Positive Grid are well known within the iOS music making world for their highly regarded guitar rig/amp modelling software with BIAS Amp and BIAS FX being the current flagship products. Having started with iOS, they are, however, one of the few iOS developers that have attempted to ‘go the other way’ and expand their product line into the desktop world. Equally, they have also moved into hardware and their latest product – the BIAS Head amplifier – is an ambitious undertaking, especially as they are entering a market already occupied by some established big-hitters such as Line 6 and Kemper.
They have also stepped outside the pure guitar-based products with, for example, the Final Touch iOS mastering app and some rather nice processor plugins for the desktop. However, on their website, there are also details on an upcoming project – AI Drums – a new sort of virtual drummer app for iOS and that is slatted to arrive in Q4 of 2016 (er… that would be about now then). The interesting thing about AI Drums is that it ‘listens’ to your guitar performance (play a riff or strum some chords) and will then attempt to cough up a suitable drum part….
…. all of which made the appearance of GoBeats from Positive Grid – it arrived as a free app on the App Store back in August – rather a surprise because it is an app into which you strum a few chords or play a riff and it attempt to generate a suitable drum part for you to then play along to. Anyway, I reviewed the initial release of GoBeats so feel free to check out the details 9such as they are; the original release was a pretty simple user experience).
Anyway, during the Black Friday madness, GoBeats received an update to v.1.4.12. There are a number of new additions to the app. For example, you can now use voice control and, while GoBeats vocabulary isn’t massive (there is a stock set of phrases it understands to execute key commands), it does mean you don’t have to take your hands off your guitar (or other instrument) in order to get the app to do its thing.
A further addition is that the app can now find you backing tracks to jam with. This is essentially a voice activated search of YouTube but it is rather neatly done and generally provides you with something in the right ballpark if you specify a genre… oh, and speak clearly and slowly. I’ll often noodle away to a YouTube backing track or three for a bit of improvisation practice session so I found this feature a neat enough way of doing this without actually having to search the ‘Tube myself….
I’m fairly sure GoBeats is a bit of an experiment by Positive Grid and a precursor to the planned AI Drums. I’m not sure this update really gets us a great deal closer to knowing just how fully-formed AI drums might turn out to be…. In its current format, GoBeats is perhaps limited to the ‘occasional practice tool’ category (and, as a free app, there is no shame in that). I am, however, still intrigued enough by the basic concept to now be looking forward to AI Drums. That is, I suspect, what Positive Grid might be hoping…..