Supposedly this computer and the idea of a QWERTY keyboard are dead, but you may have to pry them each out of someone’s cold, dead fingers in order to get them back. Photo (CC-BY) Tobias Carlsson.

The question of whether there will ever be any music apps for any non-iOS mobile platform is apparently bothering some people. (I don’t just mean one Synthtopia post, either – James is asking a perfectly reasonable question. But in the larger tech world, some people even wonder whether there’s any need for competition at all. And on the future of Android, without naming any names, I got one query from a print music tech mag – we’ll see how I’m quoted.)

Of course, there’s good reason to ask who which platform will “win” – once one platform is dominant, there are never any others ever again. Really. That’s what happened with the Commodore 64, once it hit two million units per year and became the most dominant single model of PC in history. (Look it up, kids, or ask your Mom and Dad. Or Goo… um, Commodore it. Or ask a chip music artist, as they might actually not find this ironic, which I find oddly comforting) But I don’t have to tell you that, as I’m sure you’re using a Commodore right now. Except for Chris Randall, who’s using an Apple II, but that’s just because he’s an Apple II fanboy. Come on, Chris. Get over yourself and get a Commodore like everyone else. The Apple doesn’t even have a decent synth chip.

It’s a relief that platforms win, in this way, because it means for developers, once you’ve found one platform, you’ll never wind up having to deal with the headaches of another. Not that any such headaches exist, of course – cross-platform development and testing is fun, like munching on cotton candy. Okay… irony filter off.

I made a plea, when the iPad came out, for certain ideas – like advocating open development, open source software, content creation and not just consumption, standard ports (USB, MIDI), and competition in how you get content like magazines, music, and media. I was far from alone in interest in these things, and a lot of people – some at Apple, some at Apple competitors, some developers, some users, some journalists – have built stuff that makes each one of those areas better, on Apple platforms and on non-Apple platforms.

I think that’s what we’re here to do – not carry the flag for one company or platform or another, but argue for ideas. We shouldn’t agree on all those ideas, or it’d be a really boring discussion. But one reason to focus on ideas and not just platforms is, I don’t think platforms last. (My first computer was a PCjr. My first gaming platform was a ColecoVision. I’m sorry I didn’t get a tattoo of one. The tattoo, at least, would have aged well.)

The iPad 2 and software for it looks very cool. I’m happy just to get to know some of the people who worked on elements of it, and I’m sure they’re rightfully really proud of what they’ve done. Apple is a unique company with unique talent that makes some unique products. I think 2011 will also be a good year for other technology, too, though, and from hardware synths to other tablets to computers, I’m talking about things actually hitting the market, not in some hypothetical future. Some of it will be crap, naturally, but some won’t. It’s what isn’t crap that matters.

The point is, great engineering and great ideas outlast platforms. That’s why you can still use the same basic synthesis concepts used on the first computer synth today with Csound, half a century later, or patch with Pd using skills you learned 15 years ago and run on just about anything with a processor – including all these devices people are arguing about. You could write a great app for the iPad 2 using programming skills from 20 years ago or math skills from grade school. So… enjoy. Technology moves fast, but music — and thought — don’t have to.

And if parts of this seem silly to me when I look back at my writing next week or in a year or in ten years? Well, that’s probably a good thing; that means I probably improved with time, too.

If you’d like to contribute to the marketplace of ideas, you may do so in the comment space below. Just, if you’re thinking of trolling or getting into platform fan speak, remember…

PS, if you think this is somehow a jab at Apple or anti-Apple or anti-iPad or pro-Android or pro-open-source, you really, really, really, really weren’t paying attention.

  • http://www.aimtroncorporation.com Jason Duerr

    I read in awe, as my commodore collection is near my feet, as is my dog.

  • zvukofor

    And now, even more than year before, we need a really good one MIDI sequencer, Ableton-style. For iOS. Why to bother to make another sound source?! It is all about the CONTROL over instruments we already have. It would be a perfect solution just to plug iPad to any HW synth on a gig to play it live, like we used to use old HW sequencers.

    We've got multitouch for cheap one year ago, then we've got MIDI support for it, so it is time to throw away laptops in MIDI sequencers area, just because multitouch at notation and sequencing brings it back to the physical way we used to communicate with our instruments.

  • TOny

    I will never make music on an iPad. Ever. I will take that statement to my death bed.  If no music apps come for other tablets, then I will never make music on a tablet.  

  • zvukofor

    smell like high F-factor.

    I don't give a huck who manufactured this device, apple/shmapple, if it works — that's great. No funny label stuff. I'm a musician, not an electrostuff consumer, i just want an instrument that works well and costs low.

  • peter

    This is the kind of thinking that, on a different technical level, has made me take a break from making Bidule patches and go back to doing things "by hand" with a drum machine and Ableton. It felt more important to explore ideas than to attempt to develop a system to capture them. With art, I feel you can fake it until you make it, because there's no difference – art for me is something that isn't confined by a system.

    On the other hand, a lot of people choose to play within systems, and Apple's app concept bothers me on a cultural level, because it feeds into a tendency to not question the way things work. Things might appear to be technical limitations, when they are in fact business decisions; does a particular app not work because the hardware can't support it, or because it was censored? As an artist I say work within any system you want and subvert it, but as a consumer open-source stuff makes me feel like I'm voting for the good guys.

  • Radiophobic

    If there ends up being a dominant tablet for making music, it won't be apple. Unless they include the ability for people to sell something modular like vst plugins in the app store, which I doubt is going to happen, ever. 

    I think that ohm force really have a good idea with their cloud based collaborative DAW. That IS the future of digital composition, not one function applications that you need a clipboard workaround to use the sounds you make in another application. 

  • http://www.synthtopia.com James Lewin

    This may be platform fan speak, but……

    Before anybody makes a new sequencer on any platform, they need to check out Dr T's Keyboard Controlled Sequencer for the C64 and get their mind blown. 

  • Peter Kirn

    @James: Good call. Speaking of which, does anyone know if there's an emulator that'll run Dr. T KCS? (Maybe even on the iPad… hmmm…)

  • http://www.onereddog.com.au Peter Johnson

    Try here&nbsp ;http://tamw.atari-users.net/omega.htm with a possible ST emulator, STeem maybe, haven't tried.

  • http://lsdprogramming.com Cyberspace

    It's mostly about making tools to help people create. It's about making music respond to human touch, rather than plugging numbers and checking boxes.

    These platforms make it easy for creative developers to make something that will live in harmony with the music devices that are already available to us.

    We do exist, we do make the tools.

    Check LSD programming's app that turns your mac's multitouch trackpad into a multitouch midi controller:&nbsp ;http://www.lsdprogramming.com/trackmaster/

    Should be on the store for 99 cents tomorrow if the approval process goes smooth. Next update will even have the ability to play notes like a piano.

  • http://www.temporubato.com temporubato

    I highly support the statement that great ideas & engineering outlast platforms.

    However, getting your software platform independent is some decent amount of work. Bigger companies like Steinberg, Ableton etc. did this exercise and were able to found this. They may eventually go also to iOS (maybe in their labs it is already running.)

    Now, why don't we have their stuff on

    Linux? Technically no problem (maybe they

    have even this in their labs), but they seem

    not willing to support Linux. Why? And why most audio interface vendors are not porting their device drivers to Linux?

    iPads & co. have a great OS, capable CPUs

    and a fantastic touch interface. But silly

    audio hardware, silly ports, which maybe

    C64 is still better equipped with ;-)

    It is strange, that people are now paying 50 bucks and more for simple pre-amp devices for connecting their guitars & co. to iPads. 

    A first step to push Android for music would

    be to overtake iOS at the interface side. So,

    who is willing to do a pro audio/midi interface for Android? Even better, just take

    the existing ones you are selling to MAC users and write a device driver for Android.

    There is no need to have different equipment.

    Havent looked into 3.0 yet, but from a software side, Google only needs to provide a low level audio callback, The rest is there: Native C/C++ coding including assembler & SMID/Vector extensions like NEON and high speed graphics including openGL.

    On the hardware side there is too much fragmentation of device configs. So, you have to exclude some hardware. There is some control offered in the marketplace for this, but not enough. A good example are devices with limited number of multi touches.

    In a nutshell, I don't think Android is dead

    for music, but a little is missing (maybe after looking into 3.0 I start development ;-)

    But still, Android may have a fate like Linux for music: Quite capable, but except open source like Pd and academic soft like CSound etc., not many apps.

    I have no clue ;-)

  • http://Www.holotropik.com Holotropik

    The show has only just started…off to a good start mind you :)

    Android risks death by fragmentation

    Apple risks stagnation via too much control

    But it's early days and the tech is evolving fast along with OS that are more efficient.

    Ramble, ramble, ramble.

    Good article :)

  • Jesse

    Thanks for the article Peter. It's 2:30 in the morning and I've been up looking at a very expensive laptop that might have just come out (no names of course…), but it's helpful to remember that the technology is there to serve me, not the other way around. It's not about what you have, it's about what you do with it, and that can always be easy to forget, it's nice to remember once in a while, What DO I want to do with it?

  • http://www.hispasonic.com Mudo

    Hi Peter,

    We have this situation:

    Technology going faster in new platforms.

    Software trying to fit in all the platforms.

    Software companies like apple or google for OSs and like ableton or serato for finish (sometimes) apps.

    Open source community developers without fund and "still in process" (sometime finished) apps.

    Users without dev knowledge.

    Users with dev knowledge without funds.

    Users semi full time dev with funds and without time to make music.

    etc…

    Sadly but fund (money) is the keyword.

    pd: open source integrists who reject work for closed solutions are responsive to create "ghettos" when exclude regular users with interest in music not in dev.

    Developing or supporting open source is a ethic position but everyone of us need to pay bills.

    To me the solution will be around private funding for open solutions like ubuntu but then we have the issue about "source of money" (in the case of ubuntu Mr. Shuttleworth verisign certificates aka verichip and Big Brother).

    Apple is a Big Brother too but sometimes things are a bit more complex than they seem.

    Sources:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Shuttleworth

    http://complianceandprivacy.com/News-VeriChip-con

    Sorry about "conspiracy" off-topic. ;)

  • Kim

    Atari St had midi in and out built in and MTV still played music. sigh

  • loopstationzebra

    People whining about Apple and the iPad but meanwhile every single non Apple tablet I've tried 1. Has a positively WRETCHED user experience and 2. the MIDI implemention is DREADFUL.

    Whether or not the Xoom or whatever is 1000x more powerful is besides the point entirely. ffs.

    Here's an article from last May. Little has changed.

    http://blog.umito.nl/index.php/2010/05/07/midi-on

    lol.

  • loopstationzebra

    I'll go to whatever platform or Cultural Big Brother App Store Control Model or Huge Giantic Corporation offers the smoothest, easiest, most painless music creation experience. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, that's Apple and the iPad.

    Motorola and Google are more than welcome to step up to the plate and try to lure me away. I'll wait.

    And wait.

    And wait…..

  • Peter Kirn

    @loopstationzebra: I have to step in here, because that article is misinformed. It's basically a Java developer whining that they don't have Java's (wildly inferior, in my opinion) MIDI libraries. You'll note by the end he ultimately answers his own question. (Hint: he could also build a sequencer this way. And even working with Core MIDI, you're going to have to do a lot of what he's describing anyway if you build a sequencer, including "learn C/C++")

    We have MIDI running in libpd – Peter Brinkmann even went as far as doing a Bluetooth MIDI implementation. 

    The only thing Android is missing is hardware MIDI compatibility, which is unfortunate, because it's already in the Linux kernel. 

    I'm waiting to get my hands on with Honeycomb, but I know people don't find the user experience "dreaful." And a lot has changed since that article in May, including native audio support and a better NDK.

    It's extraordinary that iOS has Core MIDI, and I would be surprised to see anyone else invest like that, as I said in the GarageBand story yesterday. But it's important to be aware that a lot of what you hear about these platforms is technically inaccurate. 

    It may not change the platform you choose, but I think it's worth getting technically-accurate information in place of misinformation.

    I'm going to work with those platforms I can afford and for which I have time, because I find I constantly learn things, whether they do everything well or not. That includes Android and iOS, and keeping my main production machine a "desktop"-class laptop.

  • http://www.ghmetcalfe.com Graham

    "The Apple doesn’t even have a decent synth chip." That's why he's upgrading soon to the //GS

  • loopstationzebra

    Oh my.

    You truly make it seem as though the only thing holding back the Android platform is MIDI hardware compatibility. As if there weren't a slew of other issues ranging from the problems inherent to open source (choices choices choices! lol), to low latency audio.

    Low latency audio is a huge issue.

    http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id

    The reason that we haven't seen near the explosion of music apps for the Andoid OS isn't just because they are playing catch up. It's because of a whole host of issues.

    The best quote in that thread? Easy. "I develop music production apps for iOS. If I were selfish, I would want Google to keep egregiously floundering as they have been with low latency audio. It is MUCH easier to focus on one platform and I feel comfortable to develop for iOS exclusively thanks to this colossal lack of foresight. The CoreAudio team at Apple knows what they are doing and soon Google will be 3 or more years behind. It is entirely possible that the Android team just doesn't understand this issue at all — this is sad — it doesn't just effect the music production market, it has an adverse effect on the obviously larger gaming market as well. I won't speak about VoiP markets, as Android carriers probably would like to see them fail."

    Why not write up an article on the state of music creation on the Android platform? If the platform is so solid and robust, I certainly can't find any evidence outside of your post. lol

  • Peter Kirn

    Issue 3434 is full of technical inaccuracy and should be ignored. It also predates some major changes to the platform, including (specifically) native access to audio APIs via the NDK.

    Like I said, I'm not carrying the banner for any platform. I think a frank appraisal of developing for Android would be useful, but now isn't the time – I'm waiting for a) hands-on access to Honeycomb and b) deployment to devices of the updated audio APIs (native access and OpenML)

    But don't believe everything you read on the Internet.

  • Michael Coelho

    This makes me wish I still had my old C64 and Amiga. Ah, Pinball Construction Set and Archon on the C64. I don't really get this whole "I hate the iPad" movement. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but why whine about it? Commodore had its day. I didn’t shed tears when I moved on to the PC platform. Companies and platforms come and go, but technology marches on. While I have an iPad and enjoy it, I don't do much music making on it. I've bought several music apps and played with them and enjoyed them, but I still find them to be a novelty. Once midi support finds its way into programs like MorphWIz, I may change my mind. If the apps weren’t relatively inexpensive, I probably wouldn’t buy them. I do use the iPad for a lot of other purposes, mostly reading oriented. I don’t bother bringing my laptop with me when I travel anymore. I can keep up with email and the web just fine on my iPad and back up my photos to it using the camera connection kit.  My music making takes place primarily on Windows and Apple computers and while I prefer Apple products, I don’t evangelize for them. With 15 million iPads sold in the first year, Apple must have gotten something right. Competition is what drives product development. I want other platforms to succeed so that Apple is forced to try to keep ahead of them. Okay, I’m done rambling on.

  • http://www.musicwords.net Jim Aikin

    I will cheerfully admit to being an old-fashioned guy. Music interests me. Having a computer music system that's stable and powerful is a necessity. But shoehorning the system into a smaller form-factor — why bother? Carting a laptop to a gig is not a big problem, is it?

    My suspicion is that a lot of the excitement and controversy over the prospect of music software for these new mini-platforms is driven by technology lust, not by a need for more or better music-making power.

  • http://www.musicwords.net Jim Aikin

    @James: Assuming you're not being ironic about KCS … I used KCS quite a lot, back in the day, and I'd love to see a new app that employed its more interesting features. OTOH, it would be entirely feasible to build a useful constellation of those features using QuteCsound, and as an added bonus you'd get audio! Building a real-time MIDI track recorder into Csound would be a bit of a programming challenge, but I'm sure it could be done.

  • jonah

    @Jim Aikin&nbsp ;http://uisoftware.com/XX/ ?? Never used KCS, but looking at the site it It seems to do some similar neat things? I signed up for their news letter and it's $80 til the 5th. Demoing now, seems cool.

    Even though they are before my time I like the look of those old interfaces. I find it's easy to get in the zone. As a bonus they actually look better on lcds without distortion, but could maybe use some pixel doubling.  I wonder if there's a skin I can put on renoise….

  • http://www.musicwords.net Jim Aikin

    @Jonah — Could be similar in some ways. KCS had an algorithmic pattern generator (for which, in fact, I wrote the manual). What I don't see, looking at the ui/XX web page, is any mention of real-time interactive performance. In KCS, you could start and stop sequences with QWERTY keys — and sequences could start, stop, and transpose one another using meta-events.

  • StopBeingInDenial

    I have nothing against Android. I do not have the opinion that there should only be one dominant platform. In fact, competition is an amazing thing for the marketplace. Great for consumers.

    However, you Android lovers need to realize, and realize FAST: Google doesn't give a shit about audio, audio latency, MIDI, or real-time thread performance. Not only do they not give a shit, they also do not have the people do get the job done. Nobody in their company has the talent to solve these problems. At Apple, not only do they have an entire team devoted to CoreMIDI, an entire team devoted to the wonderful CoreAudio, but they also have an entire team devoted to making music apps. Apple cares about music. The only extent that Google cares about music is figuring out some way to sell it to you for you to consume.

    They hire Java, JavaScript and HTML engineers. They make sure their ads display real nice for everyone to see. They don't have audio-specific engineers. The first time they may have considered hiring these people is after Apple's keynote and announcement of GarageBand on the iPad.

    As stated above, what should matter to a musician is what works. Which is what Peter's original article is (from what I understood) really about. At least I hope that is what it's about. Sure the iPad platform might not be the dominant one forever, but it is. So Peter, get over it. You are fighting for people who really don't care about you or what you want. 

    The thing is, Peter kind of insinuates that something magic will happen in the next 10 years, and Google will suddenly care about audio and out of the blue Android will be an acceptable musician's platform. Sorry, but it's not going to happen. By that time, Apple will have swallowed up any musician who wants to do something with a tablet. I'll re-iterate this again. I hope you understand: GOOGLE. DOES. NOT. CARE. ABOUT. AUDIO.

    But hey, Peter, can't you just download the Android source and add JACK yourself? I mean, it is open right?? RIGHT? Can't you do something about it? Can't all the pd hackers just commit some source that fixes ALL of android's problems? *rolls eyes*

  • StopBeingInDenial

    "don't believe everything you read on the internet" -peter

    OK, if this were being reported by some news organization, fine. Or some random forum with people complaining, fine. State the obvious. But we are talking about a thread in the Android developer forums. Where people actually, you know, report bugs. And Android developers respond. Like the following:

    "Thanks for the input. That is something to look into, but I don´t think your suggestion alone makes Android competitive. Please see the requirements list in this Bug Report."

    I think that says a lot.

  • Peter Kirn

    I'm not in denial. It's technically wrong. You want to talk about how Android lags Apple – on a device by device basis – hell, yes, it does, and we can go into why. But that particular bug report is full of misinformation. The very fact that it conflates "low latency" with the NDK, which ignores the fact that firmware and audio hardware are a big source of latency, shows the person who wrote it doesn't know what the f*** they're talking about.

    Got it?

  • StopBeingInDenial

    Fighting for good audio in Android is like voting for the communist party in America come election time.

    Yeah, there might be a revolution in 100-300 years, but it ain't gonna happen now so stop wasting your time.

  • StopBeingInDenial

    OK, the original bug reporter might not understand *why* there is a problem, but if you know anything about software development then you would know a bug is all about the *outcome* or *results* of a bug. The bug is not why it's happening, the bug is that it exists in the first place. It's the Android developers job to fix that. The reasons behind it are completely moot.

  • Peter Kirn

    Actually, I'm very sorry I responded; I hadn't seen your comments above. You didn't read the article, you hijacked the comment thread, you cited misleading and inaccurate bug reports and blog reports, and then you put words into my mouth.

    I didn't say any of the things to which you're attributing me in regards to Android as a platform, and in some cases said the precise opposite. I think I've been pretty vocal about some of my frustrations, and I've spent a lot of time covering where I think Apple and software developers are getting it right.

    In answer to the latency question: not everything is in the hands of the developers "of Android." Audio latency is a side-effect of many dimension, including hardware itself, the firmware for that hardware, and features of the application. The OS is one part of that. The features the bug reporter in this case asked for – native audio access and the ability to request low-latency behavior – have both been added to the platform. The fact that that doesn't necessarily solve all your problems on *all* hardware speaks to the above problem.

  • Randy

    I'm ready to buy a tablet, just wanted to make that clear. All I need is for someone to actually create the perfect tablet for me. I just need to combine the open-ness of the Motorola Xoom with the apps of the iPad and there it will be. A realistically-priced Xoom with MIDI and some apps, or an iPad with the ability to drag and drop from my main computer, USB connection and SD Card. Should be easy, right?

  • http://noisepages.com/members/richardl/ Richard Lawler

    @Randy – You can jailbreak an iPad. That goes a long way towards what you want. But there is a big cost in terms of convenience (software updates and such). 

  • Peter Kirn

    Yeah, Randy, I feel your pain, but for now it's one or the other, generally. I do think Xoom is capable of what you're describing, with the exception – for now – of hardline MIDI. (Bluetooth MIDI is possible.) As for apps, well, I only know that we'll be working on making Pd easier to use on Android and iOS both.

  • Randy

    Richard and Peter, thanks for your replies. Funny thing is my semi-real reason for wanting a tablet right now is mostly to use as a virtual fakebook. I could load all of my images, Word docs, PDF files and whatever else, and take all of my music with me without carrying around all sorts of books and binders. I just figured if I'm going to end up with something anyways, it might as well sub as a small recording platform, MIDI module and MIDI controller. I could of course get a laptop as Jim suggested (Jim Aikin, wow!) but I really think tablets are going to be "the next big thing." Richard, jailbreaking is an option, if I end up with an iPad I'll be sure to try that. A friend picked up a Nook Colour from Barnes and Noble and boots up a full Android OS from the SD Card, could be an interesting option but the Nook is a bit small to use as a fakebook.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Randy: Actually, that's very exciting to me, and I'd really like to play around with some of the browser-based notation tools. It shouldn't be hard to whip up a little native app for each platform, and for the browser. Someone I met at an Android developer conference had done just that.

    Having Lilypond would be even more amazing…

    I don't see any reason all of these tools shouldn't be able to do simple notation. I'd want it in that format not for any philosophical marriage to open source, but because as a composer, I've grown tired of being dependent on proprietary tools. I don't want to need a serial number to open a score. Collaborative editing on tablets to me would just be huge…

  • http://www.ghmetcalfe.com Graham

    "But shoehorning the system into a smaller form-factor — why bother? Carting a laptop to a gig is not a big problem, is it?" Jim Aiken

    I don't think that's really the point (or the whole point anyway). I think the excitement with tablet computing is the higher degree of user interaction enabled by the multitouch display. I know that now that I have been using my iPad a lot, I find myself reaching up for my screen when working on my computer to adjust things in the interface. The ability to directly "touch" the interface is a very powerful metaphor.

  • Anonymous Coward

    To paraphrase maddox from "the best page in the universe:" I know technology that's even more advanced than the touch screen, allowing you to actually feel the keys you press as you're pressing them! The technology is called "tactile response," and it allows you to do things like dial a phone number without staring at your screen like a shit-chucking ape. 

    Just saying…

  • http://noisepages.com/members/papernoise/ Hanzo

    If there is one thing I have always liked about how you write, Peter, it's your ability to balance between the geeky-gear talk and the more intellectual music-talk. I mean this will full sincerity, since I start to be really bugged by all the empty gear-porn talk.

    So I perfectly agree with your point, it's about ideas, and maybe also about ideals, I would add.

    One distinction, though should be made. The C64 (as many other devices, like the TR303 for instance) became a cult because of their distinctive sound, and because they represent a certain technological and artistic attitude. They became a cult because of their peculiar sonic personality. The iPad as any other touch based device is devoid of such qualities, and will be. It's the same reason a PS3 will never be the NES of tomorrow (musc-wise) and the Roland JV-1080 will never become a cult as the MS-20, they all lack that certain personality in the sound.

    So what is the interesting thing about touch based portable devices? As many people have already pointed out: it's the capability of touching stuff directly, which in turn is also the biggest disadvantage they have right now.

    Electronic music has always been struggling with the concept of performance and control. The first synths were only offering little means of expression, things have been improved with time, but we still miss the direct, physical control you can have for example with a guitar, or a drum. We now live in the excitement of something that promises to give us just that. But right now it's still all promise, we're not really there yet, but probably this is the most exiting phase in the whole process, because now we are still permitted to dream, to imagine a perfect world, where the perfect instrument is at our disposal. I guess now is the time to make our voice heard, because it could be listened to.

    So what would the perfect use for a touch based device be? In my opinion it's not about creating the perfect virtual DAW, it's more to create a usable, programmable, electronic instrument, with a user definable touch-based interface.

    Right now synths permit you to define many parameters of the way the sound is created and modulated, but you are bound to use the device following its physical form (i.e. you have to use the keys, the knobs more or as they are). Now what about an instrument you can choose not only the sound parameters, but also the way to control it. And use these on a touch screen with tactile feedback… we'd have a nearly perfect electronic instrument I guess…

    Nearly I say, because we'd still miss the good old knob sometimes…

    My opinion is one tecnology does not come to replace the old one, but add something to it. That's why I still use a C64 beneath a laptop, beneath an iPhone…

  • Andy

    There will be no competition to Apple's monopoly, until Alesis, Korg, Yamaha, Roland, Nord, or Casio makes an open Android tablet dedicated to music production. I'm thinking built in midi, audio, and usb ports.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/papernoise/ Hanzo

    oh and btw. why is everybody still talking about midi? I mean, this could be the right moment to have the industry switch to OSC! If only OSC was a bit more clear in it's standards…

  • Random Chance

    I've read the post twice, and still have no idea what the message is. I had a feeling that it's none of the things that the postscript claims it ain't. But what about the non-crappy things being the things that matter? How about the 303 then, the epitome of crap when it was first released? Or technologies that were dead for a while and then became popular and maybe even successful again?

    I don't worry about the world coming to an end. There will always be another platform, if perhaps we won't have a situation in which a handful or more wildly different platforms competed in the computer industry (that's what you're talking about, I guess) from supercomputers to mainframes to minicomputers to micros down to pocket calculators (remember HP calculators?). So many great architectures, tools, ideas, programming languages, development environments, etc. lost and forgotten. The world is not flat (e.g. like a tablet), but three dimensional, you gotta rise out of the plane of mediocrity and timidity to create something truely great. What we're witnissing right now is "merely" perfection of ideas that are very old already. Approaching SciFi so to speak. And we still haven't built a base on the Moon, we still haven't sent people to Mars, and we don't have a smooth talking highly intelligent but emotionally unstable computer that does the grunt work for us. That's what I "worry" about.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Random Chance: Nope, I agree with you, that's the point. To me, asking who's going to win or which platform to choose isn't the most important question to ask. That's all I'm saying. And there are so many other questions to ask, like some of yours.

    I'd argue, though, that ideas don't have to be lost, so long as they're transmitted. And actually, the same is now true of programming languages – made more so with things like open compilers (which is where the "GNU" thing really is important, now on just about any OS, not just Linux). These things can evolve, but they don't have to become extinct.

  • exatari

    Raising passionate debate about competing technologies/platforms just show us that we will continue to want better. I am glad to be dazzled by iOS then completely blown away how Android's Navigation GPS implementation from a UI perspective smokes anything i have on my itouch for usability. No one could touch Google Maps then I was shocked to see how Bing Maps … um thats Microsoft, really?, introduced birds eye perspective and auto-view based on zoom levels that uses street level 3d mapping that makes Google or Google Earth look flat and so 2005. I cant wait for thicker tablets, thinner tablets, tablets with usb 3 ports and tablets with built in xbox kinect cameras….and I cant wait 'til Apple bites the bullet and allows that horrible app called Flash on their iOS. : )

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, I'll say this – I think as a writer sometimes you have to force yourself to use more technology than is comfortable, more than is normal, to examine it on a deeper level, and to constantly play devil's advocate with yourself. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming lazy and losing objectivity. (Guilty as charged, right here.)

    Music – and not platforms per se – are my primary obligation, and I still see that in how I relate to this stuff myself. I get frustrated when I see writers who seem to be accepting what they're told – and I'm equally, doubly gratified when I see writers think independently, because I know how challenging it is to live with all this tech and stay objective. I hope we get more of that kind of discussion. I think there are user experience things Google does that are brilliant; I think there are UX things Apple does from time to time that are bone-headed. The reverse is of course true, too. But yeah, I see this attitude that the general public won't care, because they're not geeks. Heck, yes – they shouldn't have to be geeks. But some of us *are* the geeks. We ought to be able to find a way to let our geek brain analyze how these things work, but also to empathize with how other people from a variety of backgrounds might use the technology.

  • http://fallsastar.com Crashproof

    It's funny how much people worry about "fragmentation" with Android and praise Apple for having a one OS = one device (almost) system.

    "PCs" as they wound up being called, running Microsoft's OSs, are the most "fragmented" platform ever.  People never talk about that as a disadvantage, though.  The other word for "fragmented" is "diverse."  It's the "fragmentation" that keeps the hardware costs down and consumer choice high.

    I'm pretty much anti-Apple.  I won't buy an iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc.  They cost twice as much as their competitors, and a year later they are obsolete.  Apple OS upgrades basically exist only to drive hardware sales, and features are left out intentionally so they can provide them later as an incentive to buy more junk.

    On a more practical note, there is nothing I can do musically with an iPad that I can't do better on my PC, aside from covering the screen in grease.

  • Kent

    I'm about as far from being an Apple fanboi as one could get, but I have to hand it to them. The performance and ergonomics and all around ENTHUSIASM around their touch os platform is nothing short of amazing. Their corporate and store-front culture nauseates me to no end, but they GOT IT RIGHT. I've played with some android apps and they (and the interface they run on) just don't compare.

    I'm also not seeing the lack of innovation or freedom on the part of developers. Multitrack DAW and NanoStudio are 2 examples of ground-breaking apps that blow my mind utterly with how great they sound, how innovative they are and how nicely the iOS interface makes them possible on a form factor as small as an ipod touch. Amazing.

    NOTHING I have seen on Android qualifies as amazing in any way. It's open-ness is exciting, but I already blew my enthusiasm for that with Linux back in the day. 15 years later and Ardour, while magnificent in it's own right, still can't do midi (any day now, I know). I forsee the same with Android.

    I want to do stuff, musical stuff, and I want it to work smoothly, be fun and I want options. Apple has given us that in spades.

    Apple gambled a lot on this and that gamble has seriously paid off. Kudos to them.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Kent: I'm actually not challenging any of that. On the contrary, I think it's compatible with what I'm saying – for music, it's the blood, sweat, and tears of people working on audio and MIDI support on this device, against, really, even normal business logic (we hardly represent average tablet buyers) that have given it this clear leadership position.

    I wouldn't discount some of the options on Linux for the same reason, though … but that's the thing, it's not a war, you don't have to choose signs or be a fanboy of anything. You should absolutely be motivated by what works for you as a musician and nothing else. 

  • http://noisepages.com/members/nosuchtim/ Tim Thompson

    I think there’s a big difference (historically, currently, and for the forseeable future) between a music production platform and a musical instrument and musical controller platform.  In the past couple decades we’ve been inclined to use a single platform to serve these different purposes.  Now we have platforms with particular features that make them better-suited to particular uses, and we no longer have to lump all activities into one platform.

  • TJ

    I'm a little surprised how many people seem to think that tablets are going to be a central component in music-making anytime soon.

    It's great that Apple has invested on the people and programs to give it real credibility. But how many serious EM-makers are going to move away from all their other gear and great software to a TABLET? I've been around EM for a long time, and seriously: you can't be serious.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/substrain/ substrain

    @TJ: "But how many serious EM-makers are going to move away from all their other gear and great software to a TABLET?"

    Probably way more than you think. The new Gorillaz album was recorded on an iPad. Anyway, I don't really see anyone saying that it will be THE central component of their setup. But I think it's going to have more impact than you think.

  • Dynamique

    Of course there's need for competition! There always is. (Even more if we're talking about Apple…)

  • @v@nt

    The return of the Commodore 64

    (My new digital Synth.)

    The hard part isn't building the computer: Sticking modern components inside a shell shaped like an old Commodore 64 is no great challenge. Neither was matching the price of the original: It cost $595 then, and the "basic" config costs $595 now. No, the hard part is getting the color right. Enthusiasts would know if it was off. But there was a problem: Pantone doesn't have a match for "Commodore 64 tan."

    To read more my friends, check out http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/04/11/6