If you are interested in the possibility of making music on an iOS device, over the last few years, Audiobus – despite not making any sound of its own – has been about as ‘must have’ an app as it is possible to get. This is the utility app that made the whole process involved with getting various other music apps (synths, guitar amp sims, audio effects, DAWs, etc.) working together into a coherent workflow just so much easier… In short, when iOS music making was just a bunch of brilliant, but disconnected, apps, Audiobus was the solution to getting them to work together when iOS itself wasn’t able to do so….
For lots of long-standing iOS music makers, therefore, Audiobus holds something of a special status and it is difficult to underestimate the importance of the app in helping us realise the potential of the platform for music production. So, when the Audiobus team release information of the next major iteration of the app – Audiobus 3 – lots of iOS musicians are going to be very interested. And that’s what happened over the week-end….
We knew it was coming as a number of other iOS music apps have, as part of their own update cycles, already stated that they are ‘Audiobus 3 ready’. However, Sebastian Dittmann has now confirmed that Audiobus 3 will arrive on, or around, March 27th. The exact date might, however, depend a little upon Korg’s final release date for the major (and highly anticipated) Gadget update (so as to avoid stepping on each others press space) and which is also currently scheduled for the end of March; watch this space….
The major update looks like it will have three new headline features. First, the app will provide MIDI routing between compatible (I assume this mean ‘Audiobus 3 ready’?) apps, making it easier to configure your overall arrangement of apps within a specific Audiobus project. Second, Audiobus will now support Audio Unit plugins as well as Audiobus and IAA compatible apps. Third, Audiobus 3 will include an input mixer allowing you to balance volumes of all your audio sources. The combination of these new features, alongside the inter-app audio connectivity that Audiobus already provides, plus the fact that all your project configurations will be saved for instant recall, will, of course, allow Audiobus to perform a much more comprehensive role as an ‘music app hub’ than the current version. Current Audiobus users will, therefore, undoubtedly have a lot to look forward to.
Of course, there are alternatives. While Audiobus was perhaps an essential app for every iOS musician for a number of years, with the advent of Audio Units in iOS9 (and the somewhat wider adoption of AUv.3 with iOS10) and the launch of AUM back in February 2016, some iOS music makers have adopted a different route to their inter-app connectivity. Indeed, given the headline features of AUM – IAA/AU/Audiobus app hosting, MIDI routing, mixer, flexible audio routing – I can only imagine that it will make for an interesting comparison between the detailed specifications in each of these areas once Audiobus 3 is actually with us.
Audiobus 3 will, however, undoubtedly be a major update on the current version and Sebastian has already confirmed this will be a new app, separate from Audiobus 2 (which users can, of course, keep using). While some (I hope a minority) might grumble about this not being a free update, I think ‘new app’ is inevitable, both in terms of starting with fresh code (and only having to carry a minimum of backwards compatibility stuff into the new code?) and an income stream to support the considerable development time involved.
Anyway, fingers crossed that the last week or so of development work and Apple’s app approval process run smoothly…. if so, then we can all get out hands on the brand new and shiny Audiobus 3 is around a week :-)