In the span of a decade, the audio and music possibilities for Apple’s iOS have evolved from a handy musical notepad to a fully functional production platform that’s every bit as legitimate as a desktop environment. Thanks to ongoing advancements in interoperability and innovative standards like Ableton Link and Audiobus, multiple apps can now work in concert to create professional productions. What’s more, Apple have steadily added features to their mobile operating system that optimize it for sophisticated creative tasks when recording and mixing all genres of music.
Since many of these improvements have been incremental—and new users arrive on the platform daily—it can be tough to keep track with all of the amenities in iOS. Add in several hundred genuinely affordable music production apps and it’s even trickier to know where to begin.
For example, in iOS 11, Apple quietly introduced MIDI enhancements to the AUv3 plugin standard that now allow apps to do tricks like arpeggiation and sequencing, in addition to simply processing audio. While a handful of ambitious developers implemented it, it’s still quite nascent, as even the current version of GarageBand doesn’t make full use of the innovation. That’s how deep some of these changes can go.
So here we’ve compiled the most powerful aspects of iOS (and some notable app-based tricks) into a single reference, so you can quickly discover the production possibilities within your device.