Apple patent involves user interfaces for virtual instruments

Apple has filed for a patent (number 9,928,817) for user interfaces for virtual instruments, which hints at some user interface tweaks in upcoming versions of its GarageBand and Logic Pro X software.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that virtual musical instruments, such as musical instrument digital interface (MIDI)-based or software-based keyboards, guitars, bass instruments, and the like, typically have user interfaces that attempt to closely resemble the actual instrument. When a user selects an element of the user interface, the virtual musical instrument attempts to play a note, a combination of notes, chord(s), etc., to simulate playing the actual instrument. 

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Apple says that, while these instruments are enjoyable to amateur and experienced musicians alike, they may not be satisfactory to users hoping for a more authentic experience. For example, some physical instruments and/or musical genres may be associated with certain stylistic features such as a particular playing style, picking technique, embellishments, and the like. These stylistic features may be difficult or impossible for a user to emulate with conventional user interfaces.

This can be problematic for users who would like to include such stylistic features as they play. Additionally, some users may be inexperienced with the actual instrument or may find an interface that closely resembles the playing surface of the actual interface difficult or confusing to utilize. Apple wants to improve on this.

The patent involves systems, methods, and computer-readable medium for implementing user interfaces for interacting with a virtual instrument. For example, first touch input indicating a string location of a plurality of string locations within the note selection area. 

Audio output corresponding to the sting location may be presented on a speaker based at least in part on the first touch input. Second touch input corresponding to an ornamental interface element of the user interface may be received. In response to the first and second touch input, a series of two or more audio outputs may be presented on the speaker according to a predetermined pattern.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.