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


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.

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!

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Comments (4)
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    Tried the app. It is certainly pretty fun and playable. You can play all the tracks many different ways. The dragging is really novel. I made a video of me testing it out.

  • noxxi

    this is really more of a game than a control interface, a game where you can mess around with another artists music, I suspect it will have an extremely limited number of sounds, in an bunch of weird genres and will eventually disappear from existence.

    Watching the video, it looked kind of useless in a professional context.

  • bjrgvn

    I was gonna say that it looks like a clone of Beatsurfing, but seems like it’s the same people behind it trying tomake it more mainstream (Hermutt Lobby). I think Beatsurfing is still around but that’s basically what you are looking for in terms of user-designable:

    • jm2c

      beatsurfing is awesome, just wish it was updated with more features and more comprehensive mapping system. It’d be a killer controller paired with an iConnectMidi for some hardware gear based-setup if the midi mapping capabilities were better.