Category Archives: iPad Apps

iPad Apps

Incredibox: Another app joins the “Dark Side”

If you follow the tech news, you will see nothing but negative news about Apple these days.  Stock is currently trading around $90, every product is being called a failure, not innovative enough, or boring.  Every eductional article lauds the Chromebook and its success in education.

You might as well tell Apple to close their doors and go home.

While the stock price is not a good thing for investors, the company itself is plugging along.  Apple introduced a smaller iPhone (remember when EVERY tech journalist demanded larger phones?) which is still backordered, introduced the small (9.7″) iPad Pro, and refreshed many of their notebook computers, including the controversial 12″ MacBook which in the minds of many tech journalists, has both gone too far (One USB-C Port?  Burn down the Apple stores) and not far enough.

And it is a very quiet cycle in new products and apps.  Most companies scale up to CES (January) or Winter NAMM (also January), and we are really in the “calm of the storm” before Apples WWDC, where developers will learn what iOS 10 (if that is what it will be named) will bring and start programming for the eventual device releases in the fall.  I am waiting to move to the (12″) iPad Pro until the fall.  I saw one again last night at Best Buy and continue to be amazed by the sheer size of the device.

In this relatively quiet time of the year, it has been fun to see some apps that were previously web-based (I.e. Chromebook friendly) make it to iOS.  One of those apps was SoundTrap.  Another is a recent release of a popular music web app called Incredibox.  Incredibox was a Flash-based app, so it wouldn’t work on iOS.  The iOS app was released at the end of March, and already has had four major updates.  It is available for $2.99, and can be bought with educational pricing for $1.49 in groups of 20 or more.  I love seeing a previously web-only app make its way to iOS, just as I love seeing iOS apps move to Android and Chromebooks (There is some speculation that Chromebooks will soon run Android apps.  We will need to watch that development).

Incredibox is basically a looping app, where a group of guys are on a screen, and they make different looped sounds based upon the articles of clothing that you drag on the figure.   On the iOS app, if you don’t like the sound, just drag the clothes off the character.


As a choral and band educator at the secondary level, I struggle trying to integrate looping apps of any kind (including GarageBand) into traditional performance classes.  But I do know a lot of educators that like to teach with such apps (e.g. Disco Fingers, GarageBand)–and I know a lot of musicians who love to practice and perform with loops.

What I can tell you is that Incredibox is incredibly fun to play with, and the iOS app works perfectly.  If you would like more ideas about how Incredibox can be used in your classroom, I would simply forward you to posts on the subject by Katie Wardrobe (link) and Amy Burns (link).  Just remember that you can now purchase Incredibox for iOS, too.

SoundTrap is on iOS!


Last week, SoundTrap released an iOS app.  There is no secret that a number of web-based services, while in the universal HTML-5 format, do not work well on iPad.  Some services require a keyboard, others just don’t work right.  Another example is flat.io, which works best on computers and Chromebooks.  Flat.io has mentioned that they, too, are developing an iPad app.

SoundTrap is a web-based digital audio workstation, offering an interface similar to GarageBand.  Basic functions and loops are free, but subscriptions are required for full functionality.  Educational pricing does exist.

If you have an iPad, you might wonder why you would want SoundTrap instead of GarageBand, and unless you are into SoundTrap’s collaborative features (you might be!), there really isn’t much benefit for using SoundTrap.  However, if you teach in a BYOD environment or a mixed technology environment (e.g. Chromebooks and iPads available), SoundTrap files can be created on iOS or Chromebook and then opened in the other format.

Like the basic function of SoundTrap, the app is free, and is worth checking out.  I have not had time to attach any MIDI devices to SoundTrap, and will have to do that at a later time.

I love this move.  It opens SoundTrap to use in 1:1 iPad schools, and it acknowledges the place of the iPad in the world of music technology while still offering solutions on all those other platforms.  I wish SoundTrap all the success in the world.

Instrumental Teachers: Ningenius on Sale!

News from the makers of Ningenius, a gameified way to teach note names–and more importantly–instrument fingering, is on sale for one week (until March 26th). This is one of my recommended app for beginning and intermediate instrumental teachers.

Get your musicians learning NINJA style for LESS:

School Edition (1 iPad, unlimited users, all instruments): $11.99 (33% OFF)

Studio Edition (1 iPad, unlimited users, 1 instrument): $5.99 (30% OFF)

Student Edition (1 iPad, 1 user, 1 instrument): $.99 (66% OFF)

Hurry – SALE ends March 26th!

 

Ring Tones?

I received an e-mail from a teacher this week that was wondering if there was an easy way to convert student audio (such as from their own GarageBand composition) into a ring tone and save it to their own phones (iPhones and Android). 

I love the idea. The technology is capable of doing this. But can it be done?

GarageBand (even for iOS) can export audio to a ring tone–but it has to be on the same device to be added to the library. Otherwise, you have to export th file, open/save it in iTunes, and connect the phone via a cable to iTunes. Undid some research and this appears to still be true. 

With the latest changes with Apple Music, fewer users are ever connecting their phones with a cable. Many iPhones  have never been synced to a computer.

Still, the music library on an iOS device remains a final frontier–only accessible (adding music) through iTunes. 

As a person without an Andorid phone, I would imagine that it is much easier to take an audio file, import it, and use it as a ring tone.  Apple has had a much more restrictive view on music than Google has ever had. 

So…the question…does anyone have a successful way of sharing/adding ring tones to a device without the need to use a wired connection to iTunes?  Please send me an e-mail if you do. 

Bandmate Chromatic Tuner

Every now and then, I get an e-mail from a developer about their app (as a note, when the e-mail comes from the developer and not a PR firm, it makes me more likely to pay attention to the app. There are four of five blogs [in total] that discuss apps for music education, and all of us link to each other. It doesn't take that long to reach out to us). Not all apps are easily applicable to music education, and I choose not to blog about some apps, particularly when I don't see the connection to classroom music (which to me also includes band, choir, and orchestra).

The app I would like to bring to your attention today IS an app that is applicable to music education, and it is free without ads. It is a tuner called Bandmate Chromatic Tuner.

From the developer:

My name is Justin Dickson. I am a middle school band director in North Carolina. I wanted to tell you about an app that I designed. It is called Bandmate Chromatic Tuner, available for iOS and Android. It is free, with no ads so it is safe for classroom use. It is a chromatic tuner that displays your note on a music staff. It is the only tuner that does this. Since launching in August, it has had over 36,000 downloads. It has been a game changer with my beginners. Being able to see what note they are playing has made it so much easier to learn how to read music and play the correct notes on their instruments. Bandmate is set up for every instrument that you find in school bands and orchestras, and handles transposition without the user even needing to know what transposition is. In other words, Bandmate is an app that you can use on your first day of beginning band / orchestra with basically no explanation or set up time from the teacher. Download it, turn it on, and go with your lesson.

The unique element of this app is that it is a tuner that visually shows the pitch that is being played on the staff (with transposition in mind), unlike other tuners that show only the frequency. The only other app that comes to my mind that shows the pitch that is played is Magic Stave MIDI Recorder (or Magic Stave Free), but that app isn't a “tuner first,” are still iPhone apps (universal iOS versions are coming), and the free version is ad supported.

I know there is a HUGE following for TonalEnergy Chromatic Tuner and I am NOT suggesting that you “bail” on that app. Sometimes it is nice to have multiple tools in the toolkit, and Bandmate is a nice addtion that is straightforward for beginning students (and beginning technology users) [As a side note, also check out Band Tools].

So…if you tune instruments…go download Bandmate Chromatic Tuner!

 

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