Apple’s new iPad: What’s in it for musicians?


This article was written in 2012 about the 4th-generation iPad. For the latest iPad Air and iPad mini go here.

It’s hard to avoid an Apple product announcement, so by now you’ve probably already heard about the “new iPad” (third generation).

There are plenty of places to get an overview of the new features, so here at Piano & Synth Magazine we’ll take a closer look at the specifications that are likely to make it an even greater tool for musicians.

Retina Display

The improved display has four times the pixel density of the iPad 2. That means better graphics and more readable text, which means more lifelike (paper-like) display of manuscripts, and more visible detail on buttons, faders, virtual keyboards, and more, in all your favourite music-making apps.

The 9.7-inch screen is the same size as before, but it packs in a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536. That’s a 16:12 ratio but is good enough for any widescreen apps too.

Apple new iPad

Apple new iPad

Dual-core A5X Chip with quad-core graphics

You may not care much for the name, but know that Apple’s own A5X chip has been developed to offer super responsiveness. This is a must when dealing with timing-critical audio and music apps.

A lot of the extra processing power is being diverted to drive the display itself, but Apple is touting the super-responsiveness of the new iPad, so we expect existing apps to run faster (or at least with less stuttering – the bane of any live or studio musician).

AirPlay & iCloud

The new iPad has been designed to be even more connectable – particularly wirelessly. This includes AirPlay which allows music and more to be transmitted over a Wi-Fi network to a compatible HDTV or other device.

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iCloud works on a variety of Apple devices including laptops and newer iPhones as well as the iPad, and will allow files to be automatically synchronised across all devices. This could be a real timesaver and give peace of mind to travelling musicians. Compose and record on the road and know that your home computer has automatically backed everything up safely for you.

iLife GarageBand

Apple has updated the iPad version of GarageBand. It now includes a “Jam Session” feature allowing up to four iPads to connect wirelessly and then play and record audio together. This could allow for some interesting creative possibilities, either for collaborative music or for a single musician running more than one iPad simultaneously.

There’s also a new “Smart Strings” touch instrument which “allows you to play an entire string orchestra with just one finger”, plus a note editor allowing the fine tuning of notes without having to re-record the whole part.

iPhone users with 3GS or better models and iPod touch fourth generation users will be pleased to note that the new GarageBand version is also available for them. It’s available from the App Store.

Other Features

There are plenty of other features including new faster 4G network support, a much improved camera and HD video recording. These may not be clinchers for musicians but it does point to a very capable device that can be used for many other things when it’s not driving your music.

New iPad

The new iPad will be available from Friday 16 March with prices starting at $499. The iPad 2 will be available from a reduced $399.

What do you think? Is the iPad a great music making machine?