My thoughts on the Apple iPad

After a mountain of hype the Apple iPad is finally here. It’s more an evolutionary product than revolutionary. What I mean is it doesn’t have a front facing camera behind the screen that tracks your movements and let’s you do hand swipe gestures in mid-air. It really is more like a large iPhone. So far the amazing re-invention of the magazine as seen in demos from Time and Sports Illustrated are not on this device. Those are two examples of stuff I would have characterized as revolution. Am I really disapointed? Not one bit because as an iPhone owner I know how amazing the iPad is going to be. The touch screen interface on my iPhone is such a joy to play with a larger more useful sized iPad is going to lend itself to the creation of thrilling new apps. Peter Kirn over at CreateDigitalMusic went on a bit of a rant in a post titled How A Great Product Can Be Bad News: Apple, iPad, and the Closed Mac. He states he displeasure with Apple’s closed system, the choice of an iPhone vs Mac OS in the iPad, lack of ports on the iPad and so forth. I disagree with Peter and think the iPad is going to be an amazing piece of equipment for musicians. How do I know? Because my iPhone is already an amazing piece of equipment for musicians. My iPhone doesn’t need virus protection, App makers make money and I love the look and feel of the thing in my hand. We are musicians right? Don’t we gravitate to beautiful things? Luckily for Peter he has a great option: Android.

So what about the futuristic features some of us dreamed about earlier this week? Front face video chat and 4G are so 2011! Wonderfully, the entry level iPad is $499. Most Americans with day jobs can save that amount of spending money in one week. Ok I’ve done my Apple fanboy post… see you on stage!

For more info: apple.com/ipad/

18 Comments

  1. I agree with you on this. I read Peter’s article last night and I completely disagree. I think when some of these apps for example Touch OSC are ported to this device and more apps take advantage of the larger screen – its gonna be great.

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  2. While I agree that some of Peter’s concerns are just problems waiting to be solved (ports, OS, etc), I think the concern about Apple’s control over what we can install on our iPads is important and a problem. I don’t expect to be able to use a next-gen Ableton or Reaktor on my iPhone, but on this it would be amazing. However I can’t imagine Apple allowing anything on here that competes with Logic. Same goes for video editing (FCP), photos (Aperture), etc.
    If I have to download it on iTunes and it’s subject to Apple’s approval, it sure limits what we can do with it. So to me it’s less a hardware issue and more a system issue. Yeah TouchOSC would be great on this to control Ableton on our laptops. But why limit it to that? Why not have an actual version of Live on this thing running with a multi-touch control built in M4L, sending out directly to my headphones? More Macbook, less iPhone.

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    1. Not sure of the “logic” here. If Apple were worried about competition for Logic they could have written in hardware hooks that would not allow competing apps to run on the Macintosh. Since MOTU and Steinberg and the rest are all there running happily on he Mac, I doubt Apple would create these restrictions for the iPad.

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    2. Although Apple’s control over the AppStore will always be a concern, the money the company makes out of music production is dwarfed by what it gets from the general consumer market. Apple sees itself as a consumer company not a computer company now. And more music production leads to more stuff available through the iTunes store, so it would be daft to throttle music apps on its own hardware simply to prop up a single application.

      @Oliver:
      “We are musicians right? Don’t we gravitate to beautiful things?”

      And then I think of the Gibson Flying-V.

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  3. There are many sequencer type Apps for the iPhone. I seriously doubt Apple would discourage Ableton from developing a music making App for the iPad.

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  4. Oh come on Oliver. “Many sequencer-type apps” aren’t Ableton. They don’t run VSTs, etc. They’re nice for using on a train and, if we’re lucky enough that they can send out MIDI, we can use what we made when we get to the studio (by exporting through iTunes).
    Apple has discouraged pretty much anything that would compete with Apple’s own stuff on the iPhone. If Apple is developing multi-touch for Logic for the iPad, I’d be surprised if they allowed something like Live/Max/M4K on it. It’s just not how they’re pushing this thing. It’s a “consumer device” for them. A million Jasutos and BeatMakers will never be big enough to threaten Apple. So yes yes yes lots of cool stuff will be made for iPad. But it’s always going to be something we add on to our workflow and tack on when useful.
    Granted, the control Apple keeps certainly makes for stability and certainly keeps the piracy down. So there’s that. But I would like a tablet computer some day.

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  5. I think you’re being a little too optimistic (and Peter perhaps too pessimistic).

    iPad’s primary drawback is its closed nature – Apple makes money on every bit of hardware or software sold for it. This also gives Apple control over what runs on it.

    It won’t run VSTs. I am skeptical that it has enough horsepower to do much in the way of interesting software synthesis.

    At least in default form, it lacks MIDI in/out and a decent audio output, limiting its musical utility.

    Because it is a touchscreen, you cannot reliably operate it without looking at it, which limits its ability to be a musical instrument or controller. You’ll end up staring at it instead of your score, your audience, your conductor, or your fellow musicians.

    It is a nice display, though. One could do a nice sheet music viewer on it, and it will likely make a nice simple recorder (the various 4-track apps should be fun).

    For its intended purpose (web browsing and media consumption) I think it’s a great product at a great price point. I’ll likely get one at some point, but I don’t think it’ll get much studio use.

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  6. No matter what Jobs demoed yesterday, it was never going to live up to all the hype of the past few weeks. That said, I have to admit that I was completely underwhelmed. But, I freely admit that I’m not Apple’s target market. I already have an iPhone and a MacBook Pro. I really can’t see what an iPad is going to do for me that I can’t already do.

    As for the superior web experience Jobs mentioned. Not being able to play Flash means that your favorite TV streaming sites (hello hulu) won’t work. Oh, and having half the screen taken up by a virtual keyboard doesn’t really scream superior web experience. At least to me.

    Having said all that, as an Apple fan and lover of gadgets, I’d love an iPad. I just don’t need one, and can’t really justify a third “mobile device” to carry around with me. Especially at $600+ because let’s be honest, if you’re going to get one, you’re going to want the 3G model.

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  7. Three of my initial thoughts…

    I’ve seen about 5 iphones with shattered screens from people dropping them. Everybody drops their iphones eventually (and those are hand-sized). Imagine dropping this thing. It will need about an inch of specialized padding on the edges to protect it.

    Also, I am just not willing to pay $500+ for a MIDI controller. I do have an iphone and that does most of the non-controller things that I would want the ipad to do (kindle, music, portable web, email). Granted, new and exciting uses for it will surface very soon. So look forward to seeing what people develop for it.

    Finally, my iphone (3G) is terribly latent & even unresponsive sometimes. I assume that this device would have that all worked out, but it would have to be fairly dead-on to use it live.

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  8. If someone makes an app which does what a Jazzmutant Lemur does this is a must buy for me :)

    But for now, my Iphone will do just fine.

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  9. I’m just curious, what kind of expenses in a week of a typical American household would sum up $500?

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  10. As good as the ipad is, it will be “dead” for serious music making when another manufacturer releases something similar running Windows and having usb/firewire ports. All VSTs and Windows sequencers will be instantly available on a portable touch screen … How long will it take?

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  11. I was wondering about the electronic music capabilities of the ipad and my first thought was to visit wiretotheear – guess my instincts served right!

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  12. if the litle miss can be as promising as the lemur,
    http://www.jazzmutant.com/lemur_overview.php

    gonna be awsome !

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  13. A refreshingly positive view on the iPad. While I won’t be getting one anytime soon, it’s nice to read your continual optimism!

    Regarding dropping it, check out the iBallz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIC23rG3L4o

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  14. I am quite amused with the first takes on the iPad. As the usual hesitation for a new product from Apple takes root, there are things to consider before deciding that this thing is a lame device or that this is the one piece missing from our technological arsenal of tools.
    The hottest market right now, the market that seems to be delivering new ways of doing things, is the controller market. The recent NAMM showed off controllers ranging from surface touch devices to guitar shaped controllers that are not guitars.The iPhone has no short list of synths and controllers already and available to users. The iPad opens the door to developing new interfaces/controllers, new ways of looking at controlling and synthing, and a portable unwired device that won’t exclude other uses of the same device. This, I think, is the deal breaker. I can’t wait to run Droneo (and the upcoming Loopi) on it, or perhaps use it to control Logic from a half a room away. I seriously think that this is a starting point for a new world of controllers and synths that can only add to an already intriguing array of devices available and in competition for your use. Not to mention the other things this does out of the box. Gamechanger? maybe not but it’s what future devices will aspire to like it or not.

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  15. im loving the ipad personally. what do you think of it now? was it upto your standards?

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    1. So far I only used it in the Apple Store and loved it… I’m waiting for the 3g version. Nice forums by the way.

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