GarageBand update – Apple do some fine-tuning 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 were kept waiting a while for an update to GarageBand that could capitalise on Apple’s own technology. That update arrived in v.2.1 back in January…..  but it wasn’t the only welcome new feature as Apple also added a virtual drummer (based upon that built into their desktop DAWs) to the existing Smart Drums lineup.

GarageBand includes hosting for Apple's own AU plugin technology.

GarageBand includes hosting for Apple’s own AU plugin technology.

Anyway, a further update has arrived on the App Store today taking GarageBand for iOS to v.2.1.1. This isn’t perhaps quite such a step up but it does bring some useful workflow refinements. For example, there are now further options to organising and navigating your Apple Loops. Multi-touch gestures have also been added to make multiple selections within the tracks area of the display. New options for sharing have also been aded including the ability to send an exported song via Mail in an uncompressed audio format.

GarageBand - the virtual drummer options added in v.2.1 are really rather good....

GarageBand – the virtual drummer options added in v.2.1 are really rather good….

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…. It’s priced at just UK£3.99/US$4.99 and worth every penny/cent….  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. I agree that Garageband makes a great “first” DAW, but I think it has a bit more to offer than that. I’ve been recording for over twenty years, and I find GB really useful for songwriting, and knocking out polished-sounding demos in a short time. It’s especially handy if you’re somewhere where playing guitar (or even ukulele!) isn’t really an option – I’ve worked out a backing track on the bus before, just using GB’s instruments.

      I also like how neatly GB/iOS projects import into Logic Pro X, which in my workflow is my primary DAW. (I do a lot of my initial “tracking” on iDevices, then transfer the material to the Mac for overdubs and mixing.) “Porting” the Drummer feature from Logic, IMO, was a stroke of genius, especially as the Drummer track settings are retained when a project is imported to Logic.

      Yes, GB is a bit basic if your music workflow is entirely iDevice-based (I’d personally use Auria more if that were me), but if you’re a Logic user, GB/iOS works pretty well as a Logic “companion”. I just wish GB could record 24-bit audio…

      • Hi Tim… agreed…. you can actually go pretty far with the current version of Garageband and the suite of virtual/smart instruments is very good indeed. I guess that the think that, ultimately, I’d find limiting is the relatively light-weight mixing features. If Apple were to add a decent virtual mixer component I think this would really step it up a level…. Thanks and very best wishes, John

    2. The new Chinese instruments in yesterday’s updates are rather nice… but well hidden. You have to go the Advanced Settings to turn them on.

      • Ooohhh… I missed that…. I’ll go and take a look…. :-) Thanks and very best wishes, John

      • John (Film4Q) says:

        Richard, thanks for pointing them out; I’d have missed them as well. Not sure why Apple would make them an ‘optional extra’ as they’re really pleasing. Looking forward to experimenting with them and seeing what they inspire.

        • I think they are enabled by default for users in China, but not the rest of us. It seems to be part of a big Apple marketing push in China.

          But I do take a little bit of offence from the “you Europeans and Americans won’t care about Chinese folk instruments” assumption Apple seem to have made. The Pipa is nicer to play than the standard Garageband guitar (would love to have a mandolin and/or banjo that plays the same way), and the Erhu is nicer than than standard violin.

    3. David A says:

      It’s a great app. Though I’m not sure it will ever get mixing. Even the desktop version of Garagebsnd has a convulated mixing architecture and even Final Cut Pro X still has no mixer. It’s almost as if Apple has EOL’d mixing as a concept :)

      Cubasis has saved the day for iMixing.

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