No matter how well we position recording apps on our home screen, there are those moments when we just can’t open them fast enough – like when our kids say something adorable, or your boss rattles off a series of important sales figures at an otherwise boring meeting. Short of having your iPhone struck by lightning while driving at 88 mph, Heard is the only way we know of to actually record something that already happened. And it works really well. Using a simple, slick interface, the app stores a constant buffer of every sound your iPhone picks up, and with just a tap, you can save what you heard as far back as five minutes ago.
When you launch Algoriddim's djay 2 (reviewed on iPad; also available separately for iPhone/iPod touch), you'll be met with the same virtualized turntables that you remember from the first go-round. Whether you've ever scratched a record – or used the prior version, for that matter – your fingers will immediately know what to do. And it's even more fun this time around. The new dual-turntable interface turns up the volume on the realism, polishing the rougher edges and adding grooves to the digital vinyl that correspond with the rhythm of each song. And the color-coded waveform layer feature proves a killer addition to this excellent sequel.
There's something about music that brings us together. From drum circles to the original Napster, our favorite songs somehow sound better when we share them with other people. Even when we're rocking out to our iPods, we want our friends to know what we're listening to, endlessly tweeting and posting updates to our Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Nwplyng looks to clean up our social feeds with a whole new way to share. Despite its name (Now Playing minus the vowels), it isn't another digital jukebox. Instead, Nwplyng wants to be your favorite app for sharing and discovering new songs by turning the process into something of a competition.
There are many iOS music creation apps, but very few that are designed primarily as real-time multi-FX units. Turnado instantly takes the throne as the king of iPad audio processors. It’s a powerhouse of 24 different audio effects – all highly programmable and sonically luscious – resulting in a monster effects unit suitable for both studio and live performance that sports excellent audio quality and some truly insane sound mangling potential.
If there’s one thing that all musicians tend to fret over, it’s pitch. That's a little easier to hear than to try to describe, but when you’re listening to your favorite song being tortured at a local karaoke spot, you’ll know when it’s not being kept in tune by some buzzed bar patron. There are more than a couple of competent iOS apps that use the built-in microphone and/or incoming audio signal, sample it, and check to see if it is indeed in tune, but Tunable puts a truly new, innovative spin on the overall concept. In the process, it delivers on the promise of being a one-stop tuning shop.
If you've ever dreamed of talking like a robot while warping at high speeds through hyperspace, then look no further: Vio lets you simultaneously fulfill both of those wishes. Part toy and part tool, this bizarre musical app takes a little tinkering to get a feel for, but it's a blast to play around with for a while once you figure it out. Using your iOS device's microphone, Vio transforms your voice and other sounds it picks up into a musical mish-mash of sci-fi robotic craziness.
Recording and synthesizer apps aren’t the only options in the musical arena. Tablets have inspired an entirely new type of musical app, and Chordion is an excellent, visually sophisticated example of this app genre. It's a creative tool that makes it easy to try out different musical shades and chord structures with maximum ease.
There's no shortage of iPhone and iPod touch music players in the App Store. They all basically do the same thing, but each one presents your tunes in a unique way, using clever interfaces and bold fonts to make your music look as good as it sounds. Many of them subscribe to Dieter Rams' principles of good design, but as far as we can tell, only one pays direct homage to his timeless vision. To say T3 Player is inspired by Rams' Braun radio is like saying the iPhone 4S is inspired by the iPhone 4.
The way we listen to music has changed dramatically over the last decade. The rise of the MP3 and shrinking costs of storage mean that for the vast majority of us, our music collections live on a hard drive somewhere, rather than in crates or on shelves.