GarageBand for iOS

Christopher Breen
10 November, 2011
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GarageBand for iOS

Link to: GarageBand for iOS




Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

GarageBand for iOS, 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

Age Rating:  4+


Available on the App Store Buy
App Guide

How does Apple improve on what was already a remarkable music app? By making it a universal app compatible with the iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch and later; adding support for 3/4 and 6/8 time signatures; allowing you to configure custom chords for autoplay instruments; providing new swing and triplet quantization settings; adding an arpeggiator feature to Smart Keyboard instruments; and tweaking GarageBand’s velocity sensitivity settings for more predictable results.

I understand that, after running your eyes over these improvements, non-musicians may be thinking, “Ohh-kay, not for me.” I implore you to stick around. GarageBand was developed, in large part, with you in mind. Sure, ‘real’ musicians will find it an invaluable tool for sketching out their more harmonious thoughts, but it also exists to allow those without a dominant music gene to experience the thrill of creating a tuneful composition.

My colleague, Serenity Caldwell, has taken an admirable first look at GarageBand 1.1 and many of its new features, so I needn’t repeat her efforts. What I can do is provide a bit more perspective on how these features can help musical newbies as well as those with more sonic seasoning.

GarageBand on the small screen

At first blush, it’s hard to imagine how GarageBand could work on any iOS device other than an iPad. After all, the app demands not only that you be able to view multiple tracks (in the iPhone/iPod touch implementation you can see four tracks at once), but also muck around with settings screens and configure and play instruments. Apple has cleverly redesigned the interface for the iPhone and iPod touch so that you use pop-over menus and tabs to select the functions you need. For example, to travel to the My Songs or Instruments screens, simply tap the downward-pointing triangle at the top-left of the display and choose the function you desire. When within the Keyboard, Drums, Guitar Amp, Smart Drums, Smart Bass, Smart Keyboard, or Smart Guitar screen, you use this same pop-over menu to choose instruments sounds or, in the case of Guitar Amp, another amp model.

Should you wish to play with track, section, or song settings, tap the Tools pop-over menu in the top-right corner and in the resulting screen tap the Track, Sections, or Song tab to be taken to the corresponding screen.

Organ effects: The Effects pop-over menu provides access to effect controls such as these organ drawbars.

You also use a pop-over menu in the iPhone/iPod touch version to adjust instrument parameters that are normally found on the main screen in the iPad version. For example, if you want to adjust an organ’s effects or draw bar settings, tap on the Effects button at the top of the screen and the effect pane rolls down from the top of the screen. When it does, you can still play some or all of the instrument – you can tap on some of the drum pads in the Smart Drum instrument or play chords using the Smart Guitar, for example – allowing you to hear how the effect alters the sound of the instrument. This Effects button is also the avenue for exposing the smart instruments’ Autoplay controls.

By default, the Tracks screen shows you an icon of the instrument associated with the track – a guitar or organ, for example – along the left side of the screen. On the iPhone/iPod touch version of the app, swipe this area to the right to expose each track’s mute, solo and volume controls.

On track: On the iPhone/iPod touch version, swipe to the right to expose the track controls.

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