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Hands on with GarageBand for the iPhone and iPad

Serenity Caldwell | Nov. 3, 2011
It's no secret around these parts that we're pretty fond of GarageBand on iOS.

Those who like velocity-based instruments--Drums, Smart Keyboard, and the Sampler among them--will be happy to hear that there are now some rudimentary controls for adjusting sound. Because your iOS device doesn't have a pressure-sensitive screen, GarageBand uses the velocity of your touch to imitate force. The Velocity Sensitivity setting offers four options: High, Medium, Low, and Off.

From my experience, off presents a default forte) sound with every tap; Low seems to more-or-less provide the same sound as when off; Medium offers two distinctions between taps, forte and piano; and High offers forte, mezzo-piano, and piano options. In English: Off--Loud; Low--Loud; Medium--Loud and Soft; High--Loud, Medium-Soft, and Soft.

Other instrument features include a transposition option for the Keyboard, Smart Keyboard, and Sampler: If you're unhappy with your track, or want a different sound, you can adjust it by half-steps and octaves. And if you're a drum enthusiast, you'll also find a new switch in settings to separate the bass drum from the cymbal.

General tweaks

GarageBand's instruments have gotten most of the new goodies in this update, but there are a few new general features out there, too: Two new time signatures, 3/4 and 6/8, join the default 4/4; you can change your song's key without automatically transposing your other tracks to the new key; and new quantization options allow you to correct your song's timing with swing and triplet notes. Finally, you can export your finished song in two new formats: AAC (from low-quality 64 kbs to iTunes Plus-quality 256 kbs) and uncompressed AIFF.

In short: This is a huge update. I spent several hours digging around, and even then, I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer. I certainly like what I see, though, and can't wait to dig around a little more. Who knows? There might even be some treasure lurking beneath the surface. For that, you'll have to stay tuned for Macworld's full review of GarageBand 1.1, coming soon.


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