Mikrosonic: exclusive interview with the music-app pioneers
There are only a few useful music-apps in the Android Market; SPC and RD3 by Berlin-based developers Mikrosonic are two of them. These applications impressed us on many levels, so we met up with the creators and talked about the Android-OS, music-apps in general and the future of their applications.
androidnews.de: To begin with, tell us about your backgrounds. How did you end up developing music-apps?
Mikrosonic: In the past we used to work for bigger companies in the field of music-software. Then, after a few years of developing software without any relation to music, we felt like going back to our passion — so we founded Mikrosonic.
androidnews.de: Why exactly are you developing on and for the Android-OS? Until now Apples iOS seemed to be the favorable platform for this kind of applications.
Mikrosonic: At the moment iOS really has some advantages regarding the development of real time-audio-applications — but we preferred Android as a platform: the system's general openness and the available Audio-APIs suit our concept. Apps are more effectively working together and complement one another. At the same time the OS does still suffer from some teething troubles. But generally it is taking a very good direction.
androidnews.de: Speaking of the development of Android: Will the current Gingerbread-update give you some useful new features? What would you wish for in future OS-Updates?
Mikrosonic: Definitely: Gingerbread brings lower latencies and at last native audio-support — two improvements that are vital and very helpful for our field of work. It is possible that we release future versions of our apps exclusively for devices that run on Android 2.3 or higher simply because we can't realize certain features on older versions of the OS.
If we could wish for a certain feature in a future update it would be the support of a USB-host controller, which would make the connection of an external sound card possible. This would not only result in a professional sound quality but would also make the interaction with other devices via MIDI possible – which would be very useful when working with tablets.
androidnews.de: Everybody is talking about tablets these days. What's your opinion towards these devices? Are they useful for music-apps or are they just trendy gadgets?
Mikrosonic: In our opinion a tablet is the ideal device for using a music app. Until now people used laptops in combination with MIDI-keyboards or -controller. But on a device with a multitouchscreen the creation and composition of sounds is much easier thanks to its intuitive mode of operation.
Furthermore a tablet simply offers more space for finger-input. You see, there lies the problem with the range of functions on a smartphone: not only does the hardware impose certain restrictions but also the available space on the screen. For us usability is always the main concern. There is no use in implementing 20 different features that the user can't intuitively and effectively choose, because the buttons are too small.
A good layout simply is the most important thing for an app. The same thing applies to navigation: We try to provide every screen with a visual anchor, so the user always knows where he is and how to reach the desired menu.
By the way, we already have uploaded a tablet-optimized version of our RD3-app that runs under Android 3.0 Honeycomb in the Android Market. It offers some additional features like a second bassline and two effect channels that can be assigned freely.
androidnews.de: Do you consider your apps as ideal for beginners or are they more suitable for music-professionals?
Mikrosonic: Both. An experienced user can utilize the whole range of functions of our applications and thus work very effectively while a beginner at the same time will be able to create some nice sequences with only a few inputs — and thus hopefully will be motivated to further immerse into the field. We definitely want to address both types of users, as well as all the ones in between.
androidnews.de: The crucial question: Can one become rich by developing music-apps? Seriously, can you make a living from developing these applications?
Mikrosonic: Well, at the moment it's more living than getting rich — but that could change soon enough. Basically there is a lot of potential in this area. And even if we mainly develop these apps out of our own passion for music-software we wouldn't object to earning one or two Euros more — mainly because this would allow us to hire additional personnel and thus being able to implement even more of our ideas into the apps.
androidnews.de: One final question: I imagine that while developing apps sometimes there are certain ideas or code-fragments that could be used in a totally different kind of application. Is it possible that Mikrosonic one day will publish a music player, a game or something totally different?
Mikrosonic: Sure, while creating our music-apps we are learning a lot about the platform. So generally we would able to develop a different application. But at the moment we are fully concentrated on our original field of work, which is the development of music apps.
We'd like to thank Nils and Toine from Mikrosonic for their time and the pleasant chat.
Download RD3 HD: Market