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Audio Apps - The Mac App Store Day 1

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The Mac App Store has just opened, and the first day was an unqualified success, with the download of over a million apps. What will the app store mean for audio software, and the future of the Mac? We have a look at the audio apps available on Day 1.

There has been concern expressed over whether the app store is right for audio. It isn't the right platform (in its current state) for the sale of plugins. And there is concern about the huge margins Apple make from other people's software. Yet there are already 76 apps in the "Music" category of the store.

There are also fears about whether Apple will make the Mac a closed shop by forcing all apps to be sold through the app store at some point in the future. But that remains to be seen. For now, the Mac App Store is a convenient way for Apple users to discover, install and update software. Let's have a look at what's available.

By the way, you install the app store on your Mac by doing a standard System Update from the Apple menu. And since I have access to the Australian store, any prices I mention are in Australian dollars.


Initial Observations

  • None of the big guns are there - not even Apple's own Logic Pro. I wasn't really expecting them to be there, and I'm not sure I'd enjoy having to download a multi-DVD app every time I had to install it. It will be interesting to see how whether large, expensive apps make it to the store in the future.
  • Prices in the Mac app store are way higher than the iOS app store - even when they are essentially the same app. It will be interesting to see if prices come down over time.
  • Garage Band is selling well, although I expect it would come preinstalled on most Macs. I don't know how much it costs - it just tells me I already have it installed. That's a frustration I also have with the iOS app store. I just tried it on another computer and found it costs $17.99, which is a bargain!
  • "I Love Stars" is a simple utility that allows you to rate your songs from the menu bar as they play. Very handy. I downloaded it for free a few weeks ago, but in the apps store it costs $1.19. It will be interesting to see how many other free apps will go into the app store with a nominal charge, and whether that works.

The Freebies

I imagine the app store will be a great way to distribute free apps. So far there are only five in the store.

  • IkeOto is a "sound arrangement" app. The rest of the description is in Japanese and I haven't tried it yet, so I can't tell you what it actually does.
  • SoundCloud is essentially a desktop version of the well-known website.
  • Bowtie lets you control iTunes with customizable shortcuts. If you purchase an inexpensive iOS app, you can also control playback on your iPhone.
  • WannaAudio is free for a limited time. It allows you to extract lossless audio from FLV and MP4 video files.
  • Skyeater OO Free is a monophonic synthesizer. It is actually a demo of a polyphonic synth that costs $2.49.

The Most Expensive Options

While most apps are under $100, there are a couple that break that barrier. Here are the most expensive eight apps. Which of these would you consider buying?

  • $249.99 Keymap Pro can create, edit, combine, automap, autoloop, slice, process your sampled instruments/sounds for Logic and Mainstage (EXS24), Kontakt3 and 4, Structure and Reason NNXT. Keymap One is a cut-down version that sells for $89.99.
  • $199.99 Platinum Notes uses studio filters to process your files. It corrects pitch, improves volume, and makes every file ready to be played everywhere.
  • $99.99 Twisted Wave is an easy-to-use audio editor.
  • $89.99 Mixtape Pro is an app for beat matching mixes.
  • $89.99 ProManager manages, optimizes, compresses, tags, searches, browses your sampled instruments for Logic and Mainstage (EXS24), Kontakt, Structure and Reason NNXT and Keymap.
  • $89.99 AutoSampler captures the sounds of your hardware and software synths, and automatically converts them to sampled instruments.
  • $89.99 MixMeister Express creates quality mixes with beat-mixed song transitions.
  • $89.99 MegaSeg DJ is a live mixing program for DJs.

Cheap But Interesting

Here are a few apps that look interesting and are less than $10.

  • $3.99 8Bit Drummer is a drum machine with classic sounds.
  • $7.99 Speed-Up lets you play any song in iTunes at speeds between 0.25x to 3.0x.
  • $5.99 CoverSutra gives you a handy and attractive way to control iTunes without leaving your current app.
  • $1.19 iTweetMyTunes tweets the tracks you're playing in iTunes.
  • $4.99 eTuner is an interactive chromatic tuner that works automatically with a variety of instruments. Audio Tuner is another option with the same price.
  • $19.99 Voice Analyzer is a real-time spectrum and spectrogram analyzer that can assist with voice coaching.

Conclusion

So while the Mac app store has had a promising beginning, it is not yet the place to go for your audio needs. It is a convenient place to get hold of Garage Band if you don't already have it, and there are a few other mid-range DAWs in the $50-60 price range that we may cover in a future article.

But I'll be visiting from time to time to keep track of what is available, and there are a few toys I might spend a few dollars on. Have you purchased any audio apps from the store yet? What did you get, and how have you found them?

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