iPad is getting smarter, not more dumbed down.

Just Don’t Ask About Logic

So, musicians need not worry about the health of the Mac. Of course, this brings us to a certain flagship music production tool called Logic, and there, I don’t think you can be quite as confident.

WWDC is not the place you’d expect Logic news, but is a reminder of … the absence of Logic news.

Apple is both a hardware and platform company and an app developer. Parsing the two can be tricky. Apple referred to musicians by name in the keynote as a target audience for Mac Pro – the hardware. But not one instant in today’s keynote mentioned music production. Final Cut Pro X made an appearance, with expanded multiple monitor support and the guts to take advantage of the Mac Pro’s new horsepower. All that absurd I/O bandwidth and more powerful GPUs seem to make sense for the video market. It’s the music side that was absent. That may or may not be meaningful, but it means we still don’t know what’s going on.

Final Cut is safe; that’s clear. GarageBand is unique and a showpiece both on iOS and OS X. But Logic is a complex, niche DAW with a presumably large codebase that extends back to Emagic days. It’s hard to put yourself in Apple’s shoes and know what you would do with it, let alone read Apple’s mind.

And apologies to Logic and GarageBand fans, but Mac audio pros don’t need Apple making apps for the Mac to remain a viable audio platform. (Ask, in alphabetical order, Ableton, Avid, MOTU, Native Instruments, Propellerhead, or Steinberg, for starters.) So, the motivation for Apple to be in the DAW business may be waning.

Logic’s absence of updates – even recent maintenance updates – is also cause for concern. It seems to indicate either a lot of work on Logic, or none – making any sort of speculation maddeningly useless.

I think Logic as we now know it is almost certainly dead. What we don’t know – and this is fundamental – is whether it’s dead in advance of a genuinely new version, or truly being put out to pasture. We also don’t know how any new version would stack up to increasingly-advanced competition; Apple’s competitors haven’t stood still waiting for the company to release its new DAW. They’ve continued to advance.

All Logic users can do is wait. The Mac Pro announcement today is a reminder that Apple sets its own pace. Logic fans can only hope that, like the stuff in today’s keynote, there’s something great that’s taking some time.

But either way, fears of the iPad hurting the Mac as a music platform are clearly unfair. Apple isn’t your only choice in music platforms. But it remains in an enviable position in desktop, tablet, and phone – and there’s no reason to think that position is going to change any time soon.

Addendum: Apple, if the reason Logic Pro X is taking a long time is that it’s because there’s some ridiculous new version of Sculpture written entirely in OpenCL optimized for the new Mac Pro, oh, yes, all is forgiven. I shouldn’t be writing that here, as it’ll get Logic users’ hopes up. Let’s keep it between us.

The post From Apple, No Lack of Commitment to the Mac, Pros, Creation [WWDC] appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Apple iOS 6 und Inter-App Audio

Vieles wurde auf der gestrigen World Wide Developers Conference von Apple vorgestellt. Vor allem neue Hardware – aber auch Software, unter anderem iOS 6 für Apples Mobilgeräte. Was nicht großartig vorgestellt wurde, man aber auf einem der Folien-Bilder bei Scott Forstalls Präsentation erhaschen konnte, ist Inter-App Audio. Hinter dem Begriff kann natürlich vieles stecken, aber es ist naheliegend, dass es sich hierbei um eine Art neuem Audio-Routing für iPad und Co. handelt. Das bedeutet aber auch, dass wir uns zukünftig wohl auf vollwertigere DAWs für Apples Tablets einstellen könnten. Was vor allem daran liegen würde, dass die Kommunikation zwischen verschiedenen Apps bzw. das hin und herschicken von Audio endlich vollwertig möglich wäre. Eventuell wird Inter-App Audio ja sogar einen besseren Austausch mit Desktop-DAWs ermöglichen.