Why Are There No Good DJ Apps For Android?

djpad

DJing on Android - it’s like iOS a couple of years ago.

If you don't own an Apple mobile device then perhaps you do own a smartphone or tablet running the Android operating system. Indeed, Android currently accounts for the largest market share of smartphone devices - so why do we not hear much about DJ apps (or indeed any music apps) on Android? We get asked all the time to cover Android DJing apps and music services, but up until now we've struggled to find anything worth reporting to you. So why might this be?

The answer is that there are some serious limitations facing Android music and DJ app developers. These are the main ones:

1. Compatibility
There are hundreds of device models from a large number of different manufacturers running Android OS, which means trying to develop an interface that fits well on all (or as many as possible) is difficult.

The hardware specification across the model range is also going to affect what the app can achieve. On iOS there are less than 15 variations of the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, which keeps things for a developer much simpler.

2. Audio limitations
Android faces the same issue that iOS has with a single stereo output, so you will still need to use a splitter cable for cueing/master output with any DJ app. But for Android it's even worse; in some devices USB audio output isn't yet an option, as there's no method of bypassing the internal DAC to get a quality audio signal like you can with the Camera Connection Kit (CCK) on iOS.

Latency (the time taken between taking an action on the device and seeing/hearing the result) also appears to be a major issue on Android which is deterring serious developers. If you have a DJ app on such a device, you really do need the "Play" button to work immediately!

3. Tablet take-up

Has anyone told the iMect Team (DJ Player) about this?

The tablet side of the Android market seems to be stuck at an impasse. Developers aren't producing apps for Android tablets because those devices aren't selling like the iPad does.

However, those devices may not be selling because of the limited number of apps available for them. So basically the nascent Andriod DJ and music app market is in a catch 22 sitation.

Looking to the future

So where do we go from here? Well, some glimmers of hope lie in the following:

  • There is no fee to develop on Android - compared with a yearly subscription for iOS
  • Development is much more open than the tightly controlled iOS environment - That's not to say it isn't still challenging, but this should allow developers greater freedom in deciding what their apps can do and what resources they can use
  • There is no lengthy approval process when submitting an app for Android - Depending on your stance this is either brilliant news because your app gets to the store quickly, or it's the opposite because the lack of control means there's a lot of dreadful apps potentially making it difficult for your app to get noticed

Some apps to watch
A small number of DJ apps on Android are already worthy keeping an eye on (at least, they stand out compared to the rest of those so-called DJ apps available for this platform):

  • DJPad - this is a relatively new one to Android and as such is still very much in development
  • aDJPro - this feels a lot like a rough version DJ Player / Red Bull BPM DJ, but without the depth or quality of functionality
  • Droid DJ - a seemingly popular, yet still basic app

Conclusion

The apps around now lack many of the key features enjoyed by those on iOS, and the hardware diversity is possibly the most restrictive hurdle for developers to overcome successfully. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the mobile and tablet markets are constantly shifting, so the dominance of DJ apps on iOS may not last forever. Yet with the enthusiasm of several large manufacturers such as Vestax and Numark in iOS compatible hardware, it will take time and a leap of faith away from iOS for things to reach the same point on Android.

The limited number of DJ apps currently available on Android feels similar to the situation a couple of years ago when early versions of apps on iOS started to appear, so there's some way to go yet if you're holding out for something to DJ on using your Android tablet or smartphone.

Do you use Android DJ apps? Are you an app developer on iOS considering porting your code to Android? Are there any "DJ app" hidden gems in Google Play (aka Android Market)? Please let us know your thoughts below.

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Comments

  1. If Google comes out with a “Nexus” tablet there would be development into all the Android tablet apps.

  2. Kim Winther says:

    I read that Latency is really a big issue. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab and I have admitted to myself that if I ever want it to be part of my DJ’ing I have to buy an iPad. But then again I couldn’t see myself without a hardware controller.

    Here’s why audio developers are staying clear of Android:

    1) Lack of Application Programming Interface support
    2) Consistency
    3) Lack of USB Audio and MIDI support.
    4) Lack of stardardized (or indeed any) dock connector.
    5) Testing.
    6) Developer Tools.
    7) Low latency audio is a minefield on Android.
    9) Market share.
    10) Content protection.

  3. sameoldsong says:

    this is an overlong discussion given that the answer is so simple: android lacks the driver architecture, there is nothing that’s equivalent to ios’ core audio.

    the problem is well-known. my understanding is low-latency drivers have been requested years ago on google’s android-related mailing lists/forums.

  4. Rhythmic Fistman says:

    There’s only one real issue here: audio latency.

    AKA Issue 3434:
    http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=3434

    Until it’s fixed, Android as a platform for audio apps is dead in the water.

  5. All of the above is true. If there is no unified parts in each handset and tablet, it is difficult to make an app that would work on all those units.
    iOS runs on specific devices with the SAME guts. Since there are SO many android devices, and SO many manufacturers of the devices, it would be a nightmare to call out incompatibility on specific devices.
    I have had 3 Android phones since the G1, and have only used them for recording jams on the acoustic, or humming melodies for later.
    I look forward to the day Apps like the type that run on iOS can run well on Android. Till then I have my iPod touch and iPad :)

  6. Now Something i would be interested in would be a custom ROM/firmware for android actually geared towards DJ’s. when you have an open source OS like android you can go in and play with many of the firmware and software settings and ideally this could help ease some of the pains of the android clusterf#ck.

    Could a developer not choose a handful of the most powerful/popular android phones and create such a thing? (This id my disclaimer of ignorance as far as coding and creation of custom rom’s comes into play. I have flashed and rebuilt my phone, but only with others pre built roms)

  7. Quite often overlooked shortcomming:

    On most Android implementations, there is a serious lag betwen the time when you touch the screen and the time app reacts to the touch.

  8. I’ve used Touch OSC on my Android Tablet. It worked decently, but I felt like my laptop was struggling. I’m going to do more testing and also try Touch OSC on my iPhone to see if it’s my laptop or my tablet.

  9. I own a Motorola Xoom and just like others, I haven’t had much luck with DJ programs… The only one that works reliably is called Party Mixer which is just an audio player with a crossfader (not much you can do, but it doesn’t hang or crash). On the other hand, if you like to “produce”, check out an app called Caustic 2. I love this app, it allows me to use my tablet as a musical sketch pad and is very similar to Reason in that it’s a virtual rack. For DJing, I have even used it as a synth with a Dubstep wobble patch and the LFO set to the BPM of the track I’m playing and route it through an extra channel on my NS6 (nothing too special, but kinda fun to be able to do.

  10. I currently have and enjoy the new iPad (G3), but I really miss better hardware support in iOS. I would really like to see support of several channels of audio I/O and also better spec of the audio (88.2/96 x 24 bit). It’s *very* limited today compared to a Win/OS X machine.

    Hopefully future iOS releases will fix this. It’s great to se that some DJ apps supports at least some MIDI hardware such as my DJ2Go, but whish they could add support for my S4. That would be really cool and perhaps really usefull to the point that you don’t need to bring a Mac/PC.

    Even if I own an Android mobile, I’m not that interested to replace my iPad with an Android tablet.

    I think the real DJ and high end music hope for tablets could be Windows 8, or the versions after that (I don’t think the WinRT API supports MIDI today). That will perhaps be a more likely future audio platform and tablet alternative to iOS than Android?

  11. At the start of the year I bought the latest Android Nexus phone by Samsung, it has a high specification with regards to the hardware and was bought to see just what Android could do, primarily with audio apps. I’ve had an iphone and knew the ios platform could manage reasonable performance, limited by it’s tiny screen and lower power chip.
    The Nexus is clocked at 1650mHz with 1G ram and a 4.5″ full HD screen and is very capable of running complex software, using open GL sound gives a latency of around 90ms which is abysmal.
    However, all is not lost, there is an increasing amount of discussion and testing going on in the development community with some quality apps on the music production side, making an appearance: Caustic, and products from Microsonic are worth looking at.
    Midi via OSC is viable too, with low enough latency to, say, control Traktor or Ableton, TouchOSC and TouchDAW both work well, as does DJControl.
    Last week I bought a new ipad… Says it all really but change is coming.

  12. TechnoRage says:

    I think that when you serious about DJing, you can at least invest in a reliable and a durable solution as an iPad with a great DJ app! You need gear that is trustworthy when you’re on stage…

  13. Check out Fire DJ for the Amazon Kindle Fire. Simple tool set, but focused on reliability. May work on similar sized devices.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007XYU87Q

    Cheers.

  14. adj pro is amazing. it still has room for improvement but it does the job pretty decently

  15. Master DJ is up..! I’m happy with it. There is room for improvement, but it’s a good start..

  16. dj 3lackheart says:

    Another reason android doesnt have many (if any at all) is because people are filling up the market with apps for people that have no clue what theyre doing so that th art of music (personally more important the art of techno) is easy for anyone. Yes the audio thing is a major factor but in my eyes its because people think everything can be done an easier way and be just as good. I realize i am sorta rambling but im sick of thinking ive found a respectable or at least half way close to decent and useable they always either stop supporting my cheap devices or they make a change that makes it bullshit just like any android app. I do hope that i come across what im looking for but when i do if im not careful itll be too late and this fine art will be no more than a common skill and the day that comes is the day techno (as well as any other musical art that requires people to actually work) will die
    woah… i just turned into my crazy best friend.

  17. Alok Lahad says:

    It is unfortunate that no one updated the information. We are not in 2014 and things have changed.

  18. About the limitations of the stereo output.. you mention, yeah, you gotta split the output in order to have a cue and master channel… so my problem is, I can’t find an app that does that. At least none of the free ones will split the cue and master. But I can’t even try them all… there’s too many and most of them don’t have a single working feature.

  19. I think that attempts of using a facebook viewer for a precision real time solution is never gonna work. Tablet can be very useful music library item, but good piece of hardware is essential in some cases and cannot be easily replaced.

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