Review: Air for iPhone

John Brandon
19 January, 2010
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App Guide

Air is a strange, intoxicating app that would have been much better if it offered more than just a way to generate weird sounds.

Like Opal Limited’s other generative music app, Bloom, Air is based on the work of Brian Eno—specifically his Music for Airports release from 1978. Air provides small triangular blocks which you press to generate sounds. Many of them are moody synth sounds, and a few are single notes, so you can mix and match these arrangements into a complete song. Air is at its most astounding when you connect your iPhone to a high-end sound system (I used a pair of NHT speakers) to hear every last note.

Unfortunately, the app—unlike the much more interesting JR Hexatone Pro—does not let you do much more than generate sounds. You can’t program them, and there is no option for recording your compositions or sequencing the notes in unique ways. Even the two modes—Listen and Conduct—are a bit confusing. The former just plays the voices randomly, and the latter is the actual player where you tap the triangles.

Air It Out: Air lets you create compelling ambient music in the style of Brian Eno, but the controls are only meant for quick mood-music samples.

Air lets you connect up to eight iPhones over Wi-Fi for an entire Air orchestra, a cool idea—if you can find participants.

Air is a cool idea that’s worth buying just to experiment with the sounds. However, the app would have been much more impressive if it let you record a song.

[John Brandon is a freelance technology writer based in Minnesota.]

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