Even if you have no musical abilities, your iPhone gives you the tools to create lush, multi-layered tracks in an instant, thanks to the proliferation of simple, speedy interfaces that require neither practice nor patience. Crossfader might be the best representation of this fact to date. With a brilliant concept that uses the iPhone's accelerometer to mix and mash popular tunes, the app won't teach you how to be a world-class DJ, but it will get your next party started quickly.
Tablet DJs have long been happy with the two primary players in that sandbox: Native Instruments’ Traktor DJ and Algoriddim’s djay, the latter of which launched a stellar sequel not long ago. Both are digital spinning powerhouses, but carrying around a large library of music has always been a limiting factor for covering all potential sonic bases. That’s where Pacemaker is trying to carve out a unique niche: it’s the only iPad DJ software that comes with Spotify support.
Our iPhones have turned us all into amateur musicians. Whether we're composing rock ballads with GarageBand or dropping beats with djay, the apps we tap and swipe have given us the ability to make beautiful music without suffering through hours of lessons. Keezy is not one of these apps. With a ridiculously minimal interface that's as fun as it is frustrating, Keezy turns your phone into a capable eight-track sampler — but you'll have to bring your own beats.
Photoshop-style bitmap image editors work with pixels, and therefore require large file sizes in order to preserve resolution. By comparison, vector-based illustrations are lightweight and able to scale up or down without a loss in quality, but finding quality App Store solutions for creating and editing such files can be a challenge. One such option is Inkpad, which has now gone from paid to free with the most recent release – and not the kind of free that involves in-app purchases to be useful. Instead, developer Taptrix made the app open source, allowing others to build upon its work and contribute to future versions.
Vine and Instagram make it easy for would-be filmmakers to create brief epics of the imagination using just an iPhone, with no traditional editing required. But those looking to expand their horizons will find far more creative options with a modestly priced app from the creators of FocusTwist. Presumably a play on the word “vignette” as much as it is a nod to Twitter’s micro-moviemaking service, Vinyet delivers 23 real-time cinematic filters along with a host of pro-end features, like stop motion, time-lapse, animated GIF export, and more control over captured segments.
Thor Polysonic Synthesizer is a highly-programmable monster, and it doesn’t take much scrolling through the 1000 included presets to get a great taste of what it’s capable of – which is truly rich, thick sound, even when played polyphonically. From subtle bass and pad sounds all the way to animated, pulsing soundscapes, Thor packs a powerful punch. Listening to it through headphones or decent speakers is a must, as the tiny iPad speaker really can’t do it justice.
Waldorf is a German synth company with a pedigree that dates back more than a couple of decades, and specializes in a branch of sound generation called "wavetable synthesis," which blends sampled sounds and synthesized filters together for slick sonic goodness. Its new iPad app, Nave, is a bold monster, with tons of deep programmability, and a thick, gorgeous sound that truly rivals hardware synths that cost more than the highest-capacity iPad.
Fancy yourself a comic book fan? If you've always dreamed of weaving together your own comics and image-heavy stories, but don't have the motivation (or ideas) to pursue the real deal, Halftone 2 for iPad can scratch that itch and then some. With more flexibility and features than its predecessor, this greatly improved follow-up lets you create elaborate and hilarious comics from your camera roll almost effortlessly – if you're willing to drop some green on in-app purchases, that is.
One of the most amazing things about the App Store's offerings is the fact that you get so much punch for relatively few bucks; so when a drum app shows up that costs a whopping $49.99, it’s hard to think that it’s truly better than 10 existing $4.99 drum apps combined. While Different Drummer does indeed offer a unique take on the process of laying down a beat, it’s a bit rich at the current price, which is a pity – there's some real innovation to be found here. Different Drummer really lives up to its name: It’s a drummer, alright, but it’s radically different from any other iOS beat machine – or most plugins we’ve ever run into on the desktop.
Those who live and breathe presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote have little trouble working up great-looking slide decks with minimal effort. Meanwhile, the rest of us struggle to find the right backgrounds, graphics, and fonts for effectively conveying our message – a task now made effortless with Haiku Deck. Available free for iPad, Haiku Deck uses slick themes to help users create stunning presentations in as little time as possible.