Apple patent filing involves enhanced virtual instruments for GarageBand

Apple may be preparing to beef up the virtual features in its GarageBand music creation apps for iOS and macOS. The tech giant has applied for a patent (number 20190129611) dubbed “enhanced virtual instrument techniques.”

In the patent filing, Apple notes that virtual musical instruments, such as musical instrument digital interface (MIDI)-based or software-based keyboards, string 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. 

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Apple says that while these instruments are enjoyable to amateur and experienced musicians alike, stylistic features and/or playing techniques may be difficult or impossible for a device to emulate with conventional user interfaces. This can be problematic for users who would like to include such stylistic features and/or techniques as they play. Apple wants to change this.

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Embodiments of the present disclosure can provide systems, methods, and computer-readable medium for implementing user interfaces for interacting with a virtual instrument. For example, a user interface for a virtual instrument may be presented on a display of a device. The user interface may have any suitable number of strings (or keys) associated with a physical instrument. 

“Each string/key may correspond to an associated audio file. Touch input may be received at the user interface. In some embodiments, the touch input may include a location corresponding to a particular string. The associated audio file may be selected based on the location. The associated audio file may be presented (e.g., via a speaker of the device) at a volume that corresponds with the pressure at which the touch input was provided.”

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.