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Apple’s popular home music production suite GarageBand has been iOS-friendly on the iPad for a while now, and thanks to last month’s update Apple Updates iOS GarageBand App With iPhone Support [News] Apple Updates iOS GarageBand App With iPhone Support [News] Read More iPhone and iPod Touch users can finally jam along too. This article is for anyone who has never used GarageBand before, and is not sure what to expect. It’s also for anyone still considering whether the app is worth the token $5 Apple are asking (hint: it is).

Here are 5 reasons to drop $5 on a 5/5 piece of software.

A Truly Mobile Workstation

GarageBand for iOS transforms your device, be it an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch into a completely mobile music workstation. Not only do you have access to a selection of beautiful-sounding instruments (more on those later) but also a sequencer for constructing loops and full tracks.

Once you’ve recorded a section you’re happy with, hitting the sequencer button (always in the top left) will automatically place your newly recorded sample in the timeline. From here you can trim, squeeze, loop and move your recording around with ease thanks to the responsive touch interface.

The sequencer, workflow and control scheme are effortlessly simple to work with. You might find yourself leaving for work at 8am and by the time you’ve got into the office you’ll have half a masterpiece composed (provided you’re not driving, of course).

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Simple Or Complex – You Decide

Whether you’re completely new to the world of creating music or you’ve written a few symphonies in your spare time, GarageBand allows you to decide the amount of effort you’d like to put in. This means you can use “Smart” instruments to simplify pattern creation, or you can keep it real and manually record all of your sounds.

This is testament to GarageBand’s broad appeal; not requiring any prior experience to jump right in. Give it to your 9 year old daughter and she’ll keep playing till the battery’s dead. Let your dad have a go and he’ll probably want an iPad 5 Things To Consider Before Buying A Tablet PC 5 Things To Consider Before Buying A Tablet PC Read More – you get the picture.

The sequencer splits your track into sections, and this is by far the easiest way of working. You can specify advanced options such beats per minute (BPM), timing (e.g. 4/4) and whether you want the metronome and countdown on or off (something that iMaschine $5 App Review: iMaschine, A Powerful, Portable Groove Sketchpad [iOS] $5 App Review: iMaschine, A Powerful, Portable Groove Sketchpad [iOS] iMaschine is a new app for your iPhone from the clever chaps over at Native Instruments who are responsible for all manner of professional-level music software and hardware - Traktor and Maschine, to name but... Read More could do with).

Packed With Sounds

GarageBand puts a lot of instruments at your disposal and they are: a basic keyboard, basic drums, an audio recorder for capturing sounds from your device’s microphone (or an external source if you have the cables and setup), smart drums, smart keyboard, smart guitar, smart bass and a sampler.

The standard keyboard is by far the most dynamic of all instruments, and once selected you can choose from classic sounds like the grand piano to fuzzy bass synthesizers and wailing 50’s sci-fi tones. It’s a lot of fun – especially in “pitch” mode.

The smart instruments are there to give you a leg-up and simplify the process. Smart drums invites you to arrange different elements, such as cymbals and snares, onto a grid which then generates a beat. Move the icons around to change the beat, repeat until happy. Similarly smart bass, smart guitar and smart keyboard make it easier to create grooves and play chords.

The sampler is another interesting bit of kit. It allows you to record a sound, trim and edit before playing it back using the keyboard for a higher or lower pitch. Apple Loops How To Use Royalty-Free Music & Effects From GarageBand [Mac] How To Use Royalty-Free Music & Effects From GarageBand [Mac] Read More can be added directly from the sequencer and include a few hundred loops, melodies and vocal samples to keep you happy for a while, and you can always add your own via File Sharing in iTunes.

Connect & Export

One “instrument” I didn’t mention in the previous section is the guitar amp. This allows you to plug your guitar into your device and try out a selection of classic amps. Of course, you can record sections and drop them straight into your timeline with ease. To connect a guitar you’ll need the Griffin GuitarConnect cable, which costs around $30 and works with a lot of other apps (it also allows you to connect a keyboard or bass guitar).

Once you’ve created a song it’s easy to share via email or iTunes, plus you can even export in GarageBand format and continue your masterpiece on your Mac computer at home.

Endless Possibilities

And now onto the real reason why GarageBand is worth $5 – the possibilities for creating music are literally endless. Whether you’re after a workstation to create whole songs using external samples and a guitar, a live performer who can make use of one of the many sounds and instruments or a newbie to the music creation scene then GarageBand will fit the bill.

The range of included sounds are broad enough to tackle nearly any genre of music and that means you’re only limited by your imagination. If there’s one thing GarageBand ensures it’s that you’re not limited by your ability Top 5 Sites for Learning Piano Online Top 5 Sites for Learning Piano Online Read More , and that’s what makes it so fun.


So is this app really a serious contender in the music making world? Well, yes and no. There are plenty of reasons a mobile music workstation would appeal to a budding musician, and GarageBand will satisfy many for this reason. Don’t expect a thousand dollar studio production suite, but prepare for a pleasant surprise.

Add the fact that the app hasn’t crashed once in the 10+ hours I have used it, I’d probably still be smiling had I paid $20. Buy it.

Download: GarageBand for iOS @ App Store

Have you bought GarageBand for iOS? Have you made any music on your iDevice? Share your thoughts and musical masterpieces in the comments below!

  1. Alfix
    October 7, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Hi, can i import tracks into garage band? I have my songs in Ableton Live 9 which is not compatible with ipads and would like to use garageband instead. I have less than 32 tracks but every track is quite long. Whole project is about 3 gig. Many thanks.

  2. Comedianimator
    May 25, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I love the app. So easy to use. Tons of great instruments. I used it to create music for my animations.

    A good selection of instruments also it costs 0 dollars.

    I only wish it had more sound effects

  3. Rasheed Larney
    March 19, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I love Garageband for iPad for many reasons. One of them is: you can plug your iPad into your Mac and record directly to Garageband on your Mac by playing any of the instruments. Effectively, this is like using the iPad as a controller/instrument, which is awesome.
    However, one of the things I hate about the iOS garagebend is the Smart Guitar (and Smart Bass) user interface. It's awkward, unnatural and quite frankly rather dumb. If you want to strum a particular chord you can only do this by strumming in one particular, narrow vertical line. Miss it by a few millimetres, and you're strumming a different chord. This is not how natural strumming works. Apple should check out how Frontier Design did it in their popular Guitar and iShred iPhone apps: Chord are selected as buttons in one area, and the whole fretboard is available for free and natural strumming motion. So, one hand strums, while the other selects the chords. Here's hoping Apple can fix this.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 20, 2012 at 4:20 am

      Yep, you've definitely got a point. I quite like tapping out notes in guitar/bass view but I agree it can get a little annoying at times. I also can't seem to find any way of changing what chords I strum. I want an E, but I'm stuck with an Em - have I missed a trick?

  4. Joel Sheridan
    January 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Hi. I plan to buy a Apple ipad /macbook with the main intention of using garageband. I would be grateful if you could advise me as to whether the version on Macbook is far better than the Ipad version if they are comparable

    Thank you


    • Joshua Clarke
      January 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      I don't own a Mac, so I wouldn't know if GarageBand on it is any good. I know a lot of popular bands that use it, so it must be worth the money! But the MacBook is much more expensive than the iPad. I'd say go with the iPad for now, and see what you can do with it. You can always export your songs from the iPad to your Mac if you end up getting a Mac as well.

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