By now we all know the mantra – when there is a new iOS update, prepare for the onslaught of app updates. It used to be surprising … now it is expected. I have probably updated 100 apps on my iPad since last week. [Oh, and I should mention that I LOVE the in-place updating!]
But while some updates are just bug fixes and iOS 6 compatibility, others bring entirely new functionality. Significant functionality. And the funny thing is that it is hard to know what changes are major or minor when you see a list of a dozen or more updates every time you check the App Store.
While most of the focus in recent days has been about the amazing new ‘variable destination mode’ of Maps (wait, that isn’t a feature?), little has been said about some MAJOR updates that Apple has issued for the rest of their app suite.
Most of the updates to apps such as iPhoto, GarageBand, iMovie, Numbers, Keynote, Remote, Podcasts, Find My iPhone, Find My Friends, iTunes Movie Trailers, Cards, AirPort Utility, and iAd Gallery are about ‘iOS 6 Compatibility’ … but not all. For example, iPhoto now supports the iPod Touch 4th generation – how cool is that? It also allows editing of images up to 36.5MP on the new iPad or iPhone 5. Also, all of the office apps offer much greater interoperability than ever before.
But the one that really grabbed me was the update for GarageBand:
What’s New in Version 1.3
• Create custom ringtones and alerts for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch*
• Import songs from the Music library on your iOS device
• Play or record with GarageBand in the background while using other apps**
• Addresses a number of minor issues related to overall performance and stability
OK … so who really cares? What do these things even mean?
Well, creating ringtones is obvious, as is ‘Addresses a number of minor issues’. Importing songs from your library is a great way to work on lines or chord patterns or create mash-ups or remixes. But the big one is background play/record.
At first I thought Apple had taken an early jump on AudioBus, but that turns out not to be the case. A quick aside on AudioBus – it is a inter-app “communications channel for routing live audio”, and would allow you to have GarageBand recording while you are playing on a synth like Magellan. The promise of that is … breathtaking.
What this update does is a step in that direction – which in itself is MAJOR. iOS devices are viewed from the outside as ‘locked down’, and part of that is very limited app interoperability. Multitasking started to change that, along with copy & paste, and later Audio Copy which allowed you to record music in one app and drop it into another one.
With the new update you can continue to record in GarageBand while doing other things; you can start GarageBand and set things up and then control the recording from another app; you can have GarageBand in the background while iTunes is running and play along. The only thing missing is capturing the audio from another app.
So while there are plenty of concerns and criticisms gaining most of the attention – and much of it deserved – Apple has again made significant updates that add value to their already amazing mobile app suite. Things like GarageBand and iPhoto and the iWork suite have been making my iPad-centric life quite easy this week, and while I read about stuff that was NOT included I really appreciate each new addition.
What major app updates have you seen this week? Any apps with updates that have not gone so well? Let us know!