Category Archives: iPhone

Your iPhone Can’t Tell When You’re Too Drunk To Drive, But This iPhone Breathalyzer Can


In my experience, the iPhone already has a built-in alcohol detector. You can tell if you’re too drunk to drive by pulling out your iPhone and seeing if you immediately drop it, shattering it on the floor or dunking it in a seedy bar urinal. Pass the test? You’re ready to drive!

Alcohoot has another method of measuring the same thing. It’s a Breathalyzer that you pair with your iPhone. If you blow into it and you’re abov e the legal limit, it’ll call you a cab.

Alcohoot isn’t out quite yet, but when they launch, they are hoping to launch soon at a $70 price point. Cheaper than breaking your iPhone using the drunk test outlined above.

Via: Macgasm

from Cult of Mac


★ The iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 is really nice.

It feels great, looks great, has the best display I’ve seen at any size, runs noticeably faster, networks noticeably faster, is way thinner and lighter than any of its predecessors, takes better photos, and, in my six days of testing, gets totally decent iPhone-4S-level battery life.

But you don’t even have to turn it on to see how nice it is. Just hold it. You really have to. Apple boasted during last week’s event that they now measure the precision of the iPhone 5 assembly in microns. A micron is one-millionth of a meter. On the web page promoting the iPhone 5’s design, Apple states:

iPhone 5 is made with a level of precision you’d expect to find in
a finely crafted watch, not a smartphone.

Never before has this degree of fit and finish been applied to a
phone. Take the glass inlays on the back of iPhone 5, for
instance. During manufacturing, each iPhone 5 aluminum housing is
photographed by two high-powered 29MP cameras. A machine then
examines the images and compares them against 725 unique inlays to
find the most precise match for every single iPhone.

iPhone 5 in my hand, this talk of micron-precision, fine watch craftsmanship, and the computerized selection of best-match inlays sounds not the least bit bullshitty or blustery. It simply sounds like an explanation of the level of obsession that it takes to create a mass-produced device that feels this, well, nice. It even feels as though they’ve put some serious work into the iPhone’s one historical weak spot: the home button.1

The iPhone remains the flagship of Apple’s entire product line. It exhibits not merely the highest degree of fit and finish of any smartphone, but the highest degree of fit and finish for anything Apple has ever made. When first you hold it — where by you I mean “you, who, like me, is intimately familiar with the feel and heft of an iPhone 4 or 4S” — you will be struck by how light it feels, yet in a premium, not chintzy way. Within a week, it will feel normal, and your old iPhone 4/4S will feel like a brick.

Both aspects — the weight and premium feel — are related to materials. The aluminum unibody harkens back to the original 2007 iPhone, which, until now, was my all-time favorite in terms of how it felt in hand. The plastic 3G/3GS body seems like an anomaly in hindsight — it surely offered engineering and cost benefits, but looked and felt (and sounded, for that matter, when, say, you tapped your fingers on it or set it down on a hard table) pedestrian. The glass back of the 4/4S looks and feels very nice, but glass is heavier than aluminum. Volume and weight tend to correlate pretty closely with gadgetry. The iPhone 5, despite being more than a quarter-inch taller than the 4/4S to accommodate the larger display, is 12 percent smaller volumetrically. It’s thus fair to say the new iPhone is “smaller” — and in all but one way (see below) it really does feel smaller. But it’s 20 percent lighter, far greater than the reduction in volume. I’m sure there are dozens of engineering feats that contribute to this reduction in weight, but the biggest is the switch from glass to an aluminum unibody.

The pattern after 2007 has been for a tick-tock design schedule: new hardware design (iPhones 3G and 4), followed the next year by faster, more refined versions of the same design (iPhones 3GS and 4S). No one should be surprised by a same-size-and-shape iPhone 5S next year, but, it’s foolish to treat Apple as a creature of habit. But whatever Apple does with its iPhone designs over the next few years, I’d be very surprised if they move away from aluminum (or at least some sort of textured metal) as the primary housing material. It just feels right, and offers several practical advantages. As stated before, it’s lighter. And compared to the 4/4S’s glass back, it should prove far more durable. (Would you not love to know the number of cracked 4/4S glass backs Apple has replaced?) I believe this is a big reason Apple has not updated its bumpers for the iPhone 5 — this is a phone that was meant to be used without a case. There’s also a marketing advantage: few of the competing phones on the market are made of metal. (No competitor followed Apple’s move to glass; it will be interesting to see if any follow their move back to metal.) A typical consumer could easily identify an iPhone by touch alone, much less by sight.

Is it worth devoting the first 750 or so words of this piece to the iPhone 5’s surface appeal? I don’t know how else to convey the niceness of this thing. This iPhone 5 review unit is the single nicest object in my possession. I own things that cost and remain worth more (e.g. my car). But I own nothing this nice. It sounds hyperbolic to put it that way, but I offer this observation with no exaggeration.

And so thus the meta story surrounding the iPhone 5 is the same as that of the iPhone 4S a year ago: a gaping chasm between consumers so excited to buy it that they stay up until (or wake up in) the middle of the night to pre-order it, and on the other side, a collective yawn from the gadget and tech press. That story a year ago was lost amid the tributes to Steve Jobs, who died the day after the 4S was unveiled.2 If anything, that chasm is growing. The collective yawn from the tech press was louder this year; the enthusiasm from consumers is stronger.

Niceness is my explanation. The bored-by-the-iPhone tech press/industry experts surely value niceness, but they do not hold it in the same top-tier regard that Apple does. They are not equipped to devote an amount of attention to niceness commensurate with the amount of effort Apple puts into it. Apple can speak of micron-level precision and the computer-aided selection of the best-fitting of 725 identical-to-the-naked-eye components, but there is no benchmark, no tech spec, to measure nice. But you can feel it.

And that is what resonates with millions of people around the world.

The Display: Size

The new size takes some getting used to. For one thing, the new dimensions look weird at first. My first few days with the 5, it continually struck me each time I took it from my pocket that it looked too tall — like if my son went away to summer camp and came home several inches taller.

The letterbox mode for not-yet-updated-for-the-new-display apps kind of sucks. It’s not so much that it looks bad (my review unit is white; I’d wager money that the letterboxing is almost hard to notice visually on the black ones), but that it really throws me off while typing. My muscle memory knows where the keys are supposed to be relative to the bottom of the phone; letterboxing moves them all a row higher. This will surely be a non-issue within a few weeks as updates roll into the App Store, unless you’re a devoted user of any apps that are no longer maintained by their developers.

Video playback is better for the utterly obvious reason that it’s nice not to have to choose between filling the display and maintaining the video’s true aspect ratio. Reading is better — more words per page, more tweets or messages per screen.

The bigger display is a total win while using the iPhone 5 two-handed. But navigating the full screen while holding the iPhone in one hand is worse, for exactly the one reason why, even one year ago, I did not expect Apple ever to increase the size of the iPhone display: my thumb no longer easily reaches from corner to corner. (My hands are at least somewhat larger than average. Perhaps, counter-intuitively, this issue will not be noticed by the smaller-handed, whose thumbs don’t easily stretch from corner to corner even on a 3.5-inch iPhone display.)

Consider the windshield wipers on a car, and how, because they swing in a radial arc, they can’t reach the passenger-side top corner. Using the iPhone 5 is like that. There are two specific touch targets where this gives me trouble, both of which I invoke frequently. First, back buttons in the top left corner. I keep mis-tapping underneath them with my fully-outstretched thumb and then need to subtly re-grip the phone so that my thumb can reach. Second, tapping the status bar to scroll to the top of the current view. The top-left back-button issue is only a problem when holding the iPhone 5 one-handed in my right hand, but, I’m right-handed and so that’s the hand I tend to use it with.

There’s a reason Apple emphasizes typing in its justification for why the iPhone 5 display is larger but not too large:

Anyone can make a larger smartphone display. But if you go large
for large’s sake, you end up with a phone that feels oversize,
awkward, and hard to use. iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display
designed the right way: it’s bigger, but it’s the same width as
iPhone 4S. So everything you’ve always done with one hand —
typing on the keyboard, for instance — you can still do with
one hand.

Typing on the iPhone 5 does feel exactly the same. And in my experience testing big-screen phones (mostly with the 4.65-inch Galaxy Nexus), it really is far more difficult to do anything on them one-handed, including typing. And I can reach top-left-corner back buttons and the status bar one-handed with the 5, it just isn’t as easy, and requires an ever-so-slightly different choked up grip on the device than I’ve used for the past five years.

There is no argument that some people really do like these big closer-to-5-than-4-inch Android and Windows phones. I was in a Verizon retail store yesterday (long story; don’t ask) and overheard a relatively small woman buying a Galaxy S III. A companion asked if she wasn’t worried that it was too big, and she said no, big was exactly what she wanted, because she doesn’t have a tablet and wanted to do a lot of reading on whatever phone she got. She even said she was thinking about the 5-inch Galaxy Note (which Verizon doesn’t carry). It was like a conversation out of a Samsung commercial. Such people surely think the iPhone 5’s display remains too small. But, trust me, there are going to be many long-time iPhone users complaining that it’s too big after they upgrade.

In an ideal world, perhaps Apple would offer two iPhone sizes — like they do with products such as MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and iMacs. A smaller one with the classic 3.5-inch display, and a larger (say, 4.5-inch?) one for people who want that. On the logistics side, this doesn’t align with Apple’s interests — economies of scale and the marketing simplicity of just one new iPhone per year.

But there’s another factor. I believe many people would choose poorly. Bigger looks better. It’s like the old chestnut about TV sets in big box stores — side-by-side, standing in the store, people tend to choose TVs that are oversaturated, the ones with the boldest colors, rather than the ones with the better, more accurate colors. I can’t help but think that many people would choose the big-ass iPhone in my hypothetical two-sizes scenario, and later regret it with tired thumbs sore from stretching. (My thumbs feel sore just by looking at photos like this one of the LG Optimus G.) Design is making decisions, and Apple has always decided what the best size is for an iPhone display.

So the question is, if a 4-inch 16:9 display is better than a 3.5-inch 3:2 display, why hasn’t the iPhone been using 4-inch 16:9 displays from the start? Cost must have been a factor. Bigger screens are more expensive, and the 2007 iPhone display was like nothing else on the market. Bigger displays also consume more power. But I think it’s really mostly about a subtle change in priorities, a reordering of the tradeoffs — and, let’s face it, a response to marketing pressure from the aforementioned bigger-seems-better retail showroom factor.

The new size is not a radical change. Both the display and the phone itself feel exactly like what they are: the same width but taller. The iPhone 5 remains one of the smaller-screened smartphones on the market. What Apple has arrived at is a reasonable compromise.

But if Apple offered me an otherwise identical iPhone 5 with a 3.5-inch 3:2 display, which one would I choose? Last week, in the first few days of use, I’d have chosen the 3.5-inch one. Now, though, one week in, I’m not so sure. My trusty old iPhone 4S feels better to use for tapping those back buttons and the status bar, but, it really is starting to look squat to my eyes. Give me another week and I suspect I won’t look back.3

Display: Quality

As I wrote in my first impressions after last week’s event, the integration of the touch sensor into the display moves the pixels significantly closer to the surface of the glass. This is very good. The ideal is pixels right on the surface, like ink on paper, and Apple is getting closer and closer every two years.

Color quality is amazing. (Schiller claimed on stage that the iPhone 5 display covers the full sRGB color gamut.) It makes the iPhone 4S display look dull and dim. Brights are brighter, colors are more saturated (but not grossly so, a la AMOLED displays), and blacks are incredibly black. It is almost impossible for me to discern black pixels along the display edge (like, say, the black status bar) from the thin black area surrounding the display.

No single display size can please everyone. But in terms of quality, I honestly can’t imagine how anyone could deny that this is the best phone display in the world. And I still think the iPhone 4/4S display ranks second. Apple has a lead here, which is interesting, because they buy these displays from companies like LG.


The camera improvements over the 4S camera are subtle, but real. Images look sharper and colors are more vivid. Low light performance is significantly improved, not just in terms of exposure, but also for autofocus. The lens is also ever-so-slightly wider angle (4.1 mm vs. 4.3 mm). I’ve uploaded a small set of comparison photos between the iPhone 5 and 4S to Flickr. This low-light shot of an action figure in my office is remarkably better than the corresponding shot from the iPhone 4S. In a nut, iPhone 5 photos look slightly better in daylight; they look dramatically better in low light.

Without selling a single dedicated “camera” since the groundbreaking but discontinued-in-1997 QuickTake, Apple has become one of the leading camera companies in the world.

LTE and Carrier Choice

Apple asked which carrier I preferred for this review unit, and I asked for and received a Verizon model. I’ve been an AT&T customer since the pre-iPhone Cingular days. My pre-ordered personal iPhone 5 is on Verizon.

Verizon LTE was fast and ubiquitous in San Francisco, and the same has been true here at home in Philadelphia. Your mileage may vary, but I’m switching for simple, practical reasons. Verizon has stronger signals in the places I visit most, better family plans with shared data, broader LTE coverage, and AT&T’s network quality seems to be getting worse, not better. Also, my iPad (3) is on Verizon, and it always has as good or better a network connection than my AT&T iPhone 4S. I couldn’t be happier with Verizon’s LTE on the iPad, and, after six days of use, the same is true with the iPhone 5.

The only two factors in AT&T’s favor are: (a) the simultaneous voice and data thing; and (b) the laziness factor — it would’ve been easier to order a new phone on my existing account than to do this switching thing (cf. the aforementioned anecdote about visiting a Verizon retail store yesterday).4

Using the iPhone 5 on LTE is nearly indistinguishable from using it on Wi-Fi. Web pages load in a snap, Siri parses input and responds promptly. It’s as big a difference from 3G (and whatever bullshit AT&T calls “4G”) as 3G was from EDGE.

Battery Life

I’ll leave the battery-specific testing to others. I just used the thing as usual. On Sunday I watched the entire Yankees game over 3G (I was at a family outing in an area sans LTE coverage), browsed the web, read email and Twitter, and by midnight the phone was in the red but hadn’t yet hit the 10 percent charge remaining warning. If anything, I’ve been giving the phone fewer sips of power throughout the day than was typical with my iPhone 4S, simply because I have only one Lightning plug. (I didn’t order any of the 30-pin-to-Lightning adapters, but I did order an extra Lightning-to-USB cable.) Battery life seems good, exactly on par with my 4S.


After my item the other day pointing out that the iPhone 5’s Geekbench score (1,600-ish, which I can confirm) is far higher than that of any PowerPC laptop Apple ever built, a few readers pointed out that Geekbench’s baseline of 1,000 is the “2003 entry-level Power Mac G5”. So, as of this week, we have computing performance in our pants pockets that nine years ago required a professional desktop workstation.

I wrote about this back in 2008, while making the case that RIM was screwed because the future of the phone market was really about the future of portable computing, and that RIM was a phone/messaging company, not a computing company:

Along the lines of
can’t-really-be-answered-but-gosh-they’re-fun-to-ponder questions
like, say, “Who’d win in a fight, Batman or Spider-Man?” or
Star Destroyer vs. U.S.S. Enterprise?”, here’s one regarding
the iPhone: What historical Mac is a current iPhone most analogous
to, spec-wise? I.e, complete this sentence: “An iPhone is like
having a tiny __ in your pocket?”

Think about this: eight or nine years from now, we should have phones that are computationally equivalent to today’s Mac Pro. (Maybe even sooner, given the sorry state of the Mac Pro at the moment.)

Bottom Line

The question everyone who hasn’t yet pre-ordered wants answered: Should you upgrade? My answer is simple. If you can afford it, yes.

There’s a reason why, just as with all five of its predecessors, it just says “iPhone” on the back. The iPhone 5 is all new technically, but it’s the exact same thing as an idea. Apple is simply improving upon that idea year after year in infinitely finer detail, like a fractal. It’s nice.

  1. Impossible for me to say, after just six days testing a single unit, whether this improved home button is truly an improved design. For one thing, on a few of my iPhones over the years, the home button only got janky over time, after thousands of presses over many months in varied weather conditions. For another, surely Apple gives the review units it passes out a once-over. A less-than-perfect home button would be rejected. But color me optimistic — this home button has a pleasing clickiness that, like the aluminum casing, evokes that of the original iPhone, which I think had a better home button than its successors.

  2. A thought that occurred to me the other day, regarding just how far along we already are in the post-Jobs era: Phil Schiller has unveiled just as many new iPhones as Steve Jobs did. (Schiller unveiled the 3GS in 2009, while Jobs was recuperating from his liver transplant.)

  3. This is one of those things that’s hard to judge in just a few days. I didn’t publish my review of the iPhone 3G until October 2008, three months after I bought it.

  4. There’s also the issue of grandfathered “unlimited” data plans on AT&T. I gave that up years ago in exchange for tethering.

from Daring Fireball

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Dan Chung photographs the Olympics using an iPhone, Snapseed and some binoculars

When you think of professional photographers shooting sporting events, you usually visualize huge Canon or Nikon lenses mounted on expensive camera bodies on top of massive tripods. But as The Guardian’s photographer Dan Chung proves, sometimes you can do just as much with a lot less. Throughout the Olympics Chung is photographing the games using only an iPhone, an app, and (occasionally) an add-on iPhone lens or some binoculars.

The stunning image of Michael Phelps shown here was captured by Chung using only the iPhone 4S with its 8 megapixel camera and the excellent iOS photo editor Snapseed (US$4.99 in the App Store). To get other images from the Games using his iPhone, Chung also sometimes chooses to shoot through the Schneider lens iPro Wide Duo Kit or with a pair of Canon binoculars in front of the phone’s camera.

Chung is obviously a photographer with a lot of talent, but it’s still amazing that these photographs were captured through a smartphone. For those interested in photography (or the Olympics) click on over to The Guardian where they are running a photoblog of all Dan Chung’s images throughout the Games.

Special thanks to Dan Chung and The Guardian for permission to reprint the image above.

[Image credit and (C) Dan Chung/The Guardian.]

Dan Chung photographs the Olympics using an iPhone, Snapseed and some binoculars originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 03 Aug 2012 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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from TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

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If Your iPhone is Tony Stark, LifeProof’s Case System Is Iron Man [Review]

Wish I had this for my (now broken) MacBook Air last night!  Fluids + MBA = !%$%@

If there were ever a medal for Most Staggering Misnomer, the iPhone would find itself in serious contention for gold; the little glass slab is so stuffed with useful functions it makes the “phone” element of its name ridiculously misleading. Consider the action-packed roles my iPhone has filled over the years: Bicycle computer; running partner; navigator; wilderness scout; survival guide; weather advisor; and visual story-telling tool, not to mention being able to score all these adventures to music. And yeah, it makes calls too.

The iPhone is the most indispensible piece of hardware since man discovered sharp rocks. Problem is, the iPhone is also a fragile weakling, easily damaged by sharp rocks, gravity or water — things that exist in copious amounts around precisely the places you’d want to use the iPhone to adventure with.

The people at LifeProof, however, have recognized this paradox, and they think they have a solution. They’ve come up with a quiver of clever, well-designed, mission-specific exoskeletons that work as a seamless, modular system, all designed around the core armor: a lithe, shock-resistant, fully sealed (yes, waterproof) iPhone 4/s case. And for the most part, it works brilliantly.



Clockwise from left: belt clip, armband, bike mount, case.

Case ($80):

Repeat after me: There is no LifeProof system without the LifeProof case. Once installed around the iPhone, this two-piece core component is designed to interface seamlessly with the various other auxiliary modules — and it did so with the precision of an interlocking wooden jigsaw puzzle.

The case itself is a marvel — almost impossibly light and svelte for the degree of protection it affords, which is considerable: LifeProof claims the case is fully waterproof to a depth of 6.6 feet (two meters), completely dustproof and rated to protect the iPhone from drops “onto all surfaces” from a height of 6.6 feet.

Frankly, our operating budget can’t afford a new iPhone every time a shock test goes amuck, so I was fairly conservative with the drop tests. Happy to report my iPhone survived through three drops onto a flat rock from a height of about three feet (half the rated height), about where it’s be dropped from if it simply slipped out of my hand.

Similarly, I didn’t swim with it. But the case flawlessly passed a shower test and extended submerged movement in about a foot of pool water.

I was also impressed at how easy it was to seal the iPhone in the case. I just popped the phone into one of the bottom of the two halves and snapped the front on, working my fingers around the perimeter to make sure the rubber gasket provided a seal (there was a constant reminder to do this courtesy of a massive yellow sticker with warnings that covered the back of the case) and snapped the clasp that covers the 30-pin port on the bottom into place. A plastic audio jack plug would need to be screwed in to make the case waterproof and fully dustproof. Popping the shell back open was simply a matter of inserting a coin in a slot on the case’s bottom left corner and easily levering the two halves apart.

Once installed around the iPhone, this two-piece core component is designed to interface seamlessly with the auxiliary modules with the satisfying precision of an interlocking wooden jigsaw puzzle.

And how svelte is it? Let’s put it this way: I could easily slide my LifeProof-clad iPhone into a jeans pocket and forget it was armored. The button actuations are designed well too, with the home button remaining extremely easy to work and flanges around the volume/mute cluster to protect against inadvertent movement during extreme maneuvers.

And here’s the kicker: If you pop for the compatible accessories to play with, not only do you never have to take the case off, but because the case is used as a mounting point, using these accessories is quicker and in almost all cases a better experience than if you were using a similar accessory without the LifeProof system.

Now for the caveats. The film covering the screen felt a little distant from the actual screen, and this gap sometimes made activating the screen a bit of a pain. The case’s 30-pin opening was just barely large enough to accomodate an official Apple connector; if you’re using a knock-off or something like a Wahoo Fisica dongle, you may have to file the connector/dongle down (once filed, it should fit). Finally, because the audio-jack port is threaded, the audio-jack cable accessory is required in order to use earphones; on the plus side, this screw-in system also allows you to listen to music while swimming or in the rain (assuming you’re using waterproof earphones).

My iPhone under almost a foot of water.

The threaded, waterproof audio jack cable. Note the spare audio jack plug near the bottom of the image.

Bike Mount ($40):

Next to the case itself, the bicycle mount left me the most impressed. In fact, it’s probably the best iPhone bike mount I’ve encountered — high praise from an ex-bike racer, technician and salesperson. The handlebar mount worked quickly, easily and secured well, thanks in part to rubber spacer options; the ball-and socket connecter allowed for perfect viewing angle (even if the screw-on collar was a pain to tighten); and  the meaty locking tab — a component common to all the accessories — was easy to activate and very secure. I had absolutely no qualms taking the system out on some rough, technical Arizona singletrack, and apart from a little movement of the ball-and-socket joint from not tightening the collar enough (pain), it performed flawlessly. Quite possibly the best bike mount system in the known universe.

Belt Clip ($30):

A great tool when hiking, backpacking, swashbuckling or navigating through the corridors of your office. Again, the system-wide easy-to-activate locking clip makes an appearance. The case came with a choice between two ratcheting clips of different lengths; the long one seemed ridiculously long. Works well with the LifeProof system, but doesn’t additionally offer anything new.

Armband / Swimband ($50):

I was somewhat non-plussed with the armband/swimband, probably because I didn’t try it as a swimband; I imagine the bulk, weight, and uncomfortable feel might be negated in water. I didn’t like jogging with it.

There are also other fun things you can do with your iPhone once wrapped in the core case, like teach it to float or turn it into an action cam with the help of a an inexpensive GoPro mount. For most people though, the case and one or two of the main accessories reviewed here will probably hit the sweet spot.


The new standard for iPhone armor, and an adamantine chassis for the rest of the system

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 

from Cult of Mac

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Mixdown And Share Your Musical Genius With GarageBand for iPad [iOS Tips]

Sounds sweet, right?

Recording a musical masterpiece with GarageBand for iPad is fairly straightforward, especially when using the “smart” instruments together to layer a song together. However, if you don’t get the music out of your iPad, no one will hear it. If no one hears it, how will you know how amazing it is? Let’s take a look at some basic mixing and sharing features of GarageBand for iPad.

When you finally finish recording your Smart Bass, Smart Drums, Smart Keyboard (and, yes, Smart Strings as in the screenshot above), and Smart Guitar parts, it’s time to mix that baby down and then get it out to the rest of the internet.

Open the song you’ve been working with this week and tap on the Track button in the upper part of the screen, just to the left of the transport controls (the start from bar one, play, and record buttons). You’ll then be able to see the multiple tracks you’ve recorded. They’ll all be green, as the smart instruments in GarageBand are MIDI performances controlled by software, not recorded samples, which would be blue colored.

If the volume sliders are not visible like the screenshot above, swipe on one of the instruments to the right, and the sliders will appear. Hit the play triangle at the top of your iPad’s screen, and then move the sliders left or right for each track until they sound right to you. Drums, especially the snare, should be loudest, along with any melodic instruments you want your listeners to pay attention to. The other harmonic instrumentation, like soft strings or padded out synths, can be quieter, just to set the mood. The important thing is to have dynamics – make sure not all the instruments are playing at top volume – unless that’s the effect you want, of course.

Soundcloud Options

Once you’ve mixed to your heart’s and ear’s content, it’s time to share your music with the world. Tap on the My Songs button in the upper left. This will take you to the song browser, where you will tap on the Edit button in the upper right. The rectangular previews of your song files will start the iOS wiggle. Tap on the song you want to share, and then tap on the familiar iOS sharing button, the one that looks like a square with an arrow popping out to the right of it.

Your options here are to share to Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes (where you can import your tracks into GarageBand for Mac as well as Logic, a more professional audio package), or send via email. You’ll need logins for each of the services, of course, in order to send your music there. Login with the required service credentials, tap through the various options buttons, including quality of compression in the options for internet services like SoundCloud.

And bam! You’ve just recorded, mixed down, and shared some music created by your very own self, right from your iPad. For a look at what someone who obviously can play an instrument can do with GarageBand, I offer you this, your moment of zen:

from Cult of Mac

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Record A Potentially Award-Winning Podcast With GarageBand [OS X Tips]

GarageBand is not only a full featured recording studio, a highly capable MIDI synth station, an electronica musician’s dream, or a place to record full songs without a day of music lessons. It’s also fantastic software for podcasting. GarageBand makes creating a podcast easy and fun.

Back in the heady days of the early 2000s, I recorded and distributed a podcast of my own, called The ANC Podcast. It was a short internet radio show that focused on local music in Anchorage, Ak, where I had recently relocated to. I spent some time working on the craft of creating a podcast, and let me tell you, GarageBand makes it much easier than it really has any right to be. Most of the podcasters I know use a Macintosh and GarageBand to get their internet audio show on, including the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose, The Portable Podcast, and The Touch Of Gaming Podcast, just to name (drop) a few.

To start your own GarageBand media empire, launch GarageBand ’11 on your Mac and create a new project. If you’re already in GarageBand, choose New from the File menu, then click on New Project from the project browser window. Click on Podcast from the available options, then the Choose button, and then name/save your podcast episode – GarageBand will open up it’s podcast-y goodness to you.

GarageBand will open with a special template just for podcasting, with a track pre-populated with sound profiles for a Male voice, a Female voice, and a track for jingles. On the right, you’ll see the media browsing pane. Click on the loop browser button (far lower right corner, looks like a loop of tape) to bring up the jingles, stingers, and sound effects browser. When inserted correctly, these will make your podcast sound more like a professional radio show than a basement recording. Not that there’s anything wrong with recording from the basement.

Click into the male or female voice track, depending on your voice type, and hit the red record button. Speak into your built in or external microphone naturally and normally, and record your content. Head over to the loop browser pane, and click on Jingles. Garageband has several to choose from, and categorizes them as Cinematic, Country, Electronic, Jass, Orchestral and more, so you can find just the right mood to set at the beginning of your podcast. Once you choose a Jingle, drage it to the left side of GarageBand, into the Jingles track.

Now click on Stingers. These are the little sounds that come in under audio titles, or between sections of a podcast. Find one that fits your podcast theme, and drag it over in the appropriate place underneath the tracks already containing music. A new track will be created, called Stingers.

Building your podcast with just these few components will take your podcast to the next level. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next podcast to be featured in the new app for iOS? Either way, you’ll have a ton of fun making a podcast with GarageBand, and it will help you focus on content, not on audio engineering. Though, of course, that will help, too.

Let us know how it goes in the comments below.

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Sweeten Your Tunes With Smart Keys And Smart Guitar In GarageBand For iPad [iOS Tips]

Once you’ve laid down a solid rhythmic foundation with your drums and your bass, it’s time to sweeten things up with some different sounds, like guitar or keyboards. GarageBand for iPad makes this sincerely easy, with Smart Keys and Smart Guitar, letting you widen the range of harmonic counterpoint in any arrangement, regardless of any experience with real instruments.

All the work is done by your iPad and the GarageBand app, just like with the Smart Bass and Smart Drums functionality discussed earlier. Simply launch GarageBand for iPad and follow the steps below, and you’ll be listening to your own sweet tunes in your own sweet time.

Once GarageBand is launched, you’ll want to get to the Instruments section, which is accessed via a button in the upper left of the screen. Tap that, and you’ll be able to swipe left or right through the different musical instrument pictures. Let’s start with some keys, using the Smart Keyboard. Tap the icon of the keyboard keys encircled by a gear icon.

Set up your tune the same way as with Smart Bass, turning the AutoPlay setting to a number between one and four. Choose the type of keyboard you want to have play from the eight choices available, from Grand Piano to Classic Rock Organ to a variety of funky synths. Each keyboard will have a few different options, so feel free to play around with them. If you’ve been creating a whole song along with us, you’ll have drums and bass tracks to have GarageBand play along to. Tap the columns along the top half of the rows to play the right hand, and the smaller column sections along the bottom half of the rows to play the left. WHen you’re ready to keep your performance, hit the red Record button at the top and have at it.

Next, tap on the Instruments button again, but this time swipe over to and choose Smart Guitar. Things should start to feel familiar, with the same type of instrument choice interface in the upper left, and AutoPlay options to set up. Hit play on the transport toolbar at the top, and tap along with the same chords you used in the rest of your song. But now, let’s try something a little more advanced.

Switch the toggle on the right side from Chords to Notes. You’ll see what looks like a regular guitar neck come up on the iPad screen. Tap the strings between the vertical lines, called frets, to hear guitar notes. Now, assuming you’re not a guitar player, but you want to sound like one, tap on the Scales button that’s discretely placed in the upper right corner of the fretboard. Choose a scale style you want to play with (I grabbed Major Pentatonic) and your fretboard will turn into a more stylized version of itself. Now, tap on the strings in the resulting rectangles. Each rectangle to the right will be the next note in a scale along the same string. Tap in one of the highlighted rectangles and drag your finger to the right all the way to the next highlighted area to the right. Sounds like a guitar solo, right? Mess around with this over your backing tracks and you’ll be surprised what you’ll be able to come up with, regardless of your guitar experience in the real world. Pro tip? The strings can be bent, or moved up and down to create vibrato. Sweet skeuomorphism, eh?

Save your song by tapping out to the My Songs list, and you’re ready to roll.

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Create An Electronica Masterpiece With GarageBand [OS X Tips]

Make yer own block-rockin beats!

GarageBand for Mac OS X is a full recording studio for your Mac. It allows musicians to connect microphones, guitars, basses, and other instruments for a fully analog recording session. It has MIDI playback and recording capabilities as well, allowing anyone with a MIDI capable keyboard to record right along with those instruments.

One of the less-touted features, however, is the Loops section. GarageBand comes with pre-recorded MIDI and sampled audio that fit together in various ways. Without knowing to play a single instrument, you can create amazing sounding music with GarageBand, simply using Loops.

The first step is to bring up the GarageBand Loops browser. Start GarageBand and select New Project in the start window. If you’re already in GarageBand with another project open, select New Project from the File menu to get this window. Click on Loops, and then on the Choose button in the lower right. Name your file something you’ll remember, and file it somewhere where you can find it again. Desktop, anyone?

The familiar GarageBand window will open. This time, however, the Loop browser will show up in the right hand pane. Note the different filter buttons at the top of this browser pane. Click on a musical style, like Rock/Blues, Urban, or World from the left column of filters, or click on the type of instrumentation in the column just to the right, filtering the list to only show Loops containing specific instruments, like Guitars, Piano, Synths, Bass, etc. The next two columns to the right are filters for tone and mood, filtering for loops Apple has categorized as Relaxed, Grooving, Melodic, Dissonant, etc.

Click the buttons to filter the list of available GarageBand Loops. For our example here, click on Electronic in the filter list. If you see the Column browser, or the Jingles, Stingers, or Sound Effects browser, click on the little musical notation item in the tab buttons in the upper left of the Loops pane.

Click on Beats in the second column, and click on any of the beats to listen to them. I chose Club Dance Beat for my song. Once you find one you like, click and drag the Beat’s name over to the Tracks window. A new track will appear, and a big green Plus button will show up. Drag your beat loop over to the far left, to start on the first measure. Drop the beat there. Hover the mouse over the upper right corner of the resulting green rectangle and you’ll see the extend cursor; it looks like a round arrow. Click and drag the corner, and GarageBand will extend out the Loop, with visual cues as to the beginning and end of each loop section.

Now, in the Filter list, click on Beats to reset the buttons. Click on Synths, and repeat the above process. Mix and match as you will, but create a new track for each new sound. It will make things easier to edit later. Once you find a synth track you like, filter to Bass loops, and bring a nice grooving bassline over. I was able to create the six track loop-based snippet in the screenshot above in about 5 minutes.

If you want to hear the whole thing put together, click the Play triangle at the bottom. You can also set the Cycle/Loop button so GarageBand only plays the section you’re working on, over and over. That helps get into the groove of your masterpiece.

If nothing else, I find this sort of creative activity calming, soothing, and a great way to make a couple of hours disappear. Your mileage may vary, but give it a shot, and share links to your music with us below, if you can.

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Lay Down A Fat Smart Bass Track With GarageBand For iPad [iOS Tips]

With GarageBand for the iPad, Apple has brought an inexpensive, very powerful music recording studio right to your favorite mobile device. This fantastic $5.00 app lets anyone with an iPad create, record, and enjoy making music, even if they have little experience with recording software or musical instruments.

With a killer beat in place, it’s time to add the second (mostly unsung) hero of modern music: the bass. Whether your tastes run to big, fat and bottom heavy or to quick, snappy and distorted, GarageBand has you covered. With GarageBand for iPad, you can create bass tracks that sound incredibly good with very little knowledge or expertise. Let’s take a look at the simplest way to do just that: Smart Bass.

Smart Bass allows you to play the four string instrument without any previous experience. I prefer to put down a bass track on top of some drums, but your preference may vary. If you choose to put drums down first, use your example from yesterday’s tip, or add a quick drum loop that stretches across eight measures. Then tap on the Instruments at the top of the screen to select Smart Bass. You may need to swipe left or right to find it. Once you do, though, tap it to open it up in your song.

Notice that the default view shows you a bass instrument in the upper left corner, typically the Liverpool style bss made famous by Sir Paul McCartney. Tap on the picture to choose one of the other eight bass sound choices. I grabbed Picked for this example. The background of the bass guitar changes to the bass instrument you chose, which is super fun.

Tap the Play triangle at the top of the screen to get your drum tracks rolling, and then take a look at the bass screen. There’s a toggle switch that lets more advanced bass players tap representations of the bass strings as they might on a real bass. Make sure the silver toggle switch is set to Chords. A new option shows up, and the strings disappear. The AutoPlay option allows up to four different patterns to play when you tap in the column under the chord names. Tapping on a new column changes the notes the bass will autoplay, while changing the number in the autoplay section will change the arpeggiation of those notes. If you turn off AutoPlay, the bass strings come back up, even with the keyboard bass sounds. Odd, but it makes sense. The strings will now play one of four notes within an arpeggio, but only when you tap them

Choose a bass sound, then one of the AutoPlay options that best fits with your drum track, then hit the red Record button at the top of the screen. Tap the chording columns in time with the music, and GarageBand will record the changes as you tap them out. Swipe across the measure ruler on the top to switch over to a new eight bars to record over. Repeat until your song is filled with sexy bass and drums. You did it!

Feel free to share links to songs you’re creating along the way – we’d love to hear them.

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