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How does the GarageBand that we know and love work on the iPad? Simple. It doesn’t. Instead of futilely attempting to replicate the experience of the Mac version, GarageBand for iPad plays to its touchscreen strengths and ultimately feels more accessible and less demanding. Is it stripped down? Definitely. Dumbed down? Anything but. Make no mistake -- GarageBand for iPad is not an inferior wannabe version.
In fact, GarageBand is filled with so many features, it’ll keep even master musicians singing its praises. That’s because they’ll find hundreds of hidden little gems -- like holding the Smart Guitar strings in the right spot to play palm-muted or tapping chords with one, two, or three fingers to produce wildly different strum patterns.
Smart Guitars are even cooler than they look.
The great features don’t end with Smart Guitars, and complex beats, piano duets, and even 1/32 dotted arpeggiated chords are produced by simply tapping a few easily placed buttons. When those fail you, GarageBand’s help icon is always only a tap away, and it’s incredibly effective at explaining features concisely. And all of this in an impossibly tidy 369MB!
If your masterpieces were stuck on your iPad, they’d all inevitably come out sounding like “Taps.” Luckily, GarageBand allows exporting of both M4As and .band files, meaning you can upload them straight to iTunes or fine-tune them in GarageBand (or even Logic Pro). Despite the slew of flashy features, it’s this one that makes GarageBand for iPad the most useful for musicians. Nearly all of GarageBand’s shortcomings -- from its track limit to silly bass walks—are reconciled by how easy it is to transfer to your computer for further production. Ahh, the sweet sounds of interoperability.
The bottom line. GarageBand for iPad won’t replace your Mac for ultra-complex music making, but it just might for everything else.
GarageBand for iPad 1.0
An iPad (either model)
Incredibly complex. You can make impressive music in minutes. Extremely polished 1.0 software. Only five bucks.
Occasionally glitches and quits. Frequently “optimizes performance,” breaking up creative flow. No way to change stompboxes in smart guitar. Basses all sound kind of lame. Eight-track limitation will be too limiting for some.