Sibelius arrives on iPad

Reviews

Listen to the podcast episode

On the Scoring Notes podcast, Philip Rothman and David MacDonald recap a wild and exciting week in the world of music notation software, with not one, but two major products debuting on iPad: Dorico and Sibelius. Listen now:

Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes
Dorico and Sibelius come to the iPad
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The history and future of Sibelius for iPad

On the Scoring Notes podcast, Sam Butler and Joe Plazak talk about their journey that began with the goal of making Sibelius available on as many platforms as possible and resulting in Sibelius on iPad, with more to come in the future. Listen now:

Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes
The history and future of Sibelius for iPad
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After a week of slowly teasing the announcement in its marketing channels, today Avid released Sibelius for Mobile on iPad on the App Store. There is an announcement on the Avid blog and a new Sibelius for Mobile section of the Avid site, along with a introductory video and a series of seven Getting Started videos. Much of the desktop product — including a lot of powerful Sibelius features and the ability to add and edit unlimited instruments in the top tier of the product — has made its way into Sibelius on iPad, but the interface has been re-imagined for the iPad platform in many significant ways.

Perhaps of most interest to existing Sibelius users: Anyone with an active subscription or support plan on Mac or PC can access the iPad version at the same tier at which they are currently entitled, at no additional charge.

In what will surely go down in the history books as one of the most exciting and unanticipated weeks in the world of music notation software development, the Sibelius version of iPad was released approximately 24 hours after we saw Dorico arrive on the iPad. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a NAMM Show where we expect these kinds of back-to-back major releases, but this is just a random week in July!

To get grounded, start off with our video, where we take a comprehensive first look at Sibelius on iPad: everything from how to get started; opening files and templates; working with touch gestures and selections; entering music with the Keypad, Apple Pencil, and external devices; pitch correction and chord input tools; the revamped Create menu; word menus, Command Search; playback, print, and PDF export, and more.

 

This is the very first time we’ve seen Sibelius on iPad and we’re excited to see what it can do.

What it is and who can get it

You might remember that, quite a while ago, there was an iPad app called Avid Scorch that opened and played back Sibelius files. With today’s release of Sibelius on iPad, Avid Scorch has been removed (although if you already bought it, you can still re-install it if needed).

Today’s new app isn’t Scorch at all — it’s a completely new app called “Sibelius” that you can download from Apple’s App Store. To a large extent, it replicates the desktop version of Sibelius, but with many iPad-specific features.

While there’s a lot you can do on Sibelius for iPad, it’s not nearly as fully tricked out as the desktop version. This is version 1, and we expect more updates to the app over time. If you want to check it out for yourself, anyone can download the app and start working with its most basic features.

If you’re an existing Sibelius customer with an active support plan or subscription, you get the iPad version at the same tier at no extra charge. That means that if you have a subscription to Sibelius Ultimate on your Mac or PC, that same subscription allows you full access to Sibelius Ultimate on iPad.

Avid is clearly replicating a model like those we see in subscription apps from Adobe, Microsoft Office, Dropbox, and many other developers. The desktop version is the powerhouse application, but you can access your files and work with them in useful ways on your iPad, and round-trip them infinitely without losing any information.

There is a way to subscribe to Sibelius Ultimate on iPad without having the desktop app, and we’ll cover those details later. For now, let’s see what Sibelius on iPad looks like.

Getting started

When you first open Sibelius on your iPad there are a few brief videos on navigating your score, making selections, note input, using the Apple Pencil, and keyboard and mouse support.

We’ll look at take each of these areas a little more, but first let’s see how we access documents.

This area looks like you’d expect on many other iPad apps that use the iOS file management system. You can use cloud storage like iCloud Drive or Dropbox, and open any Sibelius file you like.

Opening a Sibelius score on iPad works as you’d expect. There’s the standard pinch-and-zoom, and simply touching the score and dragging it moves it around. If you have a big score you might be doing a lot of dragging, so I’d like to see inertial scrolling make it into a future version, but it’s not in this initial release.

When you first download the app, you get the version called, appropriately, Sibelius First. It is completely free, and anyone can download it without needing to register with Avid. Like its desktop counterpart, Sibelius First can open and play any file. You’re limited to creating and editing up to four staves, but you can play and review any file with an unlimited number of staves.

If you’re already a Sibelius customer, the first thing you’ll want to do is unlock more features and sign in with your Avid account. The Sibelius app will automatically unlock the feature set to which you’re entitled. I’m using the Sibelius Ultimate version.

Speaking of unlocking, you’ll want to take note of that lock icon. Locking the score puts it in Review Mode, so you can drag your score around without worrying about changing anything. When the score is unlocked, you can still move the score around, but you’ll need to take more care that you don’t accidentally change any music.

Files and templates

Creating a score is more streamlined for now, compared to the options you have on the desktop app. You choose a pre-set Manuscript Paper — newly and nicely re-designed for this release by senior product designer Justin Tokke — and then you’re off. But you can modify your score later.

It’s worth perusing the example scores, and you can certainly open up any of your own scores to see how they look. If you use the default fonts that come with Sibelius, everything should look exactly the same on the iPad as it does on the desktop.

Even our Norfolk and Pori fonts are included, as are most of the text fonts that are bundled with the Scoring Express templates, like Steinberg’s Academico and Petaluma Script.

If you’re looking for how to switch from the regular page view into Panorama view, it’s not in this initial release. It’s something that I hope to see it in the future, because it’s a great way of working with a score without being tied to a page format. Same thing with parts — only the score is viewable right now. That’s a big one, because you can easily imagine the benefit of sending a Sibelius file with formatted parts to anyone with the free Sibelius app for them to play from.

Touch gestures and selections

You can make a selection in Sibelius in a few ways, some of which will be instantly familiar:

  • Tap a single bar, double-tap for the entire staff for that system, and triple-tap for the entire staff.
  • Long-press another staff to select it. This is basically like Command-clicking.
  • Long-pressing a bar makes a system selection, which is helpful to quickly delete a bar. Tapping with two fingers also makes a system selection.
  • You can make a lasso selection by tapping and holding, and then dragging.
  • Just like in desktop Sibelius, most anything can be selected and made into a multi-selection. Just tap and hold anything you want to multi-select.

3-finger gestures

Standard Apple 3-finger gestures are supported:

  • Swipe left for Undo;
  • Swipe right for Redo;
  • Pinch in for Copy;
  • Pinch twice for Cut;
  • Pinch out to Paste.

You can also do a 3-finger tap to bring up a context menu:

Entering music

Let’s take a look at entering notes.

Using the Keypad

There’s a Keypad that bears a resemblance to the desktop version. You can minimize it or show it, and you can also orient it left or right on your screen.

If you’re just using your fingers, you need to first make a selection to tell Sibelius where you want the notes to go.

Tap and hold a note on the keypad to bring up the “ghost” note. By default, it will be the same pitch as the previous note on the staff.

On the Keypad, drag your finger up or down to raise or lower the pitch by step, and left or right to adjust it chromatically. I found this worked surprisingly well and was fun, if a little tedious, to use.

Joe Plazak, principal Sibelius for Mobile product designer & engineer, told Scoring Notes, “When entering notes without an external keyboard, our new patent-pending keypad gestures are really the fastest way to enter melodic ideas. These new keypad gestures can also be performed with an Apple Pencil or an external mouse. When working vertically across staves, the Apple Pencil note input experience really shines.”

Rests are entered by holding the rest on the Keypad and dragging your finger left or right to adjust the duration. This was also pretty easy to grasp.

Pitch correction and chord input tools

You’ll make some mistakes. Anticipating this, Sibelius on iPad gives us easy access to a Delete key and Undo directly in the Keypad. In place of the familiar plus or minus buttons, you’ll see two new ones: a Pitch Correction Tool and a Chord Input Tool to help after you input a note.

Dragging the Pitch Correction Tool up or down will adjust the note in those directions, while dragging it left or right will add accidentals.

The Chord Input Tool adds an interval of a third above if you simply tap it. But if you hold and drag it first, you can use it the same way you input a single note.

I do miss the repeat key here — the equivalent of R on the keyboard. Hopefully a future version will add the equivalent of pressing R to quickly repeat something you’ve just entered.

Keypad layouts

The rest of the Keypad layouts look and function similarly to the desktop app. You have more notes, beams and tremolos, articulations, jazz articulations including bar repeats, and accidentals, just like in desktop Sibelius.

Apple Pencil

Using the Apple Pencil is another matter when it comes to note input. As appealing as it is to use, I couldn’t quite get the hang of some of the more advanced features Sibelius introduces here.

You need to hard press with the Apple Pencil to activate note entry. Once that happens, you tilt the Pencil up or down to raise or lower the note chromatically, and tilt it left or right to adjust its duration. You should be able to pop into it, change the duration or accidental, and release out before placing the note where you need it. You can do multiple firm presses if you need to go from a 32nd note all the way to a whole note too.

It’s a nice idea to try to cram this all into the pencil, and I really tried to get comfortable with it. But I found it too hard to reliably get the results I wanted. I’ll be very happy to hear if other users find more success with it.

Where the Pencil is helpful is when you want to make precise selections, essentially using it as a sharper version of your finger. That’s very useful for selecting handles and other smaller items.

You can also get reasonably quick tapping notes into the score. If you like this method of working in Sibelius already, it will feel the most natural.

Instead of using the hard press for note input, I’d like to see it used for some other purpose — maybe triggering a kind of “Engrave mode”. In other words, simply dragging items without a hard press could be used to pop items into their default position — kind of like using Space and Shift-Space on the desktop — but if you hard press, you could fine-tune their positioning. That would be kind of cool — not to mention, a hard press would feel like a real music engraver’s tool and more naturally bridge the gap between the analog and digital worlds.

Create menu galleries

Moving on, you’ve noticed by now that there’s no Ribbon on Sibelius for iPad. Instead, we have the plus icon, which is actually called the Create menu.

It’s not identical to the old Create menu on Sibelius desktop, but there are many similarities. You have your common notations like clefs, key and time signatures, and barlines; line styles and symbols; text styles; and instruments.

Most of this works just as it does in Sibelius on the desktop. One difference is that a change made to a passage selection on a single bar only effects a change on the start of the passage for things like clef and signature changes, to make it easier to quickly tap and make a change.

Word menus

This is a good time to mention the Word Menus. You’ll see the mf icon when you’re entering text. This is how you access the contextual menu for dynamics and other text. You can also type in your own text.

The Create menu is also where you both add an instrument change to an existing staff and add a new instrument to the score. Even in the Sibelius Ultimate tier of the iPad version, you don’t get every last instrument, but you get the most common ones.

Hopefully we’ll see the complete instrument list available on iPad in a future release.

For some of the larger categories here and elsewhere, you’ll want to make use of the search box. Otherwise, you’ll be doing a lot of scrolling.

Command Search

You might be wondering, once you add an instrument to a staff, how do you change its position in the score without the old Add/Edit Instruments dialog?

This is where the Command Search comes in. Command Search was introduced in the Sibelius 2021.2 desktop update, and it plays in important role in the iPad version.

For instance, if you want to move that instrument we’ve just added up or down, you need to use the Move Instruments Up or Move Instruments Down command. If you’re a longtime Sibelius user, you might have a decent grasp of what these commands are called and what they do, but if not, it’s much more difficult to find your way.

Another example is dragging a staff to adjust its vertical position. In desktop Sibelius, you can simply click and drag it. In Sibelius for iPad, you can do that, too, but you need to select the command Switch Auto-Optimize on/off. This is done to make it easier to tap and move the score around without accidentally moving a staff. But there’s no indication of the score’s state one way or the other. It’s the same for Transposing Score, and several other routine Sibelius features.

It’s not so much a criticism as a recognition of a tradeoff in the iPad approach. Sibelius’s interface on iPad is almost a 180-degree reversal from the Ribbon on the desktop. Bear in mind that on the desktop, the Ribbon’s original intent was to make use of icons, tabs, toggles, highlights, via a relatively large screen real-estate footprint, in order to achieve the goal of exposing as many functions as possible to the user.

On the iPad, though, it’s worth thinking about how you’ll ultimately use Sibelius, if you’ll pardon the pun. Many of the desktop functions are still there if you need them, but at least for now, Sibelius on iPad is more of a companion to the desktop app instead of a total replacement, and the minimalist approach to the interface suits it well.

“We seized the opportunity to redesign Sibelius specifically for mobile devices,” Joe Plazak said. “Once buttons become part of a user interface, they become extremely difficult to remove. The Sibelius for Mobile interface is decisively minimal, as is fitting for a new product launch. Looking forward, users can expect to see not only new features being continually added to the application, but also consistent improvements to the interface. We’re looking forward to letting the application evolve naturally based on feedback from the community of Sibelius users.”

Using an external keyboard and mouse

That being said, if you want to get closer to the Sibelius desktop experience on the iPad, you can connect an external keyboard and mouse. This will feel much more familiar, but there is one caveat for numeric keypad users — Sibelius on the iPad does not support the numeric keypad. Instead, you’ll need to use the number row. Generally, Sibelius on iPad uses the same shortcuts designed for notebook or laptops.

Speaking of keyboards — there’s no support for Bluetooth MIDI keyboards, at least not in version 1 of Sibelius on iPad.

Playback, print, PDF export

Rounding out the experience on iPad are some basic functions. Playback is essentially a start and stop operation. Like on the desktop, you can solo a staff or several staves by making a passage selection.

You can make some basic changes to your document setup, page orientation, margins, and staff sizes, and you can print to your network printers.

Exporting to PDF is possible via the print preview by performing a “zoom out” gesture on the score. From there, you can share or save it just about anywhere. A simple PDF button would be very helpful here, but the functionality is there. Avid says that because they implemented the iPadOS print API instead of designing a custom implementation, they are whim of the iPadOS Print dialog here, so they can’t add a PDF button to this dialog.

Right now, there is no support for MIDI or MusicXML import or export, or audio export, in Sibelius on iPad. However, multitasking is supported in Sibelius on iPad, including Split View, making it convenient to have, say, a PDF open on one half of the screen, and Sibelius on the other.

Pricing and tiers

Sibelius on iPad is available for free to download from the App Store. Users get access to features that is roughly equivalent to the free Sibelius First desktop version.

From there, if you’re an existing Sibelius customer with an active support plan or subscription, you get the iPad version at the same tier at no extra charge. If you have a subscription to Sibelius (mid-tier) on your Mac or PC, that will carry over to Sibelius on iPad, and the same for Sibelius Ultimate — a Mac or PC subscription allows you full access to Sibelius Ultimate on iPad. This is great for existing customers and instantly makes their support plan or subscription more valuable.

If you’re not already an active Sibelius user, you can purchase an iPad-only subscription to unlock one of the higher tiers. Sibelius Ultimate on iPad-only is $12.99/month; Sibelius (mid-tier) is $5.99/mo.

If you want Sibelius and only have an iPad, and not a Mac or PC computer, this is the only way that you can access Sibelius. For everyone else that has a Mac or PC already, I can’t recommend purchasing a Sibelius iPad standalone subscription, at least not with this first version. The reason is that you’re much better off getting the desktop subscription for only a few dollars a month more — an annual $199.99 Sibelius Ultimate subscription for desktop works out to less than $4 more per month, and includes full access to the iPad app — not to mention, Avid often runs sales that lowers the price further. And if you’re an educational user, your Sibelius Ultimate desktop subscription now includes access to the iPad version at a total cost that’s less than you’d pay for the iPad version alone.

You can’t access the desktop version with only the iPad subscription, and if you had any ideas about running the iPad version of Sibelius on your M1 Apple Silicon Mac: no, that’s not allowed here. Developers have the option to disable this ability for their apps, however, as Steinberg chose to do with Dorico, Avid has disabled this option for Sibelius, likely for the same reasons — there is already a directly comparable macOS app that is designed specifically for a desktop computer.

More information, and conclusions for now

In connection with the release of Sibelius on iPad, Avid has launched a number of resources. In addition to their  introductory video, you’ll find an announcement on the Avid blog and a new Sibelius for Mobile section of the Avid site, along with a series of seven Getting Started videos.

Sibelius’s sweet spot on iPad, and its likeliest potential, is for the great many users who rely on Sibelius on a Mac or PC, and want a way to open and work with their scores on iPad when they’re not at their desktop. If you’re one of those users, your Sibelius plan just became a lot more valuable at no extra cost to you. And if you have a lapsed subscription or are using an old version of Sibelius, and you have an iPad, this is the right time to get current, more than ever.

Again, I’d think of it in the model of apps that are fully featured on desktop, like Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word, and Dropbox, but that have robust enough iPad counterparts where real work can still be done and where you can make use of some the technologies unique to the iPad.

That’s our first look at the first version of Sibelius on iPad, which, despite some omissions in version 1 like Panorama view and the ability to work with parts, is overall is a really cool and fun experience, and a significant milestone in the evolution of music notation software. It especially brings a lot of additional value to existing Sibelius users, and anyone can download the app for free and use its basic features.

From our end, please watch my full Sibelius on iPad video overview made especially for you, the Scoring Notes reader. And of course, tune in to this weekend’s special episode of the Scoring Notes podcast, where I’ll be talking with David MacDonald about both Sibelius and Dorico on iPad, as well as Leo Nicholson on the Dorico side. It should be quite an episode!

Seeing both Dorico and Sibelius released for iPad within the span of day has challenged some assumptions I had about the way music notation software should work, and that’s a good thing. (It’s also been a challenge to keep up with all of the news here at Scoring Notes!) The iPad version of Sibelius is still a work-in-progress, but I am taking the optimistic view that workflow improvements made for the iPad will make their way back to the desktop and improve the experience for all Sibelius users — even those without an iPad. One thing’s for sure: it will be fun to see what the future holds.

Comments

  1. Maximus

    Once again, avid refuse to do anything with the midi and playback capabilities. Time to switch to Dorico !!

    1. LMo

      This is entirely my mood today as well. I want to stay in love with Sibelius, but the ONE SINGLE FEATURE I have wanted for years is a new playback system that isn’t ancient, unintuitive, or hacked together. One that makes it more like a DAW. Get rid of the ridiculous Sound Set Editor + Playback Configurations + Mixer “workflow”. And make it… like Dorico. Staff > mixer strip > add plugins on that mixer strip > add expression maps tied to articulations for key switching those plugins.

  2. David

    Thanks for the excellent review. For those with iPads it seems like a very good start.

    For those of us without them, it seems like Avid at its Avid-iest. The pricing scheme for perpetual license holders assures we pay a year in advance for updates, innovations etc. Because of this, I don’t know if they could have rolled this out in a worse way. After 6 months of near silence, Avid puts out an “update” (or whatever this is called) that many of its users are incapable of using, even when we paid for it in advance.

    I hope Avid realizes that this is not a case of “sour grapes”, not at all. It’s just a great example of how bad the Avid subscription/maintenance schemes can be, especially for longtime customers. Sure, someone will come along from Avid and say “keep paying us, and maybe someday we’ll release a version that you can use too, provided that you keep paying us”. This is just wrong, any way one looks at it. We paid in advance for nothing. At least we don’t have to waste any time “downloading” anything, since there is nothing for us to download.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your nice comments on the review!

      Regarding your other comments, I have seen a lot of similar remarks in the past 25 hours about Dorico for iPad, and now with Sibelius on iPad. “I don’t have an iPad, why should I care?” “It’s a slap in the face to PC users!” etc. I think this is a narrow view.

      Whether you have Dorico, Sibelius, or another product, and frankly, whether it is subscription or not, you are always paying for something you don’t use. If you’re a Mac user, and development time needs to be spent making your product work with the latest Windows update, you’re paying for that. And if you never use guitar notation, but the developers spend a cycle overhauling guitar features, you’re paying for that. Hopefully, and ideally, the discoveries made in those areas eventually benefit more areas, like fingering improvements or better chord tools, but sometimes your favorite area isn’t the focus of a development cycle or two. But then, when there is time that is spent on the features and platform(s) that do matter to you, those are paid for by everyone using the software. And so on.

      The iPad has arrived as a pro music platform. Steinberg and Avid have made (a wise, in my opinion) choice to support it. It forces them to think about ways to design their software and how users interact with it. Everyone griped about the Ribbon for so long. In a way, this is Avid listening, however belatedly, and re-imagining how the software can be used. The same with Dorico. The introduction of the Key Editor (piano roll) squarely in Write mode is a really cool idea and they have even said that designing for the iPad made them realize how useful it is.

      So I would encourage users of all these products to take a long view. If you do have an iPad, then congratulations. As of today, you get a lot more value out of your Sibelius subscription. And if you don’t have an iPad, then, sure, it may seem like you’ve gotten the short end of the stick at the moment. But there is a lot here that can, and surely will, make it back to the desktop in time, and might not have happened if the developers only focused solely on a “desktop” app. As I said in the review, this week has challenged my own (sometimes crusty) ways of thinking about what notation software is, and I’m glad for it.

      1. LMo

        I think the root of what David and many others are frustrated at is that there are gaping holes in Sibelius, and the subscription plan (which equals faster, consistent revenue for Avid) is not being put into filling in those holes. Sibelius is being left in the dust by the competition now. And it feels like Avid, being a publicly traded company, is being run by a shareholder committee which might be enthused by things like ProTools and Dolby Atmos and stuff, but when it comes to Avid’s other properties like notation software, they are out of touch, or don’t care much, or don’t even know that Avid owns notation software, or don’t even know what notation software is.

        On that note, Steinberg is absolutely owning Avid even in the DAW space as far as innovation. Nuendo is now worlds above what ProTools ever cared to become. Whenever you hear about a new 3rd party technology, Nuendo already has a partnership and an integration. Dorico has been listening for years carefully to all the woes of Sibelius users and they’ve been delivering.

        So to recap: gaping holes in Sibelius, no fixes, subscription not helping, bureaucratic corporation of clueless shareholders, new companies give us what we want. Carry on.

        1. Philip Rothman

          This feels more like general Avid gripes instead of on point with the iPad release. And while some of it may be warranted, it should be noted that the Sibelius team has recently expanded to include people like well-respected engraver Justin Tokke, so to say they don’t know what notation software is seems a bit hyperbolic.

          In Sibelius-land, people are complaining that the developers spent all this time on iPad, and only the people with iPads get to use it.

          Over in Dorico-land, people are complaining that the developers spent all this time on iPad, and only the people with iPads get to use it, and have the nerve to charge a (very modest) subscription for it.

          I guess it is difficult to please all of the people all of the time.

          1. LMo

            Definitely not talking about the development team here. I’m talking 100% about the execs and shareholders calling the shots about what to develop rather than listening to the users’ wishes, or even glancing at the competition’s features. Or maybe they looked too closely at the competition but in the wrong way: “they’re making an iPad app? Gotta make one too!” This seems like something a shareholder or exec might say, and definitely not what the Sibelius development team would have chosen to do. I imagine they’re all eager to fix and implement what Sibelius users have been asking for for years.

            No one asked for a mobile app, and everyone asks for fixes and a decent playback system. People ask for these things all the time. One quick look at the Sibelius forum and it’s full of unhappy people. There are some who are unhappy because iPad and not something PC-friendly. But there are more who are unhappy because they have not been listened to.

          2. Philip Rothman

            Definitely not talking about the development team here. I’m talking 100% about the execs and shareholders calling the shots

            OK, understood now, thanks. But…

            Or maybe they looked too closely at the competition but in the wrong way: “they’re making an iPad app? Gotta make one too!”

            This is factually inaccurate.

            No one asked for a mobile app…

            Also untrue.

        2. Justin Tokke

          What are the gaping holes in Sibelius that you would like filled? Let me know here or send me an email at [email protected]

          1. LMo

            Justin, thank you for reaching out!

            So as not to derail the discussion completely away from iPad, I’ll email you.

            Despite the mixed feelings, the iPad app is a big achievement and though it may not be what many were hoping, I’m sure it will become widely used and loved!

      2. David

        Hi Philip,

        most of that is easily understood and sensible. I think the “backstory” is missing here, which has caused much of the frustration. That’s why I mentioned it’s not “sour grapes” and I meant it. It isn’t “I don’t have an iPad so why should I care”, not even close. Progress on Sibelius itself has been slow, communication has been poor. The steady stream of updates has taken a nosedive. That’s the story.

        Some of us have been Avid customers for a long time, we’ve lived through some tumultous years and didn’t jump ship. A little “re-assurance” might be in order. There are universal problems like an antiquated mixer that would affect all users. Another good example that Avid seems to be doing well is accessibility for the sight impaired, that’s something excellent and good for the overall software even if it doesn’t affect one personally. So IMO it’s not a matter of “it doesn’t affect me”, just overall frustration with the progress and the communication.

        Perhaps a happy medium can be reached, I would go as far to say “it has to be” in order to keep longtime customers from bailing. Throw us a bone too – fix the mixer, have better vst support etc. These are the requests I see the most. If basics can be accomplished, that would help keep customers happier when they wait six months then see “it’s an iPad version you can’t use!”

        1. Philip Rothman

          I know you didn’t say “I don’t have an iPad so why should I care,” and I should have mentioned I was trying to address the larger universe of comments there, many of which are in that vein. Sorry Dave!

          Ideally, the happy medium you wish for would be nice. But, as Daniel Spreadbury recently said, there are fewer Dorico developers than he has fingers. The same is true with Sibelius. They can only do so much at once.

        2. Justin Tokke

          You’ll be happy to know that many of the improvements we’ve built out into the iPad version will be included in a future version of the desktop app soon. We’ve learned a heck of a lot as a team on how to reimagine Sibelius in new ways, especially when it comes to UI design and keeping workflows smooth. Stay tuned!

  3. Jorge Grundman

    It is a great and amazing release. Many thanks to AVID. And many thanks to Philip for the review. I am looking forward the support desktop plugins or how to install them in iPad. I believe we need to wait a little…

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Jorge – I’m glad you enjoyed the review!

  4. Alex

    Great news. Congratulations.
    And, as always on this site, a wonderful, high-quality review, both in the form of text and video.

    A small remark. I was almost immediately confused by the screenshots in which I don’t like how the treble clef looks and especially the “broken” (that is, too curved) curly brace. Looks awful. This is not the style I’m used to seeing by default in desktop Sibelius, and that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it. The default style in desktop Sibelius is beyond competition for me, although I do my own fine tuning a little. It was this style that always looked the most natural for me (and this is not a matter of habit, I remember this feeling when I was just choosing a music editor). And such “broken” curly braces are more reminiscent of some other sheet music editors.

  5. Adrien de Croy

    Thanks for the great review.

    Unlike many, I actually have a lot of appreciation for what Avid is doing here. I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that Dorico released their iPad version yesterday. I imagine when Guitar Player announced the creation of Muse group, and acquired StaffPad last year, the cat was set among the pigeons, and Steinberg and Avid both scrambled to field a player in that competition. Neither of these products was thrown together quickly. I’m sure when the announcements around MuseScore 4 were put out, there was a lot of concern at Avid and Steinberg as well.

    Unlike many who look at the impact only on themselves, I would offer a higher level view.

    If you use Sibelius, you are an investor in Avid. If Sibelius were to fail in the market, and start losing money, how long do you think you would continue to get any sort of development done on it?

    All Sibelius users need Avid to succeed with Sibelius in order to get our new candies. This success necessarily means competing in whatever area / battleground is required. For now it seems that the focus of all the vendors is the iPad.

    So we should not begrudge the work on the iPad platform, not for Sibelius nor Dorico. It indicates significant commercial will is being applied to forward the products. This is a good thing.

    Just my 2c.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thank you Adrien for the compliment on the review and the very reasonable business analysis.

    2. Adrien de Croy

      Further to this, I wonder whether the StaffPad release of Dec 2020 had a lot to do with it. The first cross-platform version of StaffPad with compelling playback features. Once you go from supporting Windows to Windows + IOS, it’s a perhaps short leap to support macOS, and that would put StaffPad firmly competing with Sibelius and Dorico in their home turf? Sure you might need a digitiser tablet or Apple may need to support a stylus in macOS. Or StaffPad may need to alter their thinking on pen-only input. I’ve been trying SP over the last 24hrs, and it’s troublesome in that respect.

      From the walkthrough video, it looks like getting music into Sibelius for iPad is actually pretty well done. I agree about panorama view. If you have a large score (many staves), it’s tedious to have to scroll from the bottom of one page to the top left of the next just to go to the next note.

      I would love now to see a comprehensive 3-way shootout between Dorico for iPad, Sibelius for iPad and StaffPad for iPad. Both in terms of what it means for desktop notation software users, vs new users on iPad platform only.

      I think we will see some quick updates too. Now that all the cards are on the table, there will be some changes I’m sure.

      I appreciate Avid gives me Sibelius for iPad for free under my perpetual Sibelius Ultimate license maintenance plan, whereas to run Dorico on the iPad I will have to pay more money (even though I also have a Dorico Pro license – even worse still a subscription), and will also be limited to 12 staves (which doesn’t work for any of my scores bar a small handful).

      Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

  6. TH

    Thank you so much for this wonderful review.
    I just downloaded the iPad version and played around with it an hour or so. Well done, AVID!

    One issue though: “Even our Norfolk and Pori fonts are included” … well, what should I do to use these fonts? Right now I am greeted with Helsinki font and I see no way to change it. Even the documentation will give no hints.
    Any suggestions welcome! :)

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi TH, and thank you!

      Right now, you can’t switch text styles on Sibelius on iPad. So, you will need to start with a document on the desktop that uses Norfolk or Pori fonts, and then, when you open it on the iPad, it will use and display them correctly.

  7. GC

    Thank you for the insightful review. I’ve been hoping for an iPad version for several years and was starting to wonder if it would ever happen.

    I know that this first version doesn’t have all the bells and whistles (yet) but this sets the wheels in motion for the future.

  8. Bob Zawalich

    Re: the Repeat (R) key

    There is a Repeat Command in Command Search. As far as I can tell, you need to type Rep into the search box to get it to appear, and then select from a list. Not convenient, but at least the functionality is available, even without a keyboard.

    If you have an attached keyboard (I have a non-Apple bluetooth keyboard that seems to work fine), then typing R will perform Repeat.

    So the command is there, and there is a keyboard shortcut for it (but only on an external keyboard)real issue is that there is no convenient way to access R without an external keyboard.

    What I am waiting for, or course, is plugins. here is no access in this version even the the build-in ones, like Split Bar and Renotate Performance, much less all the wonderful plugins that can be installed in the desktop version…I am told they will come someday (Of course, Daniel told me the same thing about Dorico, and I am still waiting).

    Wonderful reviews, of both Sibelius and Dorico, by the way. Thanks, as always, for your great work.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Bob! It would, of course, be terrific to see plug-ins on the iPad, either in their current form or some newly-imagined form that took full advantage of what the iPad has to offer.

      Yes, regarding the Repeat function, if you look very carefully at 14:49 of the “First look” video, I do use this function in precisely this way, by calling it from Command Search. I suppose it becomes a trade-off between how many buttons to put right on the interface compared to hiding them behind disclosure controls to maintain the more minimalist approach. As Joe said, once you put a button there it become difficult to remove it, so I don’t know what the correct answer is here, yet!

  9. Leif Sundstrup

    Sibelius for Mobile is so close to being extraordinarily brilliant, but there are some flaws that should never even be in the 1st version. Having to hold finger or pen pressure for a while to activate another feature is so counter-intuitive. There needs to be another tapping feature or shortcut or icon instead of hold. This is so frustrating when you need to get something done quickly. Even if you could adjust the “hold time” in a settings menu, it’s not an adequate solution, even on iPad. So much in the Sibelius for Mobile is awesome (I am an Ultimate subscriber) that it seems there are many more very clever programmers than professional composers/arrangers involved in the development.

    However, I know this will be addressed in the future as will be the playback features (like the awesome sample libraries for StaffPad for iPad) etc. I just hope that the histrionics of the app will not overshadow the functionality.

    Anyhow, the Sibelius for Mobile App is so awesome in every other way, and so close to being THE game changer.

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