Chromatik Gets an Update

Yesterday night (May 12), Chromatik's most recent update went live on the App Store. This latest version is version 3.0 and it has a number of new features that are worth examining.

The most important updates in Chromatik v. 3.0–in my opinion–is that Chromatik now allows you to create hotspots in the score, making repeats, D.S., D.C., and Coda markings manageable with the app/service. It would be wonderful if the hotspots that were added to a score would be included if the score was added to a playlist and shared with others (saving them the effort of recreating those hotspots).

Additionally, if you are in the edit mode, you can now use a slider bar to quickly move backwards and forwards through a piece.

Although I know that some schools already use Chromatik in their teaching, these two additions make Chromatik an efficient option in the classroom. Without these two features (hotspots, quick turns), management in a rehearsal would be difficult (you would have to move page-by-page slowly through a score).

Yes, there are a number of features I would still like to see added to Chromatik to make it “fully” useful as a tool in music classes:

  • I would like to be able to leave the seek bar on at all times (not just in edit mode).
  • I would like to be able to write in colors, particularly red and blue.
  • I would like to be able to set Chromatik to turn a page forward or back with a single touch on the right or left sides, instead of using the swipe (a single touch brings up the menu). Swiping is a complicated gesture that isn't great in performance (think about holding a tuba, or playing a piano, and swiping, versus a single touch).
  • I would like to be able to attach an audio recording and include it on a playlist so that my students could practice with an audio track. This is crucial because iOS has the music library locked up. If Chromatik could work around this, it would be a HUGE solution to a major iOS issue.
  • Chromatik is working on a feature that will allow you to sign up to a playlist with a code, rather than entering the e-mail of each student. This will be a huge improvement, but I do not think it is “live” yet.
  • I'd like to see a way to get away from the e-mail subscription, for schools, as students under age 13 can't legally have e-mail addresses (but are in secondary level choirs that could benefit from Chromatik).
  • I'd still like to see a tuner, metronome, and pitch pipe in the app.
  • I love the fact that Chromatik offer music for purchase, even for groups. This is a huge step in the transition from paper to digital music. The problem I have with the purchase program is that the digital music available from Chromatik is the same price as buying a paper copy–and you cannot export what you buy to another program. In my mind, the digital copy should be less expensive as a paper copy–particularly if you can't take it out of Chromatik. As it stands, I would rather buy the paper copy at full price (and we have a local music store that gives us 10% off all year, and 20% during August). Or, I would pay full price if I could move the digital copy out of Chromatik as a high-quality PDF. In reality, I would like a digital copy that is less expensive that I could take out of Chromatik if I so wished/needed. I know the publishers are terrified of copyright infringement, and that Chromatik deserves to make money off of their services. It is a level of DRM (digital rights management) that I understand, but would rather be without.

And I'm sure that Chromatik has far more in store for the app than I can imagine. The recording feature isn't beneficial to me–in choir–because vocal students usually need a harmonic context for their performances. I would need a student to be able to play their part (on the iPad) and record at the same time. The fact is that SmartMusic does this–for vocal or instrumental music. But I can definitely see how the system could be used as the app improves over time.

At any rate, Chromatik's release of v. 3.0 has been pretty quiet (no major announcements), but it is a significant update that takes the app from the category (specifically, my category) of “app to be watched” to “app that can now efficiently be used in your classroom.” I give Matt Sandler (CEO) and the whole Chromatik team kudos for their work.

In my opinion, Chromatik still renders music on the iPad better than any app I've used (and I've used most of them). I think that files are slightly stretched to fill the screen (if necessary), but the end result looks very good…even on an iPad Mini (I'm waiting to buy an iPad Mini [and a MacBook Air, for that matter] until it is offered with a retina screen).

If you haven't signed up for Chromatik, do so today…it is free, and may become the way you distribute music to your music ensembles (you can actually set up band parts for the same score with different instruments–very cool). I think that I will be using it with my middle school choirs next year as they will be 1:1 iPad. I believe that Chromatik is also Air-Turn bluetooth page turing compatible.



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