Internet juggernaut Buzzfeed has purchased discchord in an acqui-hire to secure the prosaic writing of yours truly. Most of the content you've come to associate with discchord will still be here... Only better!
Given Buzzfeed's forumlaic headlines and appeal to the lowest common denominator, you may think that the people behind Buzzfeed were severely impaired cretins. Perhaps the victims of an industrial chemical accident that was extraordinarily high in mercury. You'd be incorrect in either surmise! Bafflingly, and sadly, Buzzfeed hires some of the brightest minds of their generation.
Their honed talent has perfected the art of journalism. Dan Rathers has been disgraced, Walter Cronkite is dead, and Christiane Amanpour has never once deigned to tell us which celebrity would be our best bestie based on a quiz of our puppy preferences. The old generation of elitist news is over and overthrown by millennials prepared to tackle the vexing challenges of the 21st century:
Today Apple held a major press event at a school in Chicago. A select group of tech journalists from all over the world descended on Chicago's Lane Tech College Prep School where it was revealed that they wasted their time traveling to Chicago. Don't get me wrong. I love Chicago. But I wouldn't have even traveled their from the suburbs for this.
The focus of the event was on education. They also introduced a new version of their $330 iPad, not to be confused with the iPad Air, which has been removed from the Apple Store... presumably to avoid confusion. The new iPad sports the A10 from the iPhone 7, and includes Apple Pencil support.
Against all odds, we managed to make it through 2017 without an armed nuclear conflict! Hurray for us!
At this rate might might just see the other side of 2018. We need to start planning for the future, but before we do let's take a look back at our predictions for 2017.
Heretik7, stub, DulceVida, and RedSkyLullaby predicted that BeatMaker 3 would arrive in 2017. Heretik7 went an extra-step and divined that NanoStudio 2 would not.
RedSkyLullaby predicted we'd see desktop AUs ported to iOS and Audio Damage obliged with a whole suite of them!
Rob Fenn, DulceVida, and Blaaaarghonaut predicted a new app from Korg and iMono/Poly made that a reality with its release in August!
DulceVida gets extra points with his further prediction of, "and nothing useful for the Apple Watch."
RedSkyLullaby and Heretik7 were hoping for an update to Samplr, but it remains un-updated since 2014.
Erik reasonably expected Cubasis and Korg's classic apps to get Ableton Link, but was disappointed in both cases.
In a similar vein, Rob Fenn predicted we see an iElectribe gadget for Gadget. This is a great idea, but it didn't happen for 2017.
My 2017 Prediction: I fucking nailed it!
Last year I predicted a lot of new YouTubers would start doing app related content, in what turns out to be my most accurate prediction ever. In 2017 we got a lot of great app demos from Electronisounds, Pants of Death, TheAudioDabbler, Expanding Sound, RedSkyLullaby, and many others. And we got all of that in addition to the continued support from Jakob Haq, thesoundtestroom, and myself. Even iPad Loops and Apps4iDevices started doing videos again! 2017 was the best year yet for new original app videos!
What's coming in 2018?
My prediction this year is more of a statement of intent. In years past we've expected larger corporations to get on-board with music apps, and we've been mostly disappointed. From private conversations I've gathered that the driving factor that keeps them out is simple economics. From what I hear, all of the large corporations that are currently involved in iOS apps are doing so out of marketing and good will; rather than reaping any profits from their efforts. We can't change that.
The app economy is insane. We expect apps to be around $5-10, and we all benefit from those prices. I haven't bought a VST since I got my first iPad. I'd rather spend $200 on 20 apps than $200 on 1 VST, and for the many amateur musicians here that makes sense. I'm sure there are thousands of people reading this who have never bought a full-priced VST. And why would they? They're not making music to make a profit, so how could they justify spending so much on a VST?
Unfortunately these prices don't make any amount of sense for large companies. Instead of hoping to see more from Moog, or for Roland to suddenly decide to get serious about apps, we need to focus our effort and support behind the independent developers who are already bringing us amazing apps. These individual developers can make apps that are financially viable for themselves, and we need to embrace them as the pillars of this hobby that they are.
I don't think we do enough of that, and as a community I hope we can change that in 2018. Coding is hard. Coding something original is even harder. Music app developers aren't doing it to get rich, or they'd be spending all of their time and effort on making games. Flappy Birds made more in an hour than most music app devs will make from their apps in 10 years. They keep coming back with new apps because they want to provide this community with new music making tools. But we pester the hell out of them for support and feature demands. I can't even count the number of devs who have confessed to a waning interest because they don't want to deal with the inane support emails they get. Or worse yet, the entitled whining for features on forums and Facebook. "I paid $5 for this app back in 2014, why doesn't it have this new technology that was released after it?" Devs have to be polite in their responses because they don't want 1 Star reviews on iTunes. I don't, so I'm going to come out and say it: You're an entitled ass if you think $5 bought you 24/7 support and free updates for life. Revisiting old projects to add features is boring. They'd much rather be working on new apps and new ideas. If we want developers to continue to bring us great new apps, we need to shift our culture away from being entitled and needy. I'm going to try to do my part, and I hope you will too.
Open Mic: New Year's Predictions for 2018!
I want to end on a lighter note so I'll include a new video from another new YouTuber. Bill Jobs intends to be the Bob Ross of synth apps and he's off to a solid start in his first episode!
In the comments here please share your predictions for what we'll see in 2018!
Every year I try to discourage unnecessary iOS updating. Primarily because there are always complications in every iOS update, followed by months of developers scrambling to fix them. Secondarily to this, there have long been suspicions that Apple was deliberately crippling older hardware with new iOS versions as a form of forced obsolescence. The former has always been good advice, while the later has been dismissed for years by the Apple faithful.
This week Apple admitted to crippling older iPhones. They were caught red-handed when benchmarks revealed the pattern. The iPhone 6s started performing badly at iOS 10.2.1, and even worse at iOS 11.2. Now iPhone 7 owners are finding the same performance hits if they've updated to iOS 11.2, while an iPhone 7 on iOS 11.1.2 continues cruising at full-throttle. Because Apple stops signing older versions of iOS, you are not allowed to down-grade back to a previous version.
Apple stopped signing iOS 11.1.2 this week. If you update to iOS 11.2, you are stuck.
"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.
Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future."
Many in the community have tried to write this off as a, "Oh well, just get your battery replaced and the problem is solved." In fact some news organizations are parroting this claim. But note that Apple does not indicate replacing the battery will alleviate the throttling in any way. This is because it probably doesn't.
This throttling is meant to address unexpected iPhone shutdowns, but iPhone 6s owners reported that those shutdowns continued after using Apple's battery replacement service. If the shutdown problem persists after a battery replacement, it seems like pretty fucking irresponsible journalism to tell readers a battery replacement will also fix Apple's throttling.
While Apple has admitted to iPhone throttling, they haven't mentioned if they are doing the same to iPads. My iPad Air has been my faithful sidekick for years, and I haven't felt the need to upgrade. I did however, have to update to iOS 11 last week. I have since noticed everything feels a lot more sluggish. I would be very surprised if Apple isn't crippling iPads in the same manner, in order to "deliver the best experience for customers."
The free FM Player app arrived last week, and developer Matthew Fecher happened to be in town.
I thought it would be fun to invite him over to record the Let's Play with me. I was correct. This is the best Let's Play ever!
While some of you may think of me as a Big Internet Star, this is only because you've never seen me against any scale. Next to Matthew you can see I'm actually a quite Short Internet Star. Everyone is taller than me. Except for Tom Cruise. I have an inch on Tom.
Just last week Matthew Fecher and the AudioKit team released FM Player, an entirely free (no Ads, no IAPs) app that lets you play with a bunch of classic Yamaha DX7 patches. Matthew happened to be in town, so I invited him to come join me for this Let's Play! As a bonus he brought along the DX7II he used to make the app with!