Nearly 8 years after Apple put the word “Pro” in the name of an iPad, they have finally announced that they will be putting some of their own professional software on the platform. Apple today announced that they will be releasing iPad versions of their digital audio workstation (DAW) Logic Pro as well as the non-linear video editor (NLE) Final Cut Pro as subscription apps on a monthly or annual basis. Logic Pro has long been a favorite among composers and orchestrators for its sequencing features and asset library, among many other tools.
The iPad version is not yet available, but Apple has published a press release and promotional video showing the familiar desktop features and tools, along with a handful of new optimizations for touch input.
There are some features that seem perfectly suited to the iPad’s touch and stylus inputs. In the video, you can see users drawing in automation curves with a stylus and playing on-screen, multitouch piano keyboards and guitars. There is also a new plug-in called Beat Breaker, the details of which are a bit unclear, but Apple’s new Logic Pro for iPad page describes it as “The time and pitch morphing functions of Beat Breaker let you swipe and pinch to radically reshape and shuffle sounds instantly.”
This won’t be Apple’s first attempt at media creation software on the iPad. Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro join the simpler and more consumer-friendly media apps GarageBand and iMovie, both of which have been available since 2011 and are currently available free in the App Store. Apple positions both as stepping stones to the more costly and powerful pro apps. On the Mac, the features and interfaces of the consumer and pro apps have been converging to make the transition between the two easier, sometimes to the frustration of longtime pro users.
In addition to first-party software from Apple, these new professional media apps will be competing with established third-party iPad apps, including DAWs like Steinberg’s Cubasis and Wooji Juice’s Ferrite, as well as NLEs like LumaFusion and DaVinci Resolve.
Pricing, availability, compatibility
Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for iPad will be released May 23, and will be available on a subscription basis: $4.99 (US) per month or $49 (US) per year. (For comparison, the desktop versions of the same software sell for $200 and $300 respectively, as one-time perpetual licenses with free upgrades.)
The new pro media apps will require an A12 processor or greater, which goes back to the 2018 iPad Pro, 2019 iPad Air and Mini, and 2020 iPad. They also require iPadOS 16.4 or later.
It is great to see Apple finally putting their software money where their hardware-marketing mouth is. I definitely intend to download these applications—especially Logic Pro—and experiment with them in the coming months. However, I suspect it will take a lot to pry me away from my existing Mac workflows for audio production. It will be hard for iPad hardware to compete with larger displays and dedicated hardware for audio and MIDI input. Though I can plug my iPad into a display and use USB to connect other devices, I’m not keen on disassembling a long-functional desktop setup to do that.
If anything, I imagine using Logic Pro for iPad as a way to check in on projects and tweak things on the go, but the problem there is keeping track of all the linked media files, considering that file management on iPadOS is still a bit tedious, as well as all the missing plugins and virtual instruments that I wouldn’t have access to on my iPad. It’s worth noting that iPadOS does have robust support for AudioUnit plugins (AUv3). However, while there are some genuinely great AUv3 plugins available on the App Store, they are almost all geared toward commercial music production. As I wrote in my initial review of Dorico for iPad, which also supports AUv3 instruments, there are very few options for the kinds of virtual instruments I rely on to imitate acoustic instruments.
This is a significant development for iPad users, and it is my hope that having a robust, first-party DAW on iPad will encourage competitors as well as plugin vendors on the platform. Perhaps having Logic Pro available may make it more likely that we could see iPad versions of our favorite sample libraries to use with our iPad notation software. And the overall result may be that iPad is taken more seriously as a platform for professional musicians.
And speaking of iPads in the hands of professional musicians (How ’bout that segue?), stay tuned to Scoring Notes for a major update to my round-up of iPad score readers later this month, as well as related coverage at next month’s MOLA Conference and Tech Fair in Berlin!