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!
Can you remember back to early 2013, when a company announced a revolutionary app that would covert handwritten notation into digital notation? The app was actually a concept–and was a promotional video that went viral in the world of music education technology. Ultimately, it turned out that the commercial was using existing technologies to show a “proof of concept,” with the hopes of generating a crowd-funded app.
The app never reached its required level of funding, and the company changed courses, selling copies of the app in advance as they worked on handwriting analysis, audio sounds, and so on. Sadly, the company announced this past March that their developer had quit and that they were going to attempt to keep working on the product–but would be returning reservations and so on. For all intents and purposes, it was a “the end” letter (see note below).
Meanwhile, another company–Neuratron–introduced a music handwriting recongition app (NotateMe — Now $39.99, and it also scans music for an additional $29.99 in-app purchase–a free one-staff trial version of the app is also available) in January of 2014.
At the time that ThinkMusicTechnology was attemping to fund their app, they had two partners–MyScript, the makers of several handwriting based apps, including MyScript Calculator (it's cool…try it) and Adonit (makers of a good line of precision styluses). I thought that the ThinkMusicTechnology app had a strong chance to make it, particularly because of their relationship with MyScript.
Today, MuseScore (of all organizations) retweeted an announcement about the MyScript music notation HTML 5 web app. It works on all devices, and although audio doesn't play back on the iPad–it works. Go try it out. I wish you could resize the handwriting area–and MusicXML export is a bit odd, as it pulls up a separate page with the actual MusicXML coding (not a downloadable or “open in” file). My guess is that this is the engine that was supposed to be behind the ThinkMusicTechnology app, and since that app is not around, MyScript still wanted to do something with all that work.
So…try it out. Make a bookmark to the page. And to those of you in 1:1 schools, this might be another option for notation (obviously, it will be easier to draw on a touch based machine, which could mean Windows 8.1 devices, Android, or even the rare Chromebook touchscreen computers.
Is this going to replace NotateMe for my workflow? Not a chance, particularly with NotateMe Now available for free (for use with students)–plus NotateMe also has PhotoScore (which is a game changer). However, the HTML 5 approach is a positive development–and perhaps it is something MyScript can license to other programs (Noteflight, perhaps?). And it might be a good time for some of the exisiting notation products (Finale, Sibelius, Notion, even the coming Steinberg program) to consider an acquistion of a platform that works for the “next generation” of notation entry.
These are exciting times—there is always something new out there to try!
Note: I have said this before, about Symphony Pro…which was resurrected and is available again. That said, take my analysis with a grain of salt.
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:
- iPads in the Elementary General Music Classroom
- iPads in the Elementary Music Classroom – Teacher Tools
- iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Creating Music, Reading Notes and Rhythms, and Virtual Acoustic Ensembles
- iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Creation Apps
- iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Notation, Ear Training, Recorder and Keyboard Apps
- iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Apps Used by Elementary Music Teachers
- iPads in the Elementary Music Room – 16 Great Resources
- iPads in the Elementary Music Room – Some of My Favorite Virtual Music Apps
- 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!
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.
I received notice that a new program, called Ear Teacher (www.earteacher.com) is available for purchase on the Mac platform. I declined a chance to review the program because my educational situation will not be able to take advantage of the program because of cost of the program (we have a $0 budget) and platform (we are a 1:1 iPad school with a limited number of Windows desktops and laptop carts in the school).
Ear Teacher may, however, fit into your model, and if so, check it out! There is a free trial available.