Apple upgrades GarageBand for iOS with in-app instrument store and 80s-style drum machines

“A fancy new iPhone’s as good a reason as any to bring a big upgrade to Apple’s free music production service, GarageBand,” Brian Heater reports for TechCrunch. “The iOS version of the app is getting a slew of updates for 2.3, starting with a layout optimized for the iPhone X’s 458 ppi display.”

“The biggest bit of news for today’s free upgrade, however, is the addition of Sound Library — a long awaited feature that finally makes GarageBand’s instrument selection much more dynamic,” Heater reports. “It’s essentially an app store located within the app, wherein you can can download additional Sound Packs — which are either instruments or groupings of instruments like ‘Percussionists’ or ‘Rock Drummers.'”

Heater reports, “Today’s download brings a number of new instrument offerings into the fold, including Beat Sequencer, a new way to create electronic and old school hip-hop beats in a glowing neon interface that takes a page out of the instruction manual of classic drum machines like Roland’s 808.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Tying in nicely to Apple Music’s very first documentary, 808: The Movie.

Apple Music’s first exclusive documentary is a paean to Roland’s legendary TR-808 – December 10, 2016


  1. I find it strange. Back in the 808 days we couldn’t wait for something better and more realistic, and Roland seemed to be trying to make our wishes come true as soon as possible. Now there’s all this effort to go back to sounds that we thought, at the time, were shitful!

    And I wonder when the upgrade for their pro music app is coming? Maybe soon… Or maybe Garageband is gonna be the pro app as time goes on?… zzzzzzz

    1. No, the people using it were using it because they liked it fine. Because if they didn’t like it, there was always… acoustic drums. Like, the same as they do today.

      There were people then that didn’t like it, and I would assume that if those people haven’t changed in between, they still don’t like it.

      1. It’s not quite like that. Back then, if you needed to record a drum track, you could either hire a real drummer, buy a sample-based LinnDrum for over $3k, or get a TR-606 for less than $500. For many of us, this was the only affordable option.

        When affordable sample-based drum machines came along, we sold off our old analogue TR boxes and enthusiastically embraced the digital stuff.

        However, the analogue boxes gained new life when house/dance and hip-hop embraced them. The sound persists today in these genres.

    2. Music is another industry where fashions come and go. New sounds suddenly become all the range, people get bored with them and then they a fall out of favour, only to be rediscovered or re-invented in years to come.

      You can often put a date to music just by listening for certain instruments or techniques, just as you can put a date to a car by looking at it’s styling, or put a date to pictures of people by what they’re wearing.

      The great thing about software instruments like GarageBand is that it can recreate a tremendous selection of sounds, so therefore however musical tastes evolve, GarageBand can evolve too.

    3. When they first came out (808, 909, and especially 606), the sample-based drum machines were unaffordable by all but richest musicians (LinnDrum was over $3,000, which is some $10k in today’s value). These Rolands were the only devices an independent musicians could use in place of a real (and expensive) studio drummer.

      Within a few years, cheap sample-based drum machines started coming out (Roland’s own TR-505), which allowed us poor musicians to record our demos with drums that sounded much more like real drummers.

      However, the analogue, oscillator-based drum machines like 808 and 909 took on a different life. Hip-hop artists have embraced them for their punchy, synthetic qualities, and on the other end of the spectrum, dance/house/electronica producers found them blending perfectly with their all-electronic productions. Between these two, the devices good a new life and a sudden massive surge in popularity.

      As for “their pro app”, I’m assuming you mean Logic Pro X. That one has seen last major update earlier this year (10.3), with minor update coming less than two months ago (10.3.2).

      I’m not sure how often Apple needs to update Logic Pro X in order to make it often enough for you.

        1. Wasn’t the most recent update also fixing some bugs, in addition to introducing new features (big and small)? I don’t get to use Logic Pro X that often to notice any bugs, so I can’t tell if any notable outstanding ones are still there, but to me, both the big one last winter (10.3), as well as the recent small one (10.3.2) had some quite nice enhancements and features.

          I know Apple is all about the iPhone these days, but I’m still quite pleased that for just $200, we get a very competent DAW (can’t say it’s any worse than Pro Tools), plus we get all future updates, seemingly in perpetuity. Avid keeps taking your money (in perpetuity), and as soon as you stop paying, the application is gone.

  2. The documentary looks awesome! One of the perks of getting older is being able to watch the history of what you lived through being told by the people who were making that history. It makes you feel young again. But, at the same time, appreciate what you know now.

    1. discovered and popularized by Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins from 1979 to the mid-1980s. Everybody jumped on the new sound for about five years and wore it out. Then something else came along. Several decades later, it is “new” again.

  3. Not only 80’s style machines, but Ableton Push, Novation Circuit all use the same kind of interface to create all styles of beats, not just the 808 (though the 808 is the default 🙂

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