Audiobus: Use your music apps together.

What is Audiobus?Audiobus is an award-winning music app for iPhone and iPad which lets you use your other music apps together. Chain effects on your favourite synth, run the output of apps or Audio Units into an app like GarageBand or Loopy, or select a different audio interface output for each app. Route MIDI between apps — drive a synth from a MIDI sequencer, or add an arpeggiator to your MIDI keyboard — or sync with your external MIDI gear. And control your entire setup from a MIDI controller.

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Audiobus is the app that makes the rest of your setup better.

Devs do need designers (2020)

edited January 2020 in App Development

Many years ago I was having a chat with a major indie developer (vst plugins)

And while testing I said that he really could benefit from having design inputs from working producers.

His reply was “what makes you thing I don’t already know your ideas ? “

Followed a series of products with major missing functions.

I see exactly the same with iOS apps, mainly with “Beyond loop” limitations.

Examples:

Atom piano roll (no clip launch via midi notes or pattern chaining)

Riffer 2 no pattern chaining.

BeatHawk no post recording midi quantize.

It’s not just about sound, arrangement is equally as important devs ;-)

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Comments

  • edited January 2020

    It's not that simple .. what is crucial feature for one user may be totally minor unimportant thing for other user ..

    Only thing DEV can do, is to choose which features are important for HIM. Otherwise he will be just frustrated all the time because there will be always somebody complaining about some missing feature, it's endless loop, from 2 main reasons - people wants always more, and people are different - they have different needs, different workflows.

    You never make everybody satisfied unless you do not add EVERY thinkable feature in your app.. Which is not possible, and especially not on iOS (because of very limited resources for funding development).

    So, it's not that DEV have no idea this and that feature is requested. In most cases it's about priorities, like " i cannot do everything, so i'll do this but not that).

  • As soon as you consider to sell your coding results, it's about demands of your targeted customer group
    Features have to be weighted and sorted (out) in regard to a smooth user experience for the majority of the 'group'. Or arranged as it was called in the initial post.

    It's almost absurd to what degree this is ignored in a lot of highly sophisticated apps. o:)

  • I had thought about an experiment from time to time:
    A joint effort in app design with many interested potential users contributing to UI design and functionality, ideally moderated by a developer who is accepted by most to design accessible, intuitive, useful and fun apps (No, I'm not listing Marcos as a candidate :D ).

    The moderator would not do any judgement nor elaborate on how easy or difficult a certain feature might be to implement, he'd only ask questions about missing details in feature descriptions and UI designs.

    Only at a final review date, he (and possibly somebody who is willing to help in visual and feature prototyping of the app) will summarize and take the necessary decisions on app design in order to be able to finish developing the app within a given time frame.

    The more detailed the design and feature description is, the smaller the risk of under-estimating the required development time.

  • @Telefunky said:
    As soon as you consider to sell your coding results, it's about demands of your targeted customer group
    Features have to be weighted and sorted (out) in regard to a smooth user experience for the majority of the 'group'. Or arranged as it was called in the initial post.

    It's almost absurd to what degree this is ignored in a lot of highly sophisticated apps. o:)

    Agreed. Not only that, many coders are not UI experts, and so they could do with some help on that score, too (not all, just some. @brambos, for example, builds amazing GUIs, but not all apps are of such a high standard).

  • I doubt that the iOS market is lucrative enough to do proper discovery, validation and design prior to dev work. Maybe some of the bigger players can soak up the costs by selling hardware or PC/Mac VSTs; I dunno. The most revered devs here on the forums (the aforementioned brambos but also @Michael and @j_liljedahl, amongst a handful of others) manage to do just enough discovery and design--in addition to the nuts and bolts dev work--to be noteworthy.

  • It really is that simple, there are standards in design that the majority use.

    My op was not about missing features but standard functions.

    @dendy said:
    It's not that simple .. what is crucial feature for one user may be totally minor unimportant thing for other user ..

    Only thing DEV can do, is to choose which features are important for HIM. Otherwise he will be just frustrated all the time because there will be always somebody complaining about some missing feature, it's endless loop, from 2 main reasons - people wants always more, and people are different - they have different needs, different workflows.

    You never make everybody satisfied unless you do not add EVERY thinkable feature in your app.. Which is not possible, and especially not on iOS (because of very limited resources for funding development).

    So, it's not that DEV have no idea this and that feature is requested. In most cases it's about priorities, like " i cannot do everything, so i'll do this but not that).

  • Yeah most developers suck at UX. Brambos is a professional interaction designer. Jonatan is an experimental musician/composer. Matt "Nanostudio" Borstel... Honestly no idea. He's like a unicorn, a phenomenon that's supposed to be impossible.

  • edited January 2020

    matt is musician too... he made "dubcraft" and "tendrils" demo tracks in NS2 for example (or all demo tracks in NS1)

    btw currently we have almost finished 2 tracks which we made together, i'm waiting for matt's final word if i can release it :/)

    profesionally - before he started with ios apps, he was game developer... his primary language is C++ (and assembler), and he does ALL UI/UX design too ...

  • It's best to have a separate person doing the function of UX for objectivity, division of labor, etc. However, a lot of "app developers" are just that - one person with a passion and no budget. For people falling into this category, it would be really helpful to their sales if they spent time learning how to professionally design software. Some developers "get it" and do a fine enough job on their own. Others... not so much.

  • Great topic.

    I think this is modern economy and cultural not industry specific.

    The issue arising in ALL fields is the industry VS THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE programs for the industry.

    In health care for example, I see often the "IT" people or companies like 3M who provide software are tone deaf with regard to the needs of the doctors or statisticians. Instead, they see things through their own "genius" or product.

    Same at Retail stores, look at the odd divergence when you have store requiring you to sign up for a card and then what? You get sale price without the card. BUT MILLIONS gets invested in the software. Nordstrom sold FACONABLE to finance their personal book software and it got NOTHING from it except value lost of the company due to the IT upkeep of the system and corporate training costs for the software.

    Same with IOS apps in some cases AS WELL AS COMPANIES LIKE NOVATION. Software and Hardware. Where is priority?

    The dichotomy is the MUSICIAN perspective vs the PROGRAMMER perspective and WHICH is most important ultimately.

    Yes, crossover exists, but overall these are 2 different things in many ways.

    Just my quick thoughts as I saw the thread.

  • https://www.pushturnmove.com/products/push-turn-move-the-book

    I was very happy to get this awesome book for Christmas, it's about design and function in electronic instruments. There's a lot of hardware in it, but also positive coverage of some of the better Apps that are core to this forum (Audiobus and AUM for starters). In the light of this thread, what's particularly revealing to me is the necessary prototyping generations for hardware. To an extent those stages get skipped for iOS Apps, at least until after the initial sale has been made, with not necessarily any motivation to make subsequent modifications.

    Anyway, it's a fantastic book, highly recommended. I don't have any hardware (other than an old Yamaha sampler I can't give away), but everything in it speaks to my iOS based music making experience.

  • edited January 2020

    The thing is often experienced music producers don’t even want any monitory reward for their ideas (well maybe an nfr) but they simply want/require usability functions.

    You know, the kind of functions that many people ask for after release and devs often say “great idea” then sometimes add them.

    Again my OP was not about extra features but basic operational design. ;-)

  • @topaz said:
    Again my OP was not about extra features but basic operational design. ;-)

    Yes, probably the most infamous example: Akai's MPC tablet incarnation... :#

  • @steve99 said:
    https://www.pushturnmove.com/products/push-turn-move-the-book

    I was very happy to get this awesome book for Christmas, it's about design and function in electronic instruments. There's a lot of hardware in it, but also positive coverage of some of the better Apps that are core to this forum (Audiobus and AUM for starters). In the light of this thread, what's particularly revealing to me is the necessary prototyping generations for hardware. To an extent those stages get skipped for iOS Apps, at least until after the initial sale has been made, with not necessarily any motivation to make subsequent modifications.

    Anyway, it's a fantastic book, highly recommended. I don't have any hardware (other than an old Yamaha sampler I can't give away), but everything in it speaks to my iOS based music making experience.

    Cool THANKS!

  • I don't think so, based on what OP said.

    Because OP scenario is saying that the feedback is not accepted or desired which isn't MVP operating.

    MVP involves consistent bi-directional communication and advisement between the 2 parties. (maker/buyer)

  • edited January 2020

    @RUST( i )K said:

    OP scenario is saying that the feedback is not accepted or desired which isn't MVP operating.

    MVP involves consistent bi-directional communication and advisement between the 2 parties. (maker/buyer)

    Maybe that was my point.

    In my case MVP could have stood for 'minimum viable post' and now based on your feedback i would add that this approach would benefit said devs. ;)

  • I would argue that more pressing for developers than independent UI evaluation is usability testing. Features and look/feel are obviously important, but a design is not, by itself, usable or unusable.

    Instead, it’s the interaction between these concepts that determines an app’s usability. In a former life as a product manager, I used to conduct usability tests for telecom and conferencing services iOS and web apps and when done correctly these tests can significantly impact development in the most crucial of ways. Not only can it identify massive gaps in understanding for users but it can also really help developers prioritize between “nice to have” and “need to have” features. Too often, devs get stuck in in their own heads (mostly as a result of having limited resources to involve outside help) and simply design an app based on their own needs or wants, which can certainly be fine, but in doing so they miss massive opportunities to really cater to the needs of potential users.

    However, the overhead needed to properly set up usability testing (especially unbiased usability testing) is usually not insignificant. You essentially need to set up a series of use case scenarios and scripts to see how users ACTUALLY use the product, I.e. when asked to do X what is the first button they press, where do their eyes go on the screen, what action do they take next, how do they back out of an error, etc. All of these actions are documented across a wide swath of users, ideally 10+, sometimes 100+, to determine one average among all users, what actions and hang ups were most common. It’s actually a really interesting process, but should always be done well before the developer has anything close to a minimally viable product rather than once development is close to completion.

    A lot of “UI experts” are only brought in at the 11th hour once an app is 99% complete and ready for delivery to see if anything was missed or could be improved without refactoring code. At this point, it’s often too late in the process so the UI feedback has limited utility and mostly consists of suggestions like “change the colors”, “increase button size”, etc., rather than the things that would really matter.

    My 2 pennies...

  • As a "UI expert' I don't disagree with user testing if you have a budget (and I agree - it's something you mostly do on prototypes, rather than finished products). But if you don't involve a product/UX designer early in the discovery process and let them do user research, and give them time to design screens - you're probably only going to get a mediocre product. Can user testing improve things - sure. But without a UI/UX expert involved early on, there's only so much you're going to be able to do. It's not just identifying what's wrong - it's knowing how to fix it.

    Also a lot of UI experts are graphic designers who maybe once read a book on UX. Says a not remotely bitter UX expert... :smile:

  • Also UX is hard, and requires experience. Always a bit baffled that people think it's something you can sprinkle on. For example past clients who want me to train up their developers so they can do good UX after I leave the project.

  • @cian said:
    As a "UI expert' I don't disagree with user testing if you have a budget (and I agree - it's something you mostly do on prototypes, rather than finished products). But if you don't involve a product/UX designer early in the discovery process and let them do user research, and give them time to design screens - you're probably only going to get a mediocre product. Can user testing improve things - sure. But without a UI/UX expert involved early on, there's only so much you're going to be able to do. It's not just identifying what's wrong - it's knowing how to fix it.

    Also a lot of UI experts are graphic designers who maybe once read a book on UX. Says a not remotely bitter UX expert... :smile:

    I think you’re absolutely right and that’s a big problem with UI/UX in general. Everyone claims to be an expert and that, in my opinion, dilutes the pool of true UI/UX talent which can make significant improvements all throughout the dev cycle.

    But instead, devs become jaded because the feedback they often get from the UI person they hire isn’t worth much and they end up believing that there was little value-add and that they can simply do the job themselves.

    I sort of fell into UX/UI/usability by accident since I was first a developer, then a graphic designer, then a product manager who had to wear all the hats. But I definitely never considered myself an expert, hence my use of quotes, even if nearly everyone on the team thought I was, but that’s what happens even in companies that have development resources.

  • edited January 2020

    No

  • @topaz said:

    @dendy said:
    It's not that simple .. what is crucial feature for one user may be totally minor unimportant thing for other user ..

    Only thing DEV can do, is to choose which features are important for HIM. Otherwise he will be just frustrated all the time because there will be always somebody complaining about some missing feature, it's endless loop, from 2 main reasons - people wants always more, and people are different - they have different needs, different workflows.

    You never make everybody satisfied unless you do not add EVERY thinkable feature in your app.. Which is not possible, and especially not on iOS (because of very limited resources for funding development).

    So, it's not that DEV have no idea this and that feature is requested. In most cases it's about priorities, like " i cannot do everything, so i'll do this but not that).

    It really is that simple, there are standards in design that the majority use.

    My op was not about missing features but standard functions.

    It's really not that simple. Just because you see something as 'standard' doesn't mean it's free to implement, maintain and/or support. Nor does it mean it's more important to the app than some other feature that'd have to be cut because 24 hours in a day. Especially for the majority of iOS music devs who do this largely as a hobby. I mean, how many hardware sequencers are out there made by larger companies with 'design' input that do not implement pattern chaining? Most of the Volcas don't. The Minilogue doesn't. The ($3k) OB-6 doesn't. The Digitakt barely does it...

    I'm all for standards. Presuming that when some device/app is missing a so-called standard is down to not having design input though... c'mon.

    X-code is free to download.

  • edited January 2020

    @syrupcore said:

    X-code is free to download.

    Ugh, too much work when there are already existing devs who could simply do what we want if they just weren’t such gosh darn pooh pooh heads.

  • If you add more people to a product you increase the sunk costs assuming they would expect in income. Most small developers just assume they'll make something when the apps done. Many never recoup the investment in their time and they let the app slowly die and move on with real day jobs.

    Of course, asking a designer to sign up for payment if there are sales just means more mouths to feed.

    Consider an app like Scythe Synth... the developer periodically just sets the price to zero hoping to make some additional income from the IAPs. It's really a nice design and a rather unique wavetable synth. Quite similar to the PPG stuff that just hangs out there for $20 and
    probably don't sell much due to the entry cost. One is free and the other is $20. I ended up buying close to $20 in IAP's for Scythe.

    @Michael is right when he advises new developers... hope for luck. You'll probably nesw\eed it. There's no obvious answer. Just those that take the risk and spin the wheel.

    Products designed by competent Committees with Product Managers get you something like
    Reason Compact which re-packages code developed for another platform hoping to crossover for IOS revenues and launch an additional platform product.

    I doubt a developer will get much from this discussion... like any artist they need inspiration and fewer critics to confuse their workflow.

  • @McD
    Many never recoup the investment in their time and they let the app slowly die and move on with real day jobs.

    Or they release another and anotherapp, to get steady income - quantity vs. quality. No time for fixing bugs in okd apps. We can see this approach on iOS with some devs (from sone point of view it's understandabke, considering ridiculously low iOS app prices)

  • @dendy said:
    Or they release another and another app, to get steady income - quantity vs. quality.

    There are some developers that are obsessive about quality and make us wait and wait.
    I do love them and their insistence on exceptional products.

    Harry of @Virsyn has crafted some of my favorite apps and he gets maligned for stopping short of perfect features and a lock od any documentation. Still, I really like his work on the whole: AudioReverb, Bark Filter, AudioLayer, Addictive Synth... on and on cranking out quality products and moving on to the next idea.

    The Audio Damage duo makes every app work on PC's and IOS. Their new "Continua" app is $79 on a Mac. I'll wait for the IOS and reap the financial benefits.

    I have no idea how many instances of Drambo will have to be sold to reach breakeven and
    how it will need to be priced to reach the goal line.

    So many strategies to pay the bills.

  • @dendy said:
    We can see this approach on iOS with some devs (from sone point of view it's understandabke, considering ridiculously low iOS app prices)

    It depends. For example, I personally think that Cubasis 3's pricing is relatively "healthy", while a certain other app with a two-letter and one-digit abbreviation costs a third and arguably doesn't do a lot less 😉

  • edited January 2020

    @SevenSystems said:

    @dendy said:
    We can see this approach on iOS with some devs (from sone point of view it's understandabke, considering ridiculously low iOS app prices)

    It depends. For example, I personally think that Cubasis 3's pricing is relatively "healthy", while a certain other app with a two-letter and one-digit abbreviation costs a third and arguably doesn't do a lot less 😉

    yes, cubasis 3 pricing looks fair to me... also Gadget is ok, interestin is that iOS Gadget + all IAPs conts approx same price as desktop Gadget (which automatically contains all plugins which are available on iOS as IAPs). So basicaly price for Gadget is same iOS vs. Desktop

    Their new "Continua" app is $79 on a Mac

    This is good example how sick is iOS market... why the hell should same plugin costs 10x less on iOS than on desktop ? Because that is price on iOS. This is not healthy. Womdering if they sell at least 10x as much copies on iOS than on desktop (because that would be only rarional argument for such low price on iOS)

    To be perfectly clear (based on one PM i received) - i'm blaming here Apple for initial conditions set for appstore pricing model, some rules defined by Apple are sick (like if user asks for refund, developer still pays 30% of app price to apple) , and i'm blaming also some users who are pushing on low prices - not devs. Devs are victims here.

    I think audio apps developement is most difficult type of coding, there is no other more complex coding area. Even machine learning stuff is lot simpler that audio apps DSP coding.
    Especially on iOS, you need to deal with poorly documented api and constantly chancing conditions (by Apple). Hard, really hard job. Underpayed in my opinion.

  • @dendy said:

    This is good example how sick is iOS market... why the hell should same plugin costs 10x less on iOS than on desktop ? Because that is price on iOS. This is not healthy. Womdering if they sell at least 10x as much copies on iOS than on desktop (because that would be only rational argument for such low price on iOS)

    Chris Randall (Audio Damage) recently said in an interview that they did. Their strategy, and I think it's a smart one, is to develop the same plugin for as many platforms as possible (JUCE makes this possible).

    I think people on this forum assume that audio developers make a lot more money on the desktop than they do. Most audio developers, on whatever platform, are barely hanging on. Even the giants of the industry (Ableton, Native Instruments, etc) are pretty tiny compared to typical software companies. In fact if you want to make a living wage in a wealth country - you probably don't want to be an audio developer.

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