Let's ... have ... a party! Because there are new OSes from Apple! Sorry, we can't really illustrate things like an updated Core Audio just yet. Stay tuned. We look forward to the day when you're taking selfies at your bluetooth MIDI jams. Image courtesy Apple.

Let’s … have … a party! Because there are new OSes from Apple! Sorry, we can’t really illustrate things like an updated Core Audio just yet. Stay tuned. We look forward to the day when you’re taking selfies at your bluetooth MIDI jams. Image courtesy Apple.

Watching new operating systems is always a potent mix of “what new treats will we get?” and “what are they going to break?” Fortunately in this case, it seems Apple is mostly crossing items off users’ and developers’ wish lists on both iOS and OS X, though further details will come in coming developer sessions. Now, those are under NDA, but the wait for public information is unlikely to be long, now that Apple has announced a public beta of OS X Yosemite and an aggressive release schedule for both OS X and iOS 8.

We also know a lot now.

For developers. We know there are some fancy new toolkits (Metal, SceneKit) for graphics – some of which are likely to make creative 3D visual programming more accessible and higher-performance. That should translate to some interesting new creative audiovisual apps and woo at least some digital artists to Apple platforms. And Apple’s new Swift programming language takes the performance of Objective-C but brings it more modern features. There’s even an interactive Playground that offers live feedback and live coding. (TechCrunch has a good write-up.)

That’s already big news: for the first time, Apple’s own platform starts to look like a creative coding environment, one in which the prototype or artistic idea can also become production code.

For musicians and developers. Apple kept parts of the schedule under wraps until the end of the WWDC keynote. Much of this is to do with new APIs for notifications, data, cloud services, and the aforementioned visual goodies.

But Core Audio is, as rumored, getting an update, too. From the (public-facing, non-NDA) session description:

See what’s new in Core Audio for iOS and OS X. Be introduced to the powerful new APIs for managing audio buffers, files, and data formats. Learn how to incorporate views to facilitate switching between inter-app audio apps on iOS. Take an in depth look at how to tag Audio Units and utilize MIDI over Bluetooth LE.

So, improved inter-app audio is of course welcome, and we get a clue as to what changes are coming to the Core Audio plumbing on which our music-making apps rely on Apple OSes.

Bluetooth MIDI is also interesting to users. MIDI over Bluetooth is possible today, so it’s unclear what Apple is adding. But with more convenient support, we could see scenarios like:

1. Connecting a Bluetooth-based MIDI accessory (like a portable keyboard or drum pad) to an iPad or iPhone or Mac. On mobile devices, in particular, that makes far more sense than a cable – cables kill the mobility of the device, they often require extra adapter hardware, and they can take up ports needed for sound or power.

2. More easily pairing a mobile controller to a Mac. WiFi does this now, but with a greater power draw and some complexity in connection – and we’ll have to see how performance is doing in the new Apple implementations.

3. Wireless connections for music and sync between devices – mobile to mobile, between computer and iPad, iPad and iPad, iPhone and iPhone, and so on.

(and various other combinations, of course…) We saw lots of Bluetooth MIDI hacks at the MIDI Hack Day in Stockholm; it’ll be great to see more support for this format. And that means we’ll need to do more testing of latency and connection ease.

  • Samuele Cornell

    Just wondering … what about audio stream over usb ? It would be great , but i am unsure if it is possible .

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      That’s possible on iOS 7. ;) But yes, curious what has and hasn’t changed here.

  • http://flexyvoid.com/ Yanakyl

    I was speaking to a guy from soundmachines a couple of weeks ago, he told me that with their radiostar module they have lower bluetooth latencies on android than iOS.
    Somthing like 5 ms vs 30ms, I don’t remember the figures. I wonder if it’s an OS thing or antenna things, like doing TDM for what is using the antenna(wifi, bluetooth, etc…)
    New API for audio buffers and files???? I am curious…

    • soundmachines

      Hi there! Figures are 7ms for Android and 19ms for iOS.
      This is not the “latency”, which is lower (we measured 2 to 4ms at worst) but the minimum time between packets. In our application (RC1radiostar) it impacts on the ‘update rate’ of the voltage and gate outputs of the module. The limitation is imposed by Apple that is worried about user experience could be clogged by BT messages going back and forth ! :)

    • http://flexyvoid.com/ Yanakyl

      Uh ok
      So it doesn’t impact simple messages but continuous streams, thanks!
      Good enough for me then!

  • http://www.sylvainpoitras.com/ Sylvain Poitras

    Swift looks like a giant leap forward for Apple compared to Objective-C (likely the worst programming language I was ever compelled to learn).

  • Marc Nostromo

    What about uploading files without needing iTunes instead of new buzzwords ?

    • Arvid

      Actually, support for arbitrary file types in iCloud does enable exactly that. And I don’t even think they made up a buzz word for it ;-)

    • Marc Nostromo

      Interesting. So let’s suppose I want to update all the ringtones of my phone or provide a sample library for a sampler I can use iCloud for that ?

  • Arvid

    AFAIK there is no out-of-the-box Bluetooth MIDI support in iOS. The options available all depend on running third-party apps, and on top of that those solutions appear to be mutually incompatible (someone correct me if I’m wrong). So Apple putting their foot down and providing basic Bluetooth MIDI support for all would be a big thing.