Playground App: An iOS Instrument That Gets Touch Control Right
The DJ industry isn’t as mobile device-obsessed at this NAMM as in recent years, but we did spot one unique app being shown in the always-awesome basement, a new iOS app called Playground. The free song player has done an excellent job of making playing music on an glass-screened mobile device fun – something that often many pad and knob-filled mobile performance tools miss the mark on.
Playground App for iOS
- App: Playground
- Developer: HLO S.A. (the team that brought us Beatsurfing back in 2012)
- Price: Free – more songs are available in the app for $0.99
- Availability: Now on iTunes App Store
- Device Compatibility: iOS 8.4 or later (all devices)
An Intelligently Designed Touch Interface
Too many music apps made for touchscreen devices have knobs or controls that aren’t easy to use without a real-world object to grab. It makes it difficult and after a few minutes of playing, your fingers hurt from tapping against unrelenting glass repeatedly.
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What the Playground developers get so right on this app is that playing music on an iPad isn’t fun when you have to try to turn a fiddly dial or repeatedly tap a pad on a glass screen. Instead, keeping your fingers on the device’s screen and gliding, swiping, sliding, and occasionally lifting and moving your fingers is how Playground works best. You find paths across buttons that sound interesting, not individual buttons you need to tap over and over.
It’s Easy To Sound Decent
The other side of the Playground app is that the song templates on the app (a few are included for free, and more from notable artists like D-Styles, Free The Robots, and 20Sly are available for 99¢) are very well laid out and carefully quantized. Once you follow through the warm-up lesson, discovering different paths to travel through each song template starts to become intuitive.
The objects in each template are fun and unique – there are XY pads, shakers that you can grab and move around to hit other objects, switch up objects that change the sounds around it when activated or rearrange the objects on-screen, and many other concepts that are only possible on touch devices. Each Playground template is unique and has different types of playable elements to discover – it’s all part of the fun.
We’re hoping that Playground will continue to get more artists involved and making fun, unique playgrounds of sound for music lovers to play with. Our one dream feature: it would be really cool to see user-designable templates for some DIY action!