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Apple unveils new music app

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A new music making app from Apple called Music Memos now allows musicians to capture, organise and develop songs straight from their iPhone or iPad.

Apple has announced a new update to its family of music-making apps for iOS that make it easy for people to tap into their musical potential and create music wherever they are. A new app called Music Memos lets musicians and songwriters quickly capture, organise and develop musical ideas on an iPhone. And a major update to GarageBand for iOS introduces multiple new features, including Live Loops, a fun way for anyone to make music like a DJ using only an iPhone or iPad.

“Musicians around the world, from the biggest artists to aspiring students, use Apple devices to create amazing music; the innovative new Music Memos app will help them quickly capture their ideas on iPhone and iPad whenever inspiration strikes,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “GarageBand is the most popular music creation app in the world, and this update helps everyone easily tap into their musical talent with the powerful new Live Loops and Drummer features, and adds support for the larger iPad Pro screen and 3D Touch on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.”

“Sometimes ideas come faster than I can get them into my notebook so I’ve used Voice Memos and Notes to quickly capture songs before they’re lost. Music Memos is like if those two apps came together to form some kind of superpower for songs,” said Ryan Adams, critically acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer. “It quite literally blew my mind how Music Memos could transform a single guitar idea into a whole composition with a virtual drummer loose enough that it felt like you were having your mind read by some A.I. musician and a choice of stand-up or electric bass accompaniments.”

“I recorded my first album using GarageBand and I continue to use it in my music today,” said T-Pain, Grammy Award-winning artist and producer. “I love how the new Live Loops in GarageBand lets me quickly build tracks and beats, and even perform effects like a musical instrument. It’ll change the way an entire generation makes music.”

Apple provided the following additional information:

Musicians and songwriters around the world have used the Voice Memos app on their iPhone to quickly record ideas, and many hit songs first started as Voice Memos. The new Music Memos app is inspired by Voice Memos and takes the functionality even further by adding musician-friendly features designed specifically for songwriting and developing musical ideas.

With Music Memos, you can record any musical instrument through the iPhone’s built-in microphone in a high-quality, uncompressed format, then name, tag and rate it to start building a library of your ideas. The app can analyse rhythm and chords of acoustic guitar and piano recordings, and instantly add drums and a bass line to provide a virtual, customisable backing band that plays along to match the feel of your song.

Music Memos can even provide basic notation that displays the chords that were played. With iCloud your Music Memos are automatically available across all your Apple devices so you can open them in GarageBand or Logic Pro X to further develop your songs. Musicians can easily share their ideas via email or with their fans through Apple Music Connect. For more information about the new Music Memos app, visit, www.apple.com/music-memos.

GarageBand for iOS is the world’s most popular mobile music creation app, and the new GarageBand 2.1 update introduces Live Loops, an entirely new and intuitive way to create amazing music. Inspired by DJ hardware controllers and drum machines, Live Loops makes it easy for anyone to create music by simply tapping cells and columns in a highly visual grid to trigger different looped instruments and samples.

The loops can be performed, arranged and remixed Iive, and GarageBand automatically keeps all the beats in sync with perfect time and pitch. To get you started, Live Loops comes with a library of Apple-designed loop templates in a variety of genres including EDM, Hip Hop, Dubstep and Rock, or you can create your own loops from scratch.

GarageBand 2.1 for iOS also includes the new Drummer feature with nine EDM and acoustic virtual session drummers that provide their own signature sound, as well as an expanded selection of amps for bass players. Advanced GarageBand users can now create even more dynamic and polished sounding songs using new automation features, controls recording and a new simple EQ.

GarageBand 2.1 looks stunning on the expansive 12.9-inch Retina display on the new iPad Pro and gives you access to even more controls and room to play. And on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, the app now supports 3D Touch, allowing you to play with more expression. For more information about the new GarageBand for iOS, visit, www.apple.com/ios/garageband.

Pricing & Availability

Music Memos is available for free on the App Store and is compatible with iPhone 4s and later, and iPad 2 and later. GarageBand 2.1 for iOS is bundled free with new iOS devices 32GB and larger, is available as a free upgrade for existing users with compatible iOS 9 devices or later, and is available to everyone else via the App Store.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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