Apple releases GarageBand 2.1, Music Memos for iOS

In a rather unexpected move -- at least for this blogger -- Apple today released a new music app and an update to GarageBand for iOS. The new app is called Music Memos (free) and it's used for recording music ideas, while the GarageBand update brings the music-making app up to version 2.1.

First, GarageBand 2.1. The new iOS app has introduced the drummer feature that's in GarageBand and Logic for Mac, and adds a really cool feature called Live Loops. Think about DJ hardware controllers and drum machines, and that's what you have with Live Loops. To create music, you can just tap on cells or play a column of cells in a grid. GarageBand keeps everything in perfect pitch and tempo, and you can add loops by just tapping a cell and selecting one. Apple outdid itself with loops, adding 1,200 new ones to this version of GarageBand.

Live Loop templates are included for a spectrum of music genres, so whether you want Rock, EDM, Dubstep or Hip Hop (among others), they're available and ready to roll. GarageBand 2.1 for iOS is bundled free with any new iOS device that has 32GB or more of storage and is available as a free upgrade for any existing users with compatible iOS 9 (or later) devices. The rest of you will have to shell out $4.99 on the App Store. 

The new app, Music Memos, is a free app that musicians have been waiting for a long time. Rather than pulling up the standard iOS Voice Memos app to record music ideas, Music Memos is designed specifically for recording those little snippets of music that come into your head. When the app is is launched, you just tap a record button and start playing -- Music Memos starts recording a 24-bit 44.1kHz audio file. 

Once you've stopped recording, a lot of amazing post-processing takes place. Music Memos "listens" to the recording, doing an analysis of tempo and chord changes for guitar and piano. Those chords are placed onto the waveform of the recording. Next, tap on a drummer and a bass (built-in instruments) and it adds those lines to your recording -- as if you have a small band playing along with you. 

The tune can be named for easier searching later on, and tagged with location or such categories as verse or chorus. In each file you save, there's place to store lyrics, tunings, and more -- even what you were thinking about when you wrote the song.

Music Memo files are easily shared on social media, with the app compressing the file to save space during uploads. Exporting your tunes to GarageBand turns them into a multi-track GarageBand project for editing. 

Apple executives are constantly touting the fact that music is in the company's DNA. With the release of Music Memos and the update to GarageBand, they've just reinforced that thought.