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.
Ever since iTunes was introduced in 2001, Apple has continued to tinker with it, updating how it works and how you access and play music. iTunes 11 has introduced some interesting new interface components, but simplicity and elegance within iTunes are only skin-deep. The app remains a complex, frequently unwieldy beast, primarily because it now has to deal with managing all kinds of media on your Mac, including books, TV shows, movies, and apps. At best, you can sometimes hide the clutter, but iTunes is no longer an app with a razor-sharp focus.
The purpose of this group test, then, is to explore alternative apps that focus on the single act of playing music.
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.
Twitter has long been a way for musicians to connect with their fans, but the standalone Twitter #Music app is something different: It's an opportunity for the social networking company to leverage its ubiquitous service to turn users onto new artists. The glossy iPhone and iPod touch offering pulls data from tweets and trends to build visual grids of artists in different categories, with iTunes audio samples just a couple of taps away. Twitter #Music looks the part, but while you might find some diamonds in the rough, it won't necessarily be due to the app's calculations.
Xyla Entertainment is looking for a few more closed beta testers for the Mac version of their beat-based platformer Rush Bros, so now's a good time to rush to their homepage and sign up. It looks like you'll have a good time if you get in. Reminiscent of the Sonic franchise with its focus on speed, Rush Bros lets you use your own music to alter puzzle-packed levels that you and another player race through simultaneously.
If you’ve written off web apps as underpowered imitations of desktop software, think again. Many of today’s web apps are as good as their Finder-bound counterparts, and some even do your work for you! Web apps are convenient, too: since they live in the cloud with their related files, you can run them in a browser on almost any computer without worrying about backups or hunting through hard drives for important documents. Best of all, many web apps are free, and allow you to pay for more advanced features as you go, if and when you need them.
Over the next few pages, we’ll uncover some of the best web apps available—ones that can perform the most important tasks in your digital lifestyle. You might think that only desktop software can handle them, but read on. That notion is about to change.
Usually when we think about music apps, we consider streaming options like Spotify and Rdio, or discovery tools like Pandora. If you want to listen to some great music, find the tracks and albums you love, and get great suggestions for new bands to check out all in one place, there's no app that can match your local record store. Record Store Day is on April 20 this year, and it's a celebration of your local music shop where you can pick up the latest releases, ultra-rare exclusives, and everything in between. Though a High Fidelity-style top five list was tempting, we found even more helpful apps to let you make the most of your Record Store Day experience.
Those rumors about Twitter Music launching last weekend at Coachella didn't quite pan out (unless you were a celebrity, apparently), but the real thing is finally landing Thursday in the form of web and iPhone apps.
Take the electronic stylings of the cult Swiss electronic band Yello, stir in the visually interactive approach of iOS, and you’ll end up with something as profoundly cool as Yellofier, a free app for taking sampled sounds – including your own – and turning them into radically cool and wild musical passages. A commercial app of this depth and breadth would be a revelation, but for free, it’s just short of miraculous.