Garageband update – Apple finally add AU support to their iOS DAW/sequencer

Download from iTunes App Storegarageband logo 3While I’m more than happy to recommend recording apps such as Cubasis, Auria Pro or Gadget to more experienced iOS musicians, if you are just taking your first steps with the platform (and particularly if it represents your first serious encounter with recording/music technology in any form), Apple’s GarageBand for iOS is actually pretty hard to beat. Even if you just use it as an audio sketchpad, it would be worth the price of entry.

With the release of iOS9 – and its inclusion of the new iOS version of the Audio Units plugin protocol –  we have been waiting for an update to GarageBand to see if Apple would capitalise on their own technology. That update arrived yesterday and GarageBand now stands at v.2.1…..  and, yes, amongst quite a number of other things, the app now does offer hosting of suitable AU plugins although, at this stage, I think it is only support of AU instruments (AUi) of which, of course, we currently only have one; Arturia’s iSEM.

GarageBand - now with new virtual drummer options.

GarageBand – now with new virtual drummer options.

In fact, Apple have added a whole bunch of new features and refinements to GarageBand….  and, when I’ve had time to dig in, then I’ll post a proper review of these new features. However, AU support aside, this includes some additional ‘virtual drummer’ type options, a Live Loops feature (which looks pretty cool), some new DJ-style audio effects and (even if only basic and for track volume) an automation system.

GarageBand now includes support for Audio Units instrument apps.

GarageBand now includes support for Audio Units instrument apps.

Anyway, it is good to see GarageBand for iOS get an update. As a ‘my first recording app’ candidate, GarageBand for iOS is a very good bet….  if you are newbie iOS musician looking for a place to start, you could do a lot worse…. download, spend some time with it and then, if you do outgrow it, take the very useful experience on with you to a more fully featured iOS recording environment…


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    1. No AU fx then ?

    2. I saw a tweet yesterday from the devs of MicSwap Pro, where they indicate that MSP can be used in GarageBand/iOS via AU. I’ll have to try it this evening.

      Also interested to see the new “virtual drummer” option. It looks a lot like the Drummer feature in Logic Pro X, so I’ll be very pleased if it’s the same one (and even more so, if it’s “compatible” when importing GB/iOS projects into LPX, as I’m keen to do).

      The FAWM songwriting challenge is coming up next month – I’ve often used GB on iDevices for writing and demoing FAWM material, and with this overhaul I suspect I’ll be GarageBand-ing a lot this time around!

      • Hi Tim…. I’ve been too busy to dig in just yet but any shared insights welcome if you get a chance :-) best wishes, John

    3. Luis Miguel says:

      WOW what a massive IOS GarageBand upgrade!!!
      I love the ”Section Loop”. GarageBand now is like Ableton Live. We can make lots of loops in the section loop and recording them to the “Arrange View” automatically . AMAZING UPGRADE thank you WOWOWOW

    4. You need to be running iOS 9 to update Garageband.
      Does anybody know if there are any major music apps/synths that are still not compatible with 9 yet before I update from 8? I have a ton!

    5. Darren — I’ve got iOS 9 on a couple devices and all works well…I run many of the big name apps, and others, and all is okay. Be sure to check the AudioBus forums for specific apps.

      As for GB, I updated on iPhone 6+ on iOS 9.2 and happy to report it works, and sounds good. Some new instruments are nice: flute, brass, etc. still need to figure out the AUX stuff but that will come in time. The Drummer seems cool and the DJ stuff…well, it’s not for me just yet, I will leave that for other folks to delve into deeper.

    6. It’s brilliant both on iPhone and iPad. What will take the cake is when they (hopefully) provide Alchemy as an AU. Then certain projects could be taken very far on mobile then be seamlessly imported to Logic if necessary for finishing.

      Maybe other iOS synth vendors will eventually support AU on iOS but I’m not counting on it any time soon.

    7. You’re right, David!

      A FULL version of Alchemy would be a true gift from Apple!

      Sadly, Apple had already purchased Alchemy by the time I discovered it. That meant only the free “tease” version with no upgrade path. Hopefully they will bring it back just in-time for NAMM.

      SERIOUSLY, how much effort would it take??? And how much happiness would it bring to iOS music fanatics world-wide?

    8. Hello

      Just been scratching my head trying to find Live Loops in Garageband 2.1. Eventually I’ve discovered it’s only available on devices with an A6 processor, i.e. not my ipad3 or anything older.

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