Way back at the Apple iPhone introduction, I said I thought people would want to use the phone as a musical instrument. Well, here you go: meet BeatPhone, a clever code hack from a chilled-out Spanish mobile musician. Feature set:
- 9 one-shot pads
- 6 loop-pads
- Samples in “any” format : WAV, AIFF, …
- Output at 44.1kHz, 16-bits
- Up to 256 samples polyphony
The project will be open, and more cool features are planned:
- Strudder pads (stop previous playback and start again)
- Metronome, BPM detection on “tap”
- Loop stretching
- Record samples and live mixes
- Landscape sequencer
- Tactile effect box
Updated: There appears to be unrelated project called MPC500, which at least has a pretty, iPhone-style interface. Of course, it function as an MPC about as much as those cardboard cutouts of the iPhone do a real phone. But more music apps are promised. (Thanks, Steve! Now, when will people start doing more multi-touch?)
Interesting, though of course none of this is new on mobile devices; Palm and Windows Mobile phones have a broad variety of music applications, with mobile Linux and Java I expect on their way — and those makers actually let you install applications. That’s not to take away from BeatPhone’s general coolness.
There’s just one problem. If anything should go wrong with your iPhone, under Apple’s warranty terms if you’re running third-party apps, you’ve got no warranty, meaning you could have a:
Sorry, couldn’t resist. In fairness, Apple wanted to block people from unlocking iPhones and using them on TMobile. In my ideal world, phones would come unlocked, but that is their prerogative. But is killing all app development really necessary? Don’t we have Sony when we need mobile devices with updates that break homebrew software? Do we need Apple, too, the company that gave us Apple II and Mac, two developer-friendly platforms?
Even given those setbacks — maybe even more impressive because of them — it’s clear coding custom tools for your own gear, after a long hiatus, is back for good. If manufacturers get hip to the DIY developer, they could build terrific new devices.
iPhone owners, do let us know if you try this out. I’m sure you can shoot better video (see after the jump). But me, I’ll keep ogling that Palm Centro and waiting for it to ship.
Check out this glitchy video: