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Getting Into Inter-App Audio

Make Music With Multiple Apps on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch
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Music software for iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad Workstations, DAW & sequencers for iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad

Introduced with iOS 7 and available on all iOS devices, Apple’s inter-app audio feature allows compatible apps to share audio streams and MIDI with each other, making it possible to work with multiple apps in a relatively seamless manner. Let’s take a look at how to use it.

In Inter-App audio, there are two types of apps: Nodes, are Instrument and effect apps whose outputs are made available to other apps. A Host is an app (usually a recorder or DAW) whose input is made available to the Nodes. 

Non standard

One of the confusing aspects of Inter-App audio, as opposed to Audiobus, which is a third-party option for audio integration among apps, is that every app implements it a little differently, which can sometimes be confusing. For example, Inter-App audio transport controls appear on all Node apps, and are typically right on the main screen, but on Arturia’s iMini app (a superb Minimoog emulation), I couldn’t find them until I tapped a disclosure arrow entitled Connect, which revealed them. 

For instance

Here's a step-by-step look at at configuring an Inter-App Audio setup, using Apple GarageBand (free in iOS 7) as a host, and Tempo Rubato's NLog Synth Pro as an instrument Node.


1. After launching GarageBand, I'll open the My Songs window. From there I can create a new project or open an existing one. I'll choose to create one.


2. This takes me to a window where I choose a track type for my first track, and I’ll slide until I get to Inter-App Audio, and then tap it.


3. That brings up a screen showing compatible Inter-App Audio Nodes. The tab at the top lets me look at either instruments or effects. I’ll tap the icon for Tempo Rubato’s NLog Synth Pro app.


4. Pressing that opens NLog Synth Pro featuring Inter-App Audio controls above the keys. I can put GarageBand into record right from here and start playing the synth.



If the Metronome and Count-off features of GarageBand have been activated, I’ll get a count off first and a click for reference as I record. 


If my project has existing tracks in it, I'll be able to hear them as I record my track from NLog Synth Pro.



5. Tapping the GarageBand icon in the Inter-App Audio transport controls in NLog Synth Pro takes me to GarageBand’s audio recorder window. There, I see the Inter-App Audio jack icon along with the NLog Synth Pro icon.


 6. Tapping the jack icon opens the Input Settings dialog, from where I can open the Inter-App Audio dialog (shown). From there I can add an effect to process the synth on its way into GarageBand.


MIDI, too

Inter-App Audio can be implemented in compatible MIDI apps, too. For example, the MIDI workstation app Tabletop includes an Inter-App Audio MIDI controller called Mastermind as one of the modular instruments that you can use within it. After you’ve added it to a setup, and opened it, you can choose an Inter-App Audio instrument in its Select App window, which can then be played from the onscreen keyboard, and its audio will be routed to Tabletop's mixer.


A simple setup in Tabletop with Mastermind added


Mastermind's Select App window lets you choose a MIDI instrument to control


More to come

As you can see from those examples, Inter-App Audio is a powerful feature in Apple's iOS, and once even more apps become compatible, it will be even more so.


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