Are The Better iOS apps More Intuitive Than Desktop?

I have no experience with desktop and I am not trying to start a debate between the two. I would just like to know if others share my experience. I rarely use a manual and most non acoustic apps are rather inexplicable to me at first. Yet, if I leave them alone and return once in a while, each app seems to reveal itself in a very intuitive way. SpaceCraft is a perfect example. I hadn’t a clue how to use it, import sounds, play it as an instrument, adjust parameters, etc. I managed to route a static track to Cubasis early on, liked it and went no further. Yet when I returned to it a few days ago suddenly it made a lot more sense to me. I imported a couple of tracks I had made previously and I could play it as a melody instrument.

So what is going on? And do desktop users have similar experiences? I tend to think that the intuitiveness must be built in by the dev (Cubasis is another great example). Also, that my personal experience is the gradual accumulation of the pieces of the puzzle, tho I still can’t get midi out and midi in, no matter how often it is explained! It seems midi in means midi out and vice versa!

Comments

  • It's about the same. Once things get more complex, desktop is probably more intuitive.

  • @LinearLineman said:
    I have no experience with desktop and I am not trying to start a debate between the two. I would just like to know if others share my experience. I rarely use a manual and most non acoustic apps are rather inexplicable to me at first. Yet, if I leave them alone and return once in a while, each app seems to reveal itself in a very intuitive way. SpaceCraft is a perfect example. I hadn’t a clue how to use it, import sounds, play it as an instrument, adjust parameters, etc. I managed to route a static track to Cubasis early on, liked it and went no further. Yet when I returned to it a few days ago suddenly it made a lot more sense to me. I imported a couple of tracks I had made previously and I could play it as a melody instrument.

    So what is going on? And do desktop users have similar experiences? I tend to think that the intuitiveness must be built in by the dev (Cubasis is another great example). Also, that my personal experience is the gradual accumulation of the pieces of the puzzle, tho I still can’t get midi out and midi in, no matter how often it is explained! It seems midi in means midi out and vice versa!

    I think all things start of getting used to a certain workflow, both on iOS or on computers. Once how are into it other programs feel soon counter inuitive. Are you used to Ableton Logic feels counter intuitive and the other way around. Same with ios apps like Cubasis vs Modstep vs Stagelight. As Ableton user I find Stagelight super intuitive Cubasis is a drag for me to handle.

  • @LinearLineman said:
    I have no experience with desktop and I am not trying to start a debate between the two. I would just like to know if others share my experience. I rarely use a manual and most non acoustic apps are rather inexplicable to me at first. Yet, if I leave them alone and return once in a while, each app seems to reveal itself in a very intuitive way. SpaceCraft is a perfect example. I hadn’t a clue how to use it, import sounds, play it as an instrument, adjust parameters, etc. I managed to route a static track to Cubasis early on, liked it and went no further. Yet when I returned to it a few days ago suddenly it made a lot more sense to me. I imported a couple of tracks I had made previously and I could play it as a melody instrument.

    Didn't you have eye surgery between the 2 sessions? It has small text and lots of controls.
    So, seeing the options clearly helps.

    Desktop systems really push the complexity envelope and add features to justify large price points. But when you master a desktop creative environment it has features we will likely never see in IOS because it's very competitive. I'd imagine software designers compete to make applications really easy to master as a competitive option against the big complex DAW's. But honesty, I don't want to know because it quickly spirals into some big bucks to stay current.

  • Desktop is far easier for me, as I have a bug ol’ 43” 4K monitor to be able to see every minute detail when working, but as of late, iOS has been more rewarding.

  • @Ripper7620 said:
    Desktop is far easier for me, as I have a bug ol’ 43” 4K monitor to be able to see every minute detail when working, but as of late, iOS has been more rewarding.

    @Ripper7620 you said you have a “BUG” ol monitor” haha :-)

  • @stormbeats said:

    @Ripper7620 said:
    Desktop is far easier for me, as I have a bug ol’ 43” 4K monitor to be able to see every minute detail when working, but as of late, iOS has been more rewarding.

    @Ripper7620 you said you have a “BUG” ol monitor” haha :-)

    O dang! Now I cannot go back and change it.

  • @Ripper7620 said:

    @stormbeats said:

    @Ripper7620 said:
    Desktop is far easier for me, as I have a bug ol’ 43” 4K monitor to be able to see every minute detail when working, but as of late, iOS has been more rewarding.

    @Ripper7620 you said you have a “BUG” ol monitor” haha :-)

    O dang! Now I cannot go back and change it.

    @Ripper7620 its cool leave it It’s original.

  • Desktop setups can be made far more intuitive by using iPads as controllers!

  • @ElectroHead said:
    Desktop setups can be made far more intuitive by using iPads as controllers!

    Do you need to use a Mac to do this?(I’m guessing yes!)

  • I would say it varies by app, not by platform. Whether desktop or mobile, some apps are intuitive, others no so much. And it’s subjective, too; different people may find the same app easy or hard.

    For me, the big advantage of mobile (besides mobility) is the touchscreen; these days it’s hard for me to go back to turning all those little knobs with a mouse.

  • @shabudua, In de words ob de famous Kliban...

    Lub dem liddle mousies
    Mousies what I lubs to eat
    Bite dey liddle head off
    Nibble on de tiny feet.

    (My liberal degradation ob de langage)

  • edited May 11

    iOS music apps can be individually very intuitive but no two apps are alike

    It’s a real Wild West in UI design terms. Skeuomorphicism is alive and well for music apps both on desktop and iOS for good and bad.

    One of the best features of iOS and touch screens in general is the direct control you have. You see something and touch it directly to manipulate it.

    Sliders and buttons are very intuitive. They behave as you’d expect.

    There’s nothing much intuitive about a knob on touch screens though. You can’t grab it and rotate it so how does it work? All apps seem to have a slightly different take on how you ‘rotate’ a knob in iOS. Drag vertically? Horizontally? Kind of in a circular motion? Then you need to remember which app responds to which way to ‘turn’ it. But it’s at least discoverable as you know that a knob should be turned.

    One of the biggest problems regarding an app being intuitive with iOS is discoverability. There are so many gestures to learn in so many apps. Everything has to be memorised.

    Apple are one of the worst offenders for this.

    I would say that some of my favourite apps on iOS are very well designed and are lovely to use. But they’re not all ‘intuitive’. Far from it.

    iOS is much easier to use for most people for simple things and many apps that are a joy to use on iOS wouldn’t be appropriate on the desktop at all.

    But there are some apps I’ve used on iOS which are horrendous to use. Copying a generic hardware box down to the awful menu system and multi use buttons should be illegal ;-) if you see a ‘Shift’ key they’ve blown it!

    So TLDR

    IOS is the most intuitive by far.

    iOS is the most unintuitive by far.

  • I just think they tend to be simpler. I think iOS and desktop GUIs run a similar contiuum of intuitive to not, but the limits of complexity for iOS still mean that the non-intuitive ones can be easily figured out.

    But I'm also wondering if what I would assume is intuitive is really even ideal for a touch screen device. Intuitive would often mean it is quickly understandable by referencing prior real or graphic UI designs.

    E.g. I'd compare Tardigrain to anything by Brambos. Brambos uses typical GUI elements that are common across platforms and hardware. And where they don't, e.g. Noir, they follow classic references, like up is higher pitch, big is louder. I wouldn't say there was even a learning curve for me with any of them. Just borrowed knowledge from other places. Intuitive in the sense of being able to tweak to get the sounds I wanted, and no manual needed.

    Tardigrain instead, took me a few minutes of pecking on each GUI element to read what they did and testing to understand. Still, painless because there just are not that many elements.

    Again, not meant as a criticism at all for Tardigrain. Because it is beautifully designed for playability and getting interesting musical results really quickly.

    So I guess in sum, I hope touchscreen develops its own common GUI elements, as Tardigrain or Synthscaper does with the XY pads on each key and pad.

  • @Multicellular, do you have SynthScaper? How does that rate for you as an intuitive app? (Just getting started with it).

  • edited May 11

    @LinearLineman said:
    @Multicellular, do you have SynthScaper? How does that rate for you as an intuitive app? (Just getting started with it).

    Overall it is not set up for ease of understanding, but for easy of, i would call it, macro’d performance options, see the three disc setup. That is one good example I think of taking real advantage of touch screen. You can change the sound by, e.g. using three fingers on the discs and one on the key xy simultaneously.

    But nor is it an overly long learning curve.

  • @Multicellular .... three fingers on the discs and one on the xy... I'd like to see a video of that!

  • edited May 11

    @LinearLineman said:
    @Multicellular .... three fingers on the discs and one on the xy... I'd like to see a video of that!

    Am I wrong that that made me think ‘that’s what she said’ ?

  • The one thing that a desktop has over iOS in my work flow, is in using Maschine MK3 for all percussion, I have yet to hear anything that sounds as good, and is as easy to use, and has as many options for samples, and sampling. Just simply the best instrument I’ve ever come across.

  • I'd sum them up as simply being different.

    However one area where the desktop leads iOS significantly is DAW design, features and capabilities. Without going into too much detail, the core reasons that desktop DAWs lead over iOS are:

    • They've evolved over a far longer period of time and DAW design is a complex process.
    • iOS hardware: the ability to use large format/multiple displays aids UX considerably on the desktop.
    • Choice: the range of available desktop DAW's fit a very wide spectrum of use cases. Most musicians find one with the least amount of irritations for their ideal workflow.
    • The quality and range of bundled instruments/FX tends to be better and more flexible than iOS options. iOS is improving in this department, but the most sophisticated iOS DAWs would be classed as entry level desktop products.
    • UX design tends to be more considered in the better desktop DAWs. But in fairness, this is to be expected as many of them have at least 20 years of artist feedback informing their design.
    • Desktop DAW's are not only more performant generally, the better ones are fully multithreaded so are capable of utilising far more processor punishing instruments and FX that their iOS peers.

    The biggest strength of iOS DAW's is their approachability. But approachability isn't always partnered with good UX. Nanostudio 2 probably has the most refined UX on the platform and Auria the most sophisticated range of production options (including those made available by platform exclusive plugins).

    For my money Cubase is still the most rounded iOS DAW with the widest range of compatible plugins (both AUv3 and IAA) even though Auria Pro outclasses it when judged on features alone.

    I'd personally never use an iOS DAW for anything more than as a sketchpad. I'm not suggesting that others don't produce sophisticated productions on iOS, just that iOS DAWs don't suit my production requirements.

    I mentioned in another thread that I monitor the activity of a wider range of iOS developers activities than I do of desktop developers. This is mainly down to the fact that I see a fantastic amount of innovation in the iOS audio space. It has instruments, FX and utilities that put shame on their desktop equivalents in spades but iOS DAW's are still at the genesis stage of their development. Both iOS hardware and it's core operating system needs to evolve a little further before iOS DAW's can even begin to compete with high end desktop products.

    Right now, the budget required for a high end iOS device is better spent on a laptop if you're looking for a mobile DAW (and if you're purchasing a Windows laptop that budget will go far further). Whilst the price of entry is high for desktop DAW's and instrument/FX suites such as those from Native Instruments, the cost of maintenance is very low. I can safely say that right now I spend almost as much on iOS instruments/FX and an annual basis as I do on the desktop. My investment on the desktop was upfront, and now I mainly budget for upgrades as new products need to be special to usurp those that I currently use.

    It's common on iOS for a developer to stop adding new features to a product beyond the first two years of it's lifetime (said products only feature bug fixes and maintenance updates at that point). This isn't because the developers are uncaring, it's simply a by-product of Apples commercial terms with regard to the App Store, which makes it very difficult for developers to monetise products that evolve over time. One area of iOS audio that buck this generalisation is iOS DAWs. Gadget and Cubasis in particular come in for high praise here as they have continued to evolve without requiring their customers to purchase new versions. iOS DAW's have the advantage here because they can monetise evolution via IAPs. But there are examples of individual instruments (e.g. Elastic Drums) that fund evolution via IAPs rather than forcing their customers to purchase a new app altogether. Personally, I prefer to pay for product innovation in this way and I also find that this model leads to more robust products with more organic feature enhancements.

  • @jonmoore, this would be a great article for the wiki. Please post!

  • edited May 12

    I only enjoy working with two DAWs: Pro Tools on desktop and GB on iOS. Something about these two interfaces that put me at ease

    But I do most of my real work in Logic Pro X. Best bang for the buck...no dongles etc.

  • edited May 12

    Reading this thread, i'm pretty happy that i belong to very small group of people who are totally satisfied wih current iOS situation :-) I have completely covered all my production needs, don't feel literally any limitations just tons of inspiration, and i'm able to deliver fully finished track just on my iPad :-) In last 5 months i finished 5 full tracks (that's a lot for me, considering that i have time for music mostly just 1-2 hours after 10pm :)), working on patchbanks for which i made another 6-8 demo tracks (not released yet) - and i really didn't experienced any limitation or frustration - all this iOS ecosystem is strongly influencing my creativity in positive way :-)

    I was never so creative on desktop (and i spend 15+ years on desktop) than i'm on iOS.

  • edited May 12

    @LinearLineman said:
    I have no experience with desktop and I am not trying to start a debate between the two. I would just like to know if others share my experience. I rarely use a manual and most non acoustic apps are rather inexplicable to me at first. Yet, if I leave them alone and return once in a while, each app seems to reveal itself in a very intuitive way. SpaceCraft is a perfect example. I hadn’t a clue how to use it, import sounds, play it as an instrument, adjust parameters, etc. I managed to route a static track to Cubasis early on, liked it and went no further. Yet when I returned to it a few days ago suddenly it made a lot more sense to me. I imported a couple of tracks I had made previously and I could play it as a melody instrument.

    So what is going on? And do desktop users have similar experiences? I tend to think that the intuitiveness must be built in by the dev (Cubasis is another great example). Also, that my personal experience is the gradual accumulation of the pieces of the puzzle, tho I still can’t get midi out and midi in, no matter how often it is explained! It seems midi in means midi out and vice versa!

    @LinearLineman said:
    I have no experience with desktop and I am not trying to start a debate between the two. I would just like to know if others share my experience. I rarely use a manual and most non acoustic apps are rather inexplicable to me at first. Yet, if I leave them alone and return once in a while, each app seems to reveal itself in a very intuitive way. SpaceCraft is a perfect example. I hadn’t a clue how to use it, import sounds, play it as an instrument, adjust parameters, etc. I managed to route a static track to Cubasis early on, liked it and went no further. Yet when I returned to it a few days ago suddenly it made a lot more sense to me. I imported a couple of tracks I had made previously and I could play it as a melody instrument.

    So what is going on? And do desktop users have similar experiences? I tend to think that the intuitiveness must be built in by the dev (Cubasis is another great example). Also, that my personal experience is the gradual accumulation of the pieces of the puzzle, tho I still can’t get midi out and midi in, no matter how often it is explained! It seems midi in means midi out and vice versa!

    @LinearLineman said:
    I have no experience with desktop and I am not trying to start a debate between the two. I would just like to know if others share my experience. I rarely use a manual and most non acoustic apps are rather inexplicable to me at first. Yet, if I leave them alone and return once in a while, each app seems to reveal itself in a very intuitive way. SpaceCraft is a perfect example. I hadn’t a clue how to use it, import sounds, play it as an instrument, adjust parameters, etc. I managed to route a static track to Cubasis early on, liked it and went no further. Yet when I returned to it a few days ago suddenly it made a lot more sense to me. I imported a couple of tracks I had made previously and I could play it as a melody instrument.

    So what is going on? And do desktop users have similar experiences? I tend to think that the intuitiveness must be built in by the dev (Cubasis is another great example). Also, that my personal experience is the gradual accumulation of the pieces of the puzzle, tho I still can’t get midi out and midi in, no matter how often it is explained! It seems midi in means midi out and vice versa!

    As someone that’s been using desktop software much longer than iOS, I would venture to say that it’s not the platform that is causing the lack of user-friendliness. I think it’s technology itself. I remember earlier versions of Photoshop, Microsoft word and almost any software that is now in its Umpteenth iteration. Almost all of them now are like airplane cockpits Compared to how they started out. As technology advances and what we can do with software does as well,The interfaces have become less and less intuitive. It is almost always required to bust out a manual at least initially, especially if no one has created decent tutorials yet. What does seem unique to iOS though ... Is this trend to have no manuals at all. I don’t particularly understand this , but it is what it is.

  • @bedheadproducer, "Airplanes are too complicated. They were better in the old days!... El Presidente

  • edited May 12

    OT: @LinearLineman Kliban!
    On topic I’m literally all over the place- doing stuff on phone, multiple tablets (iOS, Android) including a
    PC tablet (Surface Pro 3), and a 15 year old tower running Windows XT (for a Scope Creamware system).
    On the SP tablet, often as not I’m using the very non touch-friendly tracker Renoise, along with the brand newest touch software from Bitwig... in other words no clear answer, and productivity (and non productivity) randomly distributed across all platforms and and formats, with full joy everywhere. The key to enjoying this embarrassment of riches is time on task: ridiculously deep software gets damn intuitive after 5-10 years of deliberate practice

  • @LinearLineman said:
    @bedheadproducer, "Airplanes are too complicated. They were better in the old days!... El Presidente

    lol, I didn't say complicated was good or bad. I just said things are more complicated now in general, because functionality is much higher and therefore so is the learning curve.
    I think the general idea is that complicated is bad, simple is good. I would agree with that some of the time, not all the time.
    I would disagree with El Presidente though. I think it needs to be complex enough to have several failsafes and deliver me a damn good in flight dinner with air conditioning and perfect cockpit pressure to boot!(with cocktails but also a sober pilot)

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