iOS 6 – the latest version of the operating system on which iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch all run – will bring a number of improvements to the way iDevices handle audio, one of which could be stereo headphone cueing for DJ software. Among the list of new features in iOS6 (full list follows), as announced in Apple’s opening keynote speech at the annual World Wide Developer’s Conference in San Fransisco this week, is “multi-route audio” – which we think could be that “holy grail” feature we’ve been longing for, namely dual stereo outputs.
The new music features list in full
The list of end-user features focused mainly on Siri – Apple’s voice recognition functionality – and its arrival on the new iPad. (Frankly, I’d rather not ask out loud what films Scarlett Johansson has starred in, something I’m sure we’d all agree is best kept as a private and quiet keyboard tap on IMDB… 😀 )
But the items of interest to DJs and musicians came under the “Software Development Kit” (SDK) section right at the end, and I’ve listed them here:
- Inter-app audio – This should allow apps to share audio between themselves. It remains to be seen whether this means the audio is duplicated as with “Audio Copy/Paste” (ACP) or referenced. This will certainly impact the forthcoming AudioBus approach of achieving the same thing which has been independently developed. This is the one music makers have been getting most excited about – for example you could share a bassline from one app with a drum beat from another
- Audio and video sampling during playback – Honestly, I’m not sure what this means, whether it even equates to what we (DJs / musicians) recognise as “sampling” but it is probably worth keeping an eye out for
- Web audio API – This should provide apps with access to a web-based methodology for creating and manipulating sound
- Multi-route audio – Are you thinking along the same lines as us? “Multi-route audio” could mean two independent stereo outputs, one via the headphone jack and the other via the 30 pin connector
The last of these items is the biggest news for DJ apps on iOS. I’m hoping that those three small words in italics on the presentation will bring an end to the stereo-to-mono workaround that is currently used by DJ.
Further news for iOS DJs
Of the non-music improvements, “In-App Content Purchases” is the most relevant: It should mean you can buy content from iTunes directly within DJ apps, which would be useful for some of the apps we’ve reviewed in the past such as iCrates. As with previous iOS releases, some older generations of the product line get phased out (typically you tend to get around three iOS releases before your device falls off the supported list).
So if you’re DJing from an iPad 1, for instance, I’m afraid you’ll still be using your headphone splitter cable even if iOS6 does bring true stereo cue monitoring for people with more up to date devices.
Heard any rumours about whether this new feature is what we think it is? What features would you like to see arriving in iOS to make the iPad etc better for DJing? Please share your thoughts in the comments.