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Android music app development poll

Postby Team DeNiM » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:12 pm

We are three computer-science students who are developing a music making app for the Android platform as a course project. The main focus of the project is to explore interface ideas that takes advantage of the unique features of smartphones. The app will also be designed with regard to the limitations that a small screen size imposes.

We would very much like to know what features are asked for by musicians. So we have prepared a short survey that we're hoping to get some answers on. If you're interested in participating, please answer the questions below. (Copy-paste the questionaire into a new post and add your answers.)

You can also disregard the questionaire and just post your opinions and experiences on the subject.


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Questionaire:

Note that all questions are about making music on a stand-alone app on a smartphone, not music production in general. However, you can answer the questions even if you haven't used any smarphone music production app. If you want to elaborate on any answere, you're welcome to do so.


Which general type of interface do you prefer:
(A) Mostly resembles traditional hardware devices. (Think Reason or Caustic.)
(B) Mostly adapts concepts from computer music making software. (Think Cubase, Logic.)
(C) Solutions specifically constructed for a smartphone but that may feel less familiar.
(D) Something else (Describe)

Do you prefer interface with:
(A) High contrast color scheme, functional
(B) Aesthetically pleasing

Do you prefer interface with:
(A) Information in form of text
(B) Information in form of symbols

When making melodic sequences (baseline, lead, chord progression), would you mostly:
(A) Record it in real-time (on virtual keyboard or similar)
(B) Enter notes manually into sequencer

When creating your music, do you prefer:
(A) To have full control over recorded notes and chords.
(B) To have the app ”help you out” (Think apps like Bloom, Flourish, Figure)

Do you prefer:
(A) Many features and options, sometimes confusing
(B) Few features and options, intuitive


Have you previously used any smartphone app for making music? (Yes/No)

If Yes, please answer the following questions (Marked with *):

*Which app do you have most experience with? (Name of app)

*In what way do you think the interface of that app could be improved? (Describe)

*For what purpose did you mostly use the app?
(Trying out ideas / midi controller / live performance / timekiller / other)

*If you used a virtual piano keyboard in the app to record note sequences, how well did you think it worked (Scale of 1 to 10. Also add comment if you want.)


Do you have additional comments? Great! Please add them here.


Thank you for participating! You're awesome!


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PS.
For those who takes the survey:
If you're interested in getting a copy of the finished app, or maybe would like to try it out during development, send us a PM. (The app will be limited in features since we only have a short time for development.)
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Chevytraveller » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:41 pm

Have the audio latency issues inherent with the OS been rectified yet?.. That has been the principal reason for a lack of music apps on the Android platform to date and why IOS has taken such a massive lead in this area.

Without that rather fundamental issue being addressed then the questions in your survey are rather academic..



good luck

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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby BJG145 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:19 pm

Team DeNiM wrote:The app will also be designed with regard to the limitations that a small screen size imposes


If you intend to do anything with it beyond coursework I should design the interface with an eye on larger devices like the Kindle etc., because that's probably where the main market is. I can't really imagine using a phone to do anything very useful in a music-making context.


Team DeNiM wrote:(A) Information in form of text
(B) Information in form of symbols


I'd go for symbols as it makes it easier to adapt to different languages. Have you chosen any specific development platform like Moai or whatever...?
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby turbodave » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:25 pm

Hi, the main problem you will encounter will be screen resolution/size. Too many devices and therefore there will have to be visual compromises. iPhone..no probs as they are all the same (ish) . Dave
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Team DeNiM » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:43 pm

Chevytraveller wrote:Have the audio latency issues inherent with the OS been rectified yet?.. That has been the principal reason for a lack of music apps on the Android platform to date and why IOS has taken such a massive lead in this area.

Without that rather fundamental issue being addressed then the questions in your survey are rather academic..

Good point. And no it has not. But apparantly there have been some improvement in 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Initial tests indicate that it will work but it won't work great.
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Chevytraveller » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:49 pm

Team DeNiM wrote:
Good point. And no it has not. But apparantly there have been some improvement in 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Initial tests indicate that it will work but it won't work great.


Hmmm.. it's kinda like asking people what paint they'd like on a car that doesn't work then..

Maybe you should look at developing something on IOS


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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Team DeNiM » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:51 pm

turbodave wrote:Hi, the main problem you will encounter will be screen resolution/size. Too many devices and therefore there will have to be visual compromises. iPhone..no probs as they are all the same (ish) . Dave

That's part of the challange. Can you design something that is scalable and useful even on a 240x320 display? We don't know yet.
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Persian Bit » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:03 pm

Which general type of interface do you prefer:
(B) Mostly adapts concepts from computer music making software.

Do you prefer interface with:
(B) Aesthetically pleasing

Do you prefer interface with:
(B) Information in form of symbols [but with some kind of tooltip or help baloon available]

When making melodic sequences (baseline, lead, chord progression), would you mostly:
(B) Enter notes manually into sequencer
because of latency and other issues

When creating your music, do you prefer:
(A) To have full control over recorded notes and chords.

Do you prefer:
(B) Few features and options, intuitive


Have you previously used any smartphone app for making music? (Yes/No)
No. not for making serious music. just to memorise ideas

*For what purpose did you mostly use the app?
Trying out ideas

*If you used a virtual piano keyboard in the app to record note sequences, how well did you think it worked (Scale of 1 to 10. Also add comment if you want.)

3 or 4 [max]. I've got a piano app that let you play a one actave piano , reord the notes and save it as a MP3 i guess. very simple one, but can be useful both for memorising stuff and soft tuning instruments. but the latency is really a problem..

Regarding interface design and the problem with too many devices and resolution, with a smart programing the interface can be created as some kind of 'vector' so it can be resized and fit in any screen\resolution. 'Synth Maker' interface is one of the best examples.

Generally i think some kind of 'Re-Birth' [propellerheads] would be cool for a smart phone. you really don't need much further.


PS. I don't know if multi touch is possible on android phones. so that piano app was mono phonic. no chords. a big problem.
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Team DeNiM » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:15 pm

BJG145 wrote:
If you intend to do anything with it beyond coursework I should design the interface with an eye on larger devices like the Kindle etc., because that's probably where the main market is. I can't really imagine using a phone to do anything very useful in a music-making context.

I think you're right. And it's not intended for market. It's more about identifying a problem domain and finding a solution. We target smaller devices specifically because they require a radically different approach than desktop apps.
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Team DeNiM » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:13 pm

Chevytraveller wrote:
Hmmm.. it's kinda like asking people what paint they'd like on a car that doesn't work then..

Maybe you should look at developing something on IOS



It works, it just has a busted windshield.
We think that the latency issues will eventually be resolved, so we dont see it as a wasted effort.
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Matt Houghton » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:32 pm

The latency issues make real-time stuff like playing virtual instruments impossible right now. It's much improved, but still useless in that respect. However, this doesn't prohibit the use of Android for recording applications where no foldback is required. Nor does it prohibit basic mixing applications. So my advice would be to focus on those areas first, and add more 'playable' elements like virtual instruments and guitar modeling later. My bet is that the moment the latency issues are sorted then you'll see a mass influx of Android applications ported from iOS. I know that IK Multimedia, for example, are ready and waiting for the right time!

There's currently an issue with hardware as well, in that there are so many different handsets and tablets around, many with different connectivity. The different form factors of Android devices also mean that there are fewer bespoke bits of hardware than for iOS devices, which can be docked in mixers, guitar effects boards, MIDI guitars and all sorts of things now.

However, what most Android hardware *does* possess right now is a USB port. So there's scope to develop better generic drivers for existing external USB hardware such as audio interfaces, USB music and video mics and so on. There's one driver that I've found but it's not great (maybe I've missed some). Combine development of a DAW-type software, or a multitrack recording app with something new on USB drivers and you could open a lot of doors in the Android audio world.

In terms of screen size, I think that's a bit of a red herring. You don't need everything to be scalable. But you probably do need to detect the device and at least know whether you're dealing with a phone, 7" or 10" tablet and adjust the layout accordingly. Bear in mind that with phones there's a trend towards larger handsets now, too (Samsung Galaxy SIII and Note for example).

Hope this helps, and good luck!
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Hazelelsie » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:05 am

Yes, It was a fact point. Thank you for your useful information.
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Re: Android music app development poll

Postby Bogmusic » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:33 pm



Which general type of interface do you prefer:
D - I prefer a flexible non prescriptive interface which allows me to work in a different way on each project. The key to Reason's success for me is not the resemblance of hardware, it's the ability to build up a unique rig from scratch without needing to enter a single menu.
Different pages/screens for different processes is preferable to all in one interfaces which then need a means of saving different screen layouts.

Do you prefer interface with:
(A) High contrast color scheme, functional
(B) Aesthetically pleasing
(c) I prefer customisable - it's never going to be aesthetically pleasing to everyone anyway, and its nice to share custom settings with fellow users

Do you prefer interface with:
(A) Information in form of text
(B) Information in form of symbols
(a+b) Symbols with switchable text hints (for initial learning and memory loss moments)

When making melodic sequences (baseline, lead, chord progression), would you mostly:
(A) Record it in real-time (on virtual keyboard or similar)
(B) Enter notes manually into sequencer
Either/or - for me both methods are essential

When creating your music, do you prefer
(A) To have full control over recorded notes and chords.
(B) To have the app ”help you out” (Think apps like Bloom, Flourish, Figure)
Personally I prefer (a) to have full control however I appreciate the creative potential of having automated "helpers" and ideally these would be user re-programable to make them available as creative tools in their own right.

Do you prefer:
(A) Many features and options, sometimes confusing
(B) Few features and options, intuitive
( leading question alert!)
A lack of features does not necessarily lead to a more intuitive program, what is more important to me is consistency so that once I have got my head round the way an app wants to be driven, all of the different features follow the same logic.

Have you previously used any smartphone app for making music?
Yes

*Which app do you have most experience with?
Auria

*In what way do you think the interface of that app could be improved?
I love the way the mixer switches to long throw faders in portrait mode and editing waves on a touchscreen is a joy to behold. An improvement would be a "big transport" mode. Maybe a double click on the stop button to enlarge the transport controls to full screen so once I have armed a track the entire screen is handed over to the transport controls.

*For what purpose did you mostly use the app?
Recording ideas, phrases and riffs and then later on mixing and comping - mainly for personal pleasure

*If you used a virtual piano keyboard in the app to record note sequences, how well did you think it worked
8 - the problem is the multi gesture commands in the ipad are activated when I play chords of more than three notes. It's the digital equivalent of knocking your synth off the keyboard stand!

"You're awesome! "
No. Stop abusing the word awesome.
Go to Durham Cathedral on one of the rare occasions that they allow the bass notes of the organ to be played. Stand next to one of the two foot square pipes and watch your jeans flapping. THAT'S awesome.
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