Without using 3rd party apps, Garageband and Voice Memos are the only options on iOS for recording music. If it’s just a quick idea you need to record before you forget it, Garageband is overkill. You have to open the app, create a new file, and start recording. It’s a surprisingly powerful app for creating complete tunes or fleshing out your recordings, but it isn’t ideal as an app for quickly recording ideas. Voice Memos is a better option for speed and simplicity; open the app, record, simple as that. It has no advanced features and wasn’t designed with musicians in mind but it does the job. Apple’s new app also takes this approach but improves on it in every possible way.
Music Memos doesn’t appear to differ much from Voice Memos upon launching the app for the first time. You’re greeted with a simple record button, which is exactly what you want with an app designed for quickly capturing your ideas. Dig a little deeper and you realise the app sets itself apart with some great tools. There’s a built-in tuner, so you don’t need a separate app for that. Recordings can be given tags so that you can search through all your previous ideas to find what you’re looking for. The app is able to really show off once you’ve actually recorded something. Recordings are analysed and bass or drum tracks can be automatically added. Everything is automated and seems to work very well in my testing, though you can also manually edit the tempo or chords. I’m really enjoying the app so far. It’s cute and convenient, with just the right balance of features and simplicity.
Garageband for iOS was updated with lots of new features including Live Loops for DJs, a virtual drummer that you can direct, 1,200 new loops and sounds, and the ability to record up to 32 tracks simultaneously. The joint release of Music Memos and the Garageband update wasn’t coincidental and they play nicely together. After recording a genius idea in Music Memos, I was able to open it later in Garageband and start playing around with it further. Music Memos can save recordings using iCloud, so you can also open your ideas in the OSX versions of Garageband and Logic Pro.
Music Memos for iOS is available for free from the App Store.