GarageBand for iPad, More Fun Than on OS X (Review)


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With iMovie making and the iWork suite making their way to iOS, it was only a matter of time before we’d see GarageBand on Apple’s mobile platform. That happened on the day that Apple announced the iPad 2.

We always wrote off GarageBand as kind of a beginner’s application. Yes. GarageBand is a beginner’s application, but we were selling it short. It’s a decent multitrack studio for anyone who wants to record music and share it with friends. That in mind, know that this is coming from someone who for the most part ignored, and uninstalled, GarageBand in OS X.

GarageBand, like iMovie, is a trimmed down version of Apple’s more professional applications such as Logic and Final Cut. On the iPad, GarageBand is even further trimmed from the desktop version, but it works perfectly on the device. Many of the basics are there: keyboards, drums, Apple Loops and audio recording. You can drop in new tracks by tapping on the ‘Plus’ button in the lower-left corner, and from there choose the instrument you want to add to your song.

You have drums, keyboards, a guitar amp that works with the iPad’s audio in, an audio recorder, a sampler and Smart drums, keys, guitars and bass. The smart instruments are designed for beginners. They can pick an instrument and have it play a groove in time with the song based on a musical key and scale they want. It sounds simple, but there are actually some interesting variations for those who want to play around with it.

Apple has also incorporated some clever tricks. Instruments like the drums are velocity-sensitive. This seems to be based on accelerometer data. When you tap harder, it rocks the iPad a bit, this tells the instrument to play louder. Also interesting is that the drum sounds change based on where you tap. For instance, tapping in the center of a snare triggers a drum sound. Tapping around the edge can turn that into a rim hit.

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The strongest part of this package, we think, is the sampler. It’s fun to take a random noise (such as tapping on a soda can with a pen) and turning it into a cool little percussive beat in our song. You can even play around with reversing the sound and trim, tune or loop it. This can create some very interesting sounds.

The Good

This application is is very simple, and very affordable at $4.99. It‚Äôs great for the musical types who like to get their ideas down quickly. The drums are cleverly done, and the keyboards are fun to play on the iPad‚Äôs touchscreen. We are also having a lot of fun with the sampler–we love it.

The Bad

Similar to our complaint with iMovie for iPad, there is no way to import audio content that we know of outside of recording directly into the iPad. This is a bummer as someone may create the music outside of Garage Band then want to use the iPad application to add some additional sounds or vocals.


We didn't have nearly as frustrating of an experience as we did with iMovie for iOS. Still, this won‚Äôt have enough to satisfy the experts, but it‚Äôs plenty of fun for us hobbyists. Smaller bands on a budget may also want to check this out if they already have an iPad. It won‚Äôt have the final say in recording, but it‚Äôs enough to share their music on the internet.

An import feature would be nice, so that users could bring in guitars from another song, etc.

4 out of 5


You Can Download GarageBand for iPad Here – $4.99


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