Monday, November 22, 2010

Guitar World "Lick of the Day" App

I don't know how to play the guitar but this app makes me wish I did.  I'm talking about Guitar World's "Lick of the Day" iPad app.  It's a freebie that comes with a handful of samples; you pick from one of three subscription options to get more licks.

The top part of the screen shows the pro playing the lick and the bottom has two panes showing the frets and a musical scale.  The fret/scale is animated to keep time with the pro's video.  You can play it at full speed or half speed.

Everything described up to now applies to "video" mode.  There's also a "practice" mode that ditches the pro's video and gives you more control over the playback speed.  In practice mode you can choose anywhere from 10% to 100% of the original speed.  You can also turn looping on (to keep playing the same lick over and over) as well as turn the instrument audio off so that you can just hear yourself while you watch the fret/scale animations.

This is one of those apps that really plays to the strength of the iPad interface.  As I mentioned, I'm no guitarist but I'm tempted to sign up for a subscription because it's so fun watching these guys play!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rush Time Machine App

Despite being a big Rush fan, I've only seen them in concert once and that was about 6 or 7 years ago.  I noticed the band recently launched an iPad app for $4.99 and, given all the 5-star reviews it garnered initially, I figured I ought to give it a shot.

The app is loaded with a bunch of Rush tracks.  Then again, if I want to listen to their music I'll dial it up on my iPhone.  And since most of the people buying this app probably have all or many of the band's CDs, I'm not sure it made sense to load the app up with all these songs.  Nevertheless, even though Apple still hasn't released the multitasking iOS update for the iPad, at least Time Machine keeps playing the tunes while you explore other areas of the app.

Time Machine pulls all the band's news and tour info together.  Of course you could just get all that from their website.  In fact, one of my biggest complaints about Time Machine is that the news feature often doesn't say much about a story and tells you to go to for more info.  So if I want to enter a drawing for some sort of "screening", the app tells me to go to; I have no idea what sort of screening this is since the news entry is so brief it doesn't even say!  Other news items include links.  Bear in mind there's no way to view those links within the app and they're not even real links you can touch and launch Safari; they're just text on a screen you have to copy and paste into the browser.  Pretty lame.  At the very least they should put the news in this section, not just a bunch of urls.

Although the news feature is weak, the tour date feature, "Caravan", is pretty slick.  Caravan shows you where all the band's shows take place.  Unfortunately the current tour is over, so this feature isn't all that useful, but it shows potential for future tours and other bands.  Caravan offers links to buy tickets (via Ticketmaster), directions to the venue (from Google maps) as well as other buttons for food, travel and points of interest.  Sometimes the maps are rendered within the app and other times they're launched via your browser; I wish they'd let you configure this and enable all the maps/links to render within the app.

Another noteworthy feature is "Weapons", where the app provides lists of all the gear this musical trio uses on the road.  That image I included at the top of this post shows an overhead shot of Neal Peart's drumkit and the list on the right provides all the specifics.

Time Machine probably isn't worth the five bucks unless you're obsessed with the band.  And since I'm not sure how many times I'll go back and use this one again, I can't say I'm all that thrilled with it.  The key will be whether they add more features in the future and if I'll get free updates along the way.