Comprehensive range of sounds; Up to 32-track support; Easy-to-use interface; Speedy performance; Free
Inter-app compatibility limited for now; Can be overwhelming for beginners
GarageBand lets you and your friends create richly textured music, regardless of your skill level, all for free.
Whether you're a burgeoning music enthusiast or a full-fledged tune mixer, you'll love Apple's music maker, which is now free. Redesigned for iOS 7, GarageBand version 2.0 features many upgrades, including support for up to 32 tracks, AirDrop and Inter-App Audio . But just how good a deal are you getting?
Interface and Setup
Tapping one of these brings up a rendering of the actual instrument. For example, we selected Keyboard, and a piano with two octaves of keys appeared with a toolbar above it. You can change the range of the keyboard, sustain notes, lock the keyboard in position, play scales, run an arpeggio or choose a different keyboard layout.
At the top of the screen are options such as My Songs, Instruments, View Toggle, Controls (Rewind, Play and Record), Volume Slider, Track Options, Settings and Help. Hit the View toggle, and you are presented with a track-by-track view of all the sounds you have recorded. In this view, two buttons are added to the top bar: Undo and Loops. The latter displays a selection of 270 short tunes that you can preview before dragging and dropping them onto your project. You can also pull in music from your iTunes library.
Recording and Mixing
Of the 48 keyboards offered, four are free (Grand Piano, Electric Piano, Classic Rock Organ and Vintage Lead), while the rest require a $4.99 in-app purchase of all instruments.
We picked Classic Rock Organ, and the top half of the page was filled with additional sliders for different keys and ranges. While it can be overwhelming for beginners, musicians who know their way around a soundboard will appreciate the advanced options.
Your entire multitrack project can be shared via AirDrop, so bandmates can go off into their separate corners of the studio and work on their individual sections, provided they have GarageBand, too.
iLife for iOS 7 is a full-featured suite of tools for beginners who want to further their media-editing skills. GarageBand, which is now free, supports up to 32 tracks and offers a large range of sounds for maestros. Bands just starting out will also enjoy the app's Jam Session feature for collaborative music making. While the more advanced features may intimidate beginners, the app's generally simple interface offers plenty of fun for music enthusiasts.