iOS 13 wishlist: 6-ish ways Apple could improve audio

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This is what pre-iOS 13 audio looks like to a visitor from next year.
This is what pre-iOS 13 audio looks like to a visitor from next year.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

 

There’s one big thing I wish for when I kneel next to my bed at night, cross my fingers and think of iOS 13: better audio. Not better quality audio. That’s already great. I just want better control, and better features.

And this isn’t just specialized podcasting or music-making stuff. There are problems everywhere. You know how when you’re listening to music, and you open up the camera app, and your music stops playing? That kind of problem. Which is number one one on my list by the way. Check out the rest:

So last decade

The audio on iOS is quite primitive compared with other computers. It made sense on the original iPhone, where you only ever do one thing at a time, but now, with the iPad Pro, and decent multi tasking, it’s ridiculous. The iPad can only handle one audio input, and one output (although those ins and outs can be to/from multichannel audio devices).

More than one audio device at a time

You cannot, for instance, plug two USB microphones into a USB-C hub and use both. To user two or more mics, you have to use non-USB versions, plug them all into a USB audio interface, and hook that up. This isn’t just for mics. Any device that provides USB audio is subject to the same limits.

This gets annoying in more obscure ways, too. For instance, say I do have an awesome USB mixer, with lots of sources hooked up to it. And then, I plug it onto my iPad using a USB-C hub. If that hub has its own headphone jack, it may steal the connection away from the mixer. If you let the iPad’s screen go to sleep, it might even disconnect from the USB hub altogether, and then reconnect, without you knowing. Only you will know, because the audio will be interrupted.

Route audio between apps

You can currently route audio between iOS apps in two ways. AudioBus is the best way, which lets compatible apps talk to each other. Most music apps support it. The other is Apple’s AudioBus alternative, Inter App Audio (IAA — which is itself pretty glitchy and unreliable).

The problem is, apps developers have to add support for these methods. If you want to record Skype, then tough. Skype will probably never add AudioBus or IAA support. On the Mac, you can grab the audio output of any app in several ways. This should be possible on iOS, and built-in.

This would let you make recordings of YouTube videos, but it would also let you send microphone audio to both a recording app, and to Skype itself, while also recording the incoming Skype stream.

GarageBand

This isn’t technically an iOS 13 wish, but it is related to audio on the iPhone and iPad. Right now, the only way to get an audio track out of GarageBand is to mute all the other tracks, and then export the entire GarageBand project as a song. Repeat for every track you want to export. You can’t even just copy a section of your recording, and then paste it into another app.

There are workarounds, but they require third-party software, and you end up littering your iCloud Drive with multiple copies of your project.

Ask any iOS GarageBand user to list their top five problems with the app, and this will be on every one of those lists.

Better audio in Files app

If you have a folder full of audio files on your iPad or iPhone, and you want to preview them, you have to tap on them one-by-one, and let them load in a separate, full-screen player. We need something like the Mac Finder’s preview panel. That would be great for all file types, not just audio files. Even a play button next to the file in the list would be an improvement.

Add your own music to the Music app

This one is explained in the title above. The only way to add music to your iPhone’s music library is with a Mac or a PC. Ridiculous.

Lose that stupid huge volume bezel

This is another short one. Thankfully, the rumors say this one will actually be fixed in iOS 13, so you will no longer have the entire screen blocked by a Mac-style bezel when you change the volume on a video.

Those are my biggest wishes for audio in iOS 13. None of them is much of a reach, conceptually. Or even practically. All of these requests are already old news on other computers like the Mac and PC. It’s about time we got them on our iPads.