2012 was an excellent year for music technology on all platforms, but especially for music apps! This has been an exciting time for everyone and things are only going to get more interesting in 2013. Let's take a look at the past to see where the future might lead!
A Brief History of Music Apps
2008: Just 5 years ago if you were making mobile music, you were doing it on your phone or possibly a Nintendo DS. The offerings were slim, but the potential was there. In 2008 things started to get serious with the release of the original BeatMaker, a budding DAW for iOS.
2009: Fart apps were still the dominant noise maker on iOS in this dark era. Hope was on the horizon though with Thumbjam's release at the end of the year. This was a truly unique instrument and caught the attention of many musicians who were already carrying around iPhones.
2010: With the announcement of the iPad came immediate anticipation from musicians. The iPad was instantly celebrated by bloggers at Synthtopia and MATRIXSYNTH for the new possibilities it represented. Along with the iPad release came top-tier apps from Korg and Propellerhead. This year also saw the first signs of MIDI on iOS, a necessity for professional users. Apple even banned the fart apps.
2011: With both the iPad and MIDI available, developers brought us some amazing soft-synths at unbelievably low prices. $5 could net you either Sunrizer or Arctic Keys, both of which would have easily cost over $100 as VSTs. Now everyone took notice; the iPad was the most affordable way to make music. MIDI was now an expectation, and Virtual MIDI was becoming standardized. Beyond emulating vintage analog synthesizers, we began to see developers bring us entirely new ways to play in apps like TC-11.
2012: With the market saturated by classic emulations, developers realized they had to start innovating. There were some additional, and worthy, virtual analog synths like Magellan, but we also saw entirely new, complex, synths like Cassini. Experimental apps like Werkbench and BitWiz pushed creative boundaries. Others, like Samplr, explored traditional methods with new interface designs that took advantage of multi-touch in creative ways. Last year was capped with the release of Audiobus, an important step towards unifying our music making apps.
2013: There are 30 apps on iTunes now with Audiobus support, and the SDK is still only available on an invitational basis. When that is released into the wild the possibilities will be endless. Even apps that fall outside of the norm, or are even categorized as music apps, have contacted the Audiobus team with their interest. There is no way to predict what we will see this year, but it is a fair bet that Audiobus will be an important part of future development; in the same way that MIDI and the iPad itself was.
Let's start some rampant speculation! What do you hope to see in 2013?