Best looper apps for iPad and iPhone

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looper apps iPad
You don't need a pedal, or even a guitar, to make amazing music with a looper app.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

A looper is a great musician’s tool, for practice and for making songs. Looper apps are also fantastic fun for anyone who wants to take a crack at creating a tune. Just hit record on a looper app, and make some noise. Then hit the button again, and your recording is played over and over, in a loop.

Then you then build on this, adding more layers. A guitarist can chop out drum beats, then some chords, and play a melody over the loop. A beatboxer can boom, boom, chick and spit into a microphone to build up what the kids call “sick beatz.” And Jimmy Fallon can sing a duet with Billy Joel.

There are many looper apps for iOS. Here are a few of the best.

How to send audio from one iOS app to another with Audiobus

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Audiobus mixer on a piano
Audiobus is like a set of virtual patch cables for musical apps.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you want to make music on iPhone or iPad, you can choose from an embarrassment of fantastic iOS apps. You’ll also find plenty of music effects and recording apps on the platform.

The problem is using two types of apps together, because iOS isn’t nearly as flexible as macOS when it comes to digging into the system. But with a $10 app called Audiobus 3, you can route audio between apps. That means you can send music from, say, a drum machine to an audio recorder, or from your guitar to a sampler.

Further, you can route audio from many apps at a time, letting you create as complex or simple a setup as you like. If you think of Audiobus as a set of virtual patch cables for your iPhone or iPad, you’re on the right track.

Slow down songs so you can learn them with Capo touch 2.5

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Capo Touch Steinberger iPad
Fantastic slow-downer app Capo Touch just got even better.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Capo touch is the iOS version of Capo, an amazing Mac app that lets you slice and dice a song, slowing it down so you can learn it on guitar or another instrument.

Developer SuperMegaUltraGroovy added some great new features to Capo touch version 2.5. If you’re a long-time user, you’ll appreciate the interface tweaks, the Apple Music support and the new audio-scrubbing engine. If you never used Capo, and you play a guitar, you should buy Capo touch right now.

Groovebox turns your iPhone into a toe-tapping music machine

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groovebox
You won’t be able to stop grooving.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you’re looking for a way to lose a few hours later today, you could do a lot worse than Groovebox, a free music-making app for iPhone and iPad. It’s simple enough to start making music as soon as you launch it, but offers enough depth (and enough in-app purchases) to keep you going for quite a while.

GarageBand for Mac now syncs your projects with iOS

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sync GarageBand on Mac
Now you can sync GarageBand projects from Mac to iOS.
Photo: Cult of Mac

GarageBand’s most recent update for macOS adds a few neat new Mac-only features, but perhaps its biggest addition is for iPad users. Now the Mac version of GarageBand can sync a cut-down version of any song with the iPad or iPhone, allowing you to add new tracks, then sync them back with the master project back on your Mac. It’s a feature that only came to Logic in January of this year.

This is big, because it lets musicians use the full power of the Mac GarageBand in their studio or bedroom, and still add tracks to that project from a phone. You could, for instance, take a mix with you to band practice, lay down some new tracks on your iPhone, then sync them back.

How to use Music Memos like a cut-down GarageBand

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music memos in action
Music Memos is like having two extra members in your band, only it doesn't run up the bar tab.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Music Memos app is just about about the best way to record musical ideas before they evaporate into the ether. For years, musicians used the built-in Voice Memos app to record snippets, but Music Memos, as you’d expect, is much better suited to the task. It can listen to you and record only when you start playing, it can detect the chords you play, and it can even add drum and bass tracks to your recording automatically.

This last feature is what we’ll look at today. We’re going to record a simple guitar track, add drums and bass, and send the whole lot to GarageBand on iOS for further work. That sounds like a lot, but once you lay down your recorded track, all it takes is a few taps of the screen. And remember, I use a guitar, but you can use any instrument.

How to plug your guitar into your iPhone and rock out

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guitar iPhone setup
This is all you need to make some awesome noise.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Short of learning air guitar, hooking a guitar up to your iPhone is just about the easiest way to get started playing music. But it’s not just for practice, or goofing around at home. You can record and edit serious music with an iOS device, and even produce whole records.

But we’re already getting ahead of ourselves. Today, we’re just going to hook things up and rock out.

Apple inks deal with social video app Musical.ly

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Musical.ly
Apple wants to appeal to tween and teen users.
Photo: Musical.ly

Update: Musical.ly’s partner 7digital denies that it is being replaced by Apple Music, with CEO Simon Cole saying it “just signed a renewal agreement with Musical.ly” and has “in no way ended our working relationship.”

Apple has reportedly teamed up with Musical.ly, a popular music-themed app for video creation, messaging and live broadcasting.

Starting today, Apple Music will be the service that supplies songs for the social network app, replacing joining existing provider 7digital.

iOS 10 hands on: Everything that’s new in Apple Music and Apple News

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News and Music ios10
Apple News and Apple Music get much-needed redesigns in iOS 10.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

iOS 10 brings much-needed design overhauls for the Apple Music and Apple News apps.

The big iOS update, which is currently in beta but should hit iPhones and iPads this fall, brings huge changes to the Apple Music UI as well as minor improvements to navigation in the music app. To see all the changes in action, watch the Cult of Mac video below.

4 apps that fix Apple Music’s shortcomings

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Want to enhance your Apple Music experience? Try these 4 apps!
Want to enhance your Apple Music experience? Try these four apps.
Photo: Ally Kazmucha/The App Factor