Category Archives: iPad Apps

iPad Apps

Another iPad. App…”Feed”

I will be writing more about Feed in the near future, but Feed is an interactive looping app with a unique user interface. I was contacted by the developer about the app, and just downloaded the app. In looking at the app's description in iTunes, I noticed that the app is on sale this week for $1.99, which is 70% off. I may not get a chance to write about the app for the next few days, so I thought I would mention it while it was still on sale. This is a new version of the app (v 2.0), and they are celebrating the latest release with the discount price.

If you are a teacher or musician that uses loops, it may very well be worth your time to get this app. The developer/company has been using the app to teach courses in music education (as well as some programming courses) in the UK…so it is an app that is being field-tested in education as it is being developed.

I will wrote more about this app later! But if Feed interests you, you should buy it while it is on sale.

PDF Expert (and all Readdle Apps) is 50% off! ($4.99)

I have long suggested the purchase of PDF Expert by Readdle–it is the best PDF manager that I know of (for the iPad). This isn't an app for your music PDF files, but it is an app for all the other PDF documents that come into your life. I have used the app for everything from signing contracts and personal bank documents to applying to present at conferences.

I had been using the old version of PDF Expert (4th version), but a new version was released in late 2013–but Readdle required you to purchase the new version (this is understandable, as companies cannot continue to update an app for free forever). I was going to wait until the app went on sale before I bought it.

Over the last months, Readdle has offered sales on many apps–including offering some for free–but PDF Expert 5 has never been on sale before. It is on sale right now for 50% off, and yes, I bought it this morning. This is a 48 hour–so the 50% sale will not last long. This is one of those “front page apps” on my iPad, and it will likely be the same on yours. Don't miss the sale!

 

Some new apps–to me–and perhaps for you!

I am always looking for new/improved/better music education apps. Over the last week, a few have come to my attention.

First, Amy Willis recently taught a week long course on iPads in music education, and she has been posting about that course at mustech.net. Here are the sequence of posts:

  1. iPads in the Elementary General Music Classroom
  2. iPads in the Elementary Music Classroom – Teacher Tools
  3. iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Creating Music, Reading Notes and Rhythms, and Virtual Acoustic Ensembles
  4. iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Creation Apps
  5. iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Notation, Ear Training, Recorder and Keyboard Apps
  6. iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Apps Used by Elementary Music Teachers
  7. iPads in the Elementary Music Room – 16 Great Resources
  8. iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Some of My Favorite Virtual Music Apps
  9. iPads in the Elementary Music Classroom – Guided Access

One of the apps that Amy mentions in the articles is a free app called MetaXylo Plus. This is an Orff app that allows you to remove bars on Orff instruments. I have been looking for such an app for a long time…and it turns out it has been available since September 2013 (there is also a French version). A gigantic thank you to Amy Willis for mentioning this app!

Another app that I was introduced to at my day of sessions for the St. Cloud State University Summer Music Education Institute is a rhythm app (also free) called Woodchuck Rhythm.

Be sure to check Amy's posts for other apps that could be of use to you!

 

An update to forScore

This evening, forScore pushed out a small but significant update to their app. Instead of the “old” Dropbox option, forScore now allows for linking with a number of services, under a “Services” tab, where the “Dropbox” option used to be in the menu.

Additional services include Google Drive (only one account at a time, as far as I can tell; multiple accounts would be useful), Box, One Drive, WebDAV, and FTP. I would not be surprised to see iCloud Drive added to fall when iOS 8 is introduced.

Just last week, a participant at one of my workshops asked why I always talked about Dropbox in terms of the iPad and various apps; essentially Dropbox was really the first consumer cloud drive that became popular, and as such, is naturally included with most apps that use cloud storage. Google Drive and Box have also managed to be successful in the cloud storage arena, so it is likely that many apps that offer Dropbox-only access will change to be more inclusive.

Don’t get me wrong…I love Dropbox and it remains my #1 choice, but I don’t have a paid subscription (if you pay, you get more space for storage). In an era where web storage continues to decrease in price (even iCloud Drive will offer 20GB for $0.99 a month), Dropbox’s prices have remained shockingly high. If you buy a Chromebook, most of them include 100 GB of storage for (at least) two years , free. Granted, I need a couple of terabytes to store all my media…but 100 GB certainly covers a lot of items. I also have a Google Drive account as part of our school GAFE program.

So…if you have forScore and have been longing to use Google Drive or Box directly from the app (not using “Open In,” go download the update. After updating, if you were a Dropbox user, you will have to add Dropbox back again in the Services area.

SmartScore NoteReader is available…How does it compare?

As I talked about scanning in my Technology in Music Education workshop yesterday, I noticed that SmartScore's NoteReader had been released on the App Store on the 15th. The app itself is free, but if you want to export any of the data, you have to pay $9.99 for the premium upgrade.

SmartScore NoteReader is an app that allows you to scan and then play music (for free), and then (as an In-App Purchase) to export data a number of ways (including e-mail and Dropbox) so that you could import that data into SmartScore Pro X2 or any number of music notation programs, such as Finale, Sibelius, MuseScore, and Notion.

SmartScore NoteReader allows you to take a picture(s) of a score, import a picture of a score, or import a PDF to recognize. In comparison, NotateMe's PhotoScore In-App Purchase allows you to take a picture (or a series of pictures) of a score, but importing a picture (on iOS) requires working through other apps, such as Mail. At the moment, NotateMe does not allow you to import a PDF. As a result, in terms of working with existing documents, NoteReader is easier to use than NotateMe/PhotoScore.

I have only done a few scans with SmartScore's NoteReader so far, and initial trials indicate that NotateMe/PhotoScore is more accurate than NoteReader. On a one part score, SmartScore's NoteReader scans with equivalent accuracy to NotateMe/PhotoScore–when all staves scan. NoteReader dropped staves that NotateMe/PhotoScore did not. PhotoScore also does a better job of handling lyrics–more lyrics are accuate than on NoteReader, although there are errors with lyrics on both apps.

On a single line band score, I would estimate that NoteReader is scanning at 75% accuracy while NotateMe/PhotoScore is scanning at 95% (or greater) accuracy. In a multi-page choral score, NotateMe/PhotoScore stays at 95%, while NoteReader's accuracy diminishes greatly (50% or less).

I am using the same set-up for scanning for both apps, with an iPad “document camera” stand and an iPad 4. It is possible that a closer photo could yield a more accurate “reading” from NoteReader; but I have noticed that NotateMe/PhotoScore tends to be a little more accurate when you don't zoom in very close to the page! Additionally, I would assume that the better the camera (in other words, with a newer device or an iPhone), the better the resulting accuracy of the scan. So, if you scanned with an iPhone 5S, you might have higher accuracy with both programs.

The current setup for scanning

Again, these are preliminary tests, and both apps are in their first weeks (or days) in the App Store. Undoubtedly, there will be app updates in the weeks, months, and years to come. It is exciting that you can scan music on your iPad (or iPhone, or Android) device without the need to purchase a scanner.

In terms of accuracy, NotateMe ($39.99) plus the PhotoScore In-App Purchase ($29.99) is currently the winner, by a large margin (particulary when dealing with multiple parts). In addition to scanning, NotateMe also is a handwriting-based music notation app which allows you to edit those scans after they have been recognized by the software. NotateMe's ability to “Open In” feature is useful when exporting the data to another app (such as Notion). Both apps allow for the use of Dropbox.

In terms of built-in useability (selecting existing images, using PDFs) and price, SmartScore's NoteReader (free, $9.99 In-App Purchase to export data) is ahead of its competitor. At 1/7 the price of the NotateMe/PhotoScore package ($69.98), NoteReader might be worth purchasing. And remember…both SmartScore and PhotoScore are very expensive desktop programs, each costing nearly three times the price if you were to buy both of these apps!

And if you want to just TRY these apps, NotateMe does have a “lite” version called NotateMe Now (allowing for one score at a time) which DOES include PhotoScore, and SmartScore's NoteReader is a free app (until you want to export data). So…if you have an iPad, iPhone, or Android device (note: the camera on the iPad 2 and the original iPad Mini are not high resolution enough to work with some apps, such as NotateMe), at the very least download the free versions and see what these apps can do!

Note: In the image above, I show what happens when you export the MusicXML file generated by these apps into another app (in this case, I printed these to my printer from Notion for iPad). Compared to the original score, both apps could not determine an existing multi-measure rest (there were 3 in the original file). NoteReader dropped the first and last staves of the original; NotateMe/PhotoScore's greatest issue was the addition of a second note to a number of notes in the score. Both scores picked up key signatures, clefs, and time signatures changes (meter changes) in the original score, and both can play back what they have processed from paper to digital notation. Just remember…whenever you scan in music, there will be clean-up. The important question at that point is: 'How much clean-up do I have to do here?”

 

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