The iPad has been available for eight months, and iPad music reading applications started coming out within weeks of the release of the iPad. It has been a tremendous year of development for music reading iPad applications, and at the end of the year, two apps remain my favorites in the category: UnrealBook and ForScore.
There are a bunch of music reading apps on the iTunes Store, some geared towards a specific audience, such as the GigBook readers. As a musician and a music educator, I need music reading apps with full features and wide potential for application in the classroom. And most importantly, require apps that allow for detailed annotation and do not require any other application to run (e.g. a “host” program on a personal computer). These requirements leave UnrealBook and ForScore as my top choices.
Recently, iOS 4.2.1 was released for the iPad. That upgrade caused a lot of compatibility issues for developers who were experienced with coding for iOS 3.2.2. At the immediate launch of iOS 4.2.1, UnrealBook had some display issues with the PDF files I had created and was using in my classes. The developer of UnrealBook worked very quickly to resolve those issues, but there were a couple of days that I needed to use ForScore as a primary music reader in my classes. It was very easy to transfer my files over to ForScore, and I was very grateful that I had ForScore to fall back on in that time period.
At this time of the year, when we try to be thankful for the blessing in our lives, consider how blessed we are to have UnrealBook and ForScore as options on the iPad. I think back to the FreeHand Systems Music Pad Pro, and how that device was limited to just running the music reader software, and that there was one option for music reading with that device…for $899. You can buy both UnrealBook and ForScore for $10.
My feelings about the individual apps hasn’t changed at all. I still think UnrealBook offers more features (overall) and better access (an easier to use “User Interface”), and that ForScore is more aesthetically pleasing but is harder to navigate.
What about the other readers? If you choose to buy them, go for it. GigBook offers great ways to organize music, and iGigBook offers some great features with indexes. If you own the personal computer version of Music Reader, the Music Reader App is essential if you have an iPad. But for education and all around use, you can’t go wrong with UnrealBook and ForScore, and it makes sense to have both on your iPad.