There are a lot of music apps out there, boasting everything from new-fangled musical instruments to clever ways to share songs. The hard part is figuring out which are the best in class and worth your time.
This, of course, isn't a comprehensive list detailing every good iOS music app that's available — it is merely meant to highlight some of the best that you might not know about yet.
For songwriters, a smartphone is an amazing tool. The ability to record audio and produce notes with built-in apps makes keeping track of song ideas so much simpler than the traditional method of handwriting notes and trying to remember a melody. The problem, even with a smartphone, is that all those tasks are still spread out.
Hum solves this by combining voice-recording and note-taking into one app. It is aimed squarely at musicians, which means you can tag notes with the key, capo, tuning, mood, and tempo. It's a simple app that works brilliantly, filling a void in the hearts of most iPhone-carrying songwriters.
The promise of app-based instruments is to make playing music easier. Fiddlewax Blue accomplishes this with several different instruments, all while retaining the essence of music-making.
You select the key you want to play in, and the app figures out which notes and chords work together. There are even more advanced modes that let users play any note, but the app is more appealing in its simpler, hand-holding version.
For the vocalist, there's also Fiddlewax Yellow, a harmonizer/beat-maker with the same ease of use. There are a handful of frequency presets and lots of different combinations, all designed to give the app depth.
Don't settle for the inferior sounds produced by the cheap white Apple EarPods that came with your phone. CanOpener is an app whose main purpose is to enhance the sound quality of your music software.
The app is designed to give the listener more control over the sound of the music without enforcing a one-size-fits-all mentality. To that end, there are dozens of popular preset headphone choices ready to go, as well as a customizable option. Lots of research and listening tests went into creating a more spacious playback.
All local music shows up inside the app, as well as all cloud-stored songs if you use iTunes Match.
It might not be apparent at first, but Mindie is a music-sharing tool. On its surface it looks like a video app similar to Vine or Instagram. But what it actually does is create short, personal music videos, which turn out to be a stealth way to get people to discover new music.
The visual component of Mindie adds a new dimension to sharing songs. When you soundtrack your memories with your new favorite songs, you create a much more intimate experience. You'll probably come away from Mindie finding something new to listen to — whether you planned on it or not.
Listen is all about the gestures. It's a replacement for your built-in music app that lets you control your music when you can't look at your phone's screen.
The idea is that by using the whole screen, instead of a tiny touch target, it's possible to control your music without expending any effort.
Tapping anywhere on screen will toggle the play/pause function, while swiping left or right changes songs. Pulling the center down to the bottom switches between different albums. All the album artwork is big and touch-friendly.
Not exactly a "music" app, Noisli is a noise-generating app if you ever need different types of everyday sounds, from the murmurs of a coffee shop to the buzz of a fan to crackling of a fire. In addition to being well-designed and easy on the eyes, it allows complete customization of sounds.
You can also combine multiple sounds to create your own aural scenes. If you're looking for an app that delivers strictly rain and thunder, another top option is Thunderspace HD.
If you want to use the iPad to DJ, Pacemaker is a great option. It is integrated with Spotify, meaning that if you are a premium Spotify subscriber, you can remix and use any of the millions of tracks on the streaming service. Pacemaker is also a well-designed app with advanced functionality, done in a way a beginner can understand.
However, another popular DJ app, djay 2, now also includes the same Spotify integration. Djay 2 has more customizable options, but it's also more expensive when you factor in in-app purchases.
If you want the midi controller interface options and other professional features, djay 2 is the way to go. Otherwise, Pacemaker should keep amateurs more than satisfied.
The best way to find concerts? That would be Jukely. The app scans your listening history across iTunes and multiple subscription services to provide recommendations curated specifically for you. The choices are also graded with how closely they align to your tastes, so it's easy to make a decision at a glance.
Right now there are only 12 major cities available — and yet Jukely is still hands down the best app to find live shows. If you aren't in one of the supported cities, it will give you the driving time to the closest city you select. The app also highlights the social aspect of attending a live show, letting you know who is going and facilitating an easy way to invite others.
If all that weren't enough, each show has an audio preview, acting as a radio station for upcoming shows.