Judging from the statistics released by Billboard and Nielsen this morning, we're definitely in the midst of another music revolution--much like the one that followed in the wake of the MP3's first appearance. Based on their findings, fewer people are actually buying music, but almost everyone is streaming it. In the first six months of 2013 alone, streaming soared by 24 percent to 51 billion streams.
Blurring the line between marketing tool and vanity project, Kavinsky features the music and comic-like visage of the titular French house artist, who released an album earlier this year. Designed around the fictional backstory behind the record – about a teen who crashes his supernatural Ferrari in the '80s and returns two decades later as a beat-making zombie – the free game alternates between beat-em-up and driving segments without ever explaining the events or hinting at that narrative, but it sure does look and sound cool along the way. Too bad the game itself isn't terribly interesting.
Guitars have always been an iconic symbol of rock and rebellion, which is why it's no surprise that they're the instrument that so many budding musicians flock to en masse. While guitarists might be a dime a dozen these days, great musicians know that having a big bag of tricks to draw from can help push their skills to the limits and beyond. Fortunately, the App Store has everything a guitarist could dream of to give his or her noodling a serious tech-heavy boost. Fancy yourself a six-string samurai? You'll get a ton of mileage out of this virtual toolkit of essential iOS apps to boost your guitar wizardry!
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.
Talk about perfect timing. Just days ahead of this year's WWDC, AllThingsD reported that Sony signed an agreement affirming its participation in Apple's highly anticipated free music streaming service this morning. With that signature, Apple now has the blessing of all three major record labels to proceed with the project, making it extremely likely that we'll hear an official announcement (but not a launch) at WWDC.
Many different genres and software types are well represented in the App Store, including games, musical instruments and recording options, science tools, and loads of other choices. However, so rarely does one app meld together varying experiences in a way that yields something as downright cool, fun, and creative as Musyc. It comes as no surprise that this amazing little gem was created by the same minds behind the excellent drum app DM1, and while it’s hard to completely control at times, the entropy is a big part of the absolute fun here.
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.