GarageBand 2.3 for iPhone and iPad builds on its already excellent existing features by adding a host of new instruments and sounds to work with.

Back in January Apple released a killer update to GarageBand for iOS, adding a whole lot of advanced components that took the app from lightweight musical sketchpad to fully featured portable DAW.

In this latest update (version 2.3) Apple have managed to squeeze even more functionality into GarageBand iOS. How users go about adding new sounds and instruments to the app has seen an overhaul too.

Here’s the highlights:

 

The Sound Library

Where previously any new instruments, sounds and loops would be dropped en masse (usually as part of a bigger update) they’re now available ‘on demand’ in the form of additional content packs.

A godsend for users tied to devices with limited storage, you can now pick and choose precisely what sounds you want over the app’s standard installation.

You can access the Sound Library via the instrument browser.

There’s not a massive selection of downloadable content at launch, but you can expect extra Instruments, drum kits, presets, Live Loop grids and more to be added on a regular basis.

 

The size of these packs varies depending on their contents. The Percussionists Drummer pack for example comes in at just 29MB and contains 3 new Drummers and 3 Percussion kits to play on.

 

The Edges and Angles Future Bass pack on the other hand is 101MB in total and comes with 335 Apple Loops, 18 Alchemy sounds, 1 Drum kit and 2 Live Loop grids.

Not having to wait for the appearance of a major update to add extra content to the app is a huge bonus.

It also gives you the opportunity to personalize ‘your’ GarageBand’s suite of touch instruments and additional sounds to your own liking.

Did I mention they’re all completely free to download? Very cool.

 

Brand New Sounds

So what kind of shiny new toys are waiting for you in the Sound Library’s content packs?

You can get to grips with 3 new far eastern flavoured touch instruments spread across the Japanese Traditional and Chinese Traditional packs.

The Koto Touch instrument, Taiko Drum Touch instrument and Guzheng Touch instrument are all welcome additions.

 

You’ll also find 6 new drummers available for GarageBand iOS’ Drummer feature.

3 in the previously mentioned Percussionists Drummer pack and 3 more in the Rock Drummers Pack.

 

In the Tone Collection Guitar Sound pack, you’ll find 21 new amp and stompbox effects.

I’ve just scratched the surface of the new sonic goodness available in GarageBand 2.3’s Sound Library here. Definitely take the time to dive in yourself and see what’s on offer!

It’s worth noting that a lot of the new loops, presets and instruments added here seem to have been ported over from GarageBand 10 on Mac.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue to see these existing sounds make their way into GarageBand iOS’ sound library in future.

 

Beat Sequencer

If the Alchemy synth was the standout new feature of GarageBand’s previous ‘big’ update, then the Beat Sequencer is the star of the show in version 2.3.

 

 

In typical GarageBand style, it’s incredibly easy to dive in and create some interesting and usable sounds right away. Scratch below the surface however and you’ll find some robust customization options available.

You’re able to select from several different types of kit and then input/delete hits on parts of said kit with a single touch.

When it comes to fine tuning your pattern, you can adjust the pattern length, step division, playback mode and swing parameter.

There are also a ton of preset grooves that you can use as a starting point.

Perhaps most importantly, the Beat Sequencer is just damn fun to use  –  something that can’t be said for some of the other rythm solutions available to GarageBand iOS users *cough* Smart Drums *cough*.

Another excellent – and very useable – addition to GarageBand iOS’ touch instrument arsenal. Top marks Apple.

 

iOS 11 Support

The way your project files are dealt with has been changed in this update. When you open the ‘My Songs’ screen, you’ll be met with 2 tabs – Recents and Browse.

The Recents tab (unsurprisingly) shows you a selection of GarageBand iOS projects you’ve been working on most recently.

Browse opens your iCloud Drive folder.

Y’see, GarageBand 2.3 takes advantage of iOS 11’s new File system to store projects saved to iCloud in a GarageBand iOS specific folder.

The ability to store your GarageBand projects in iCloud drive is another weight off the shoulders of users rocking devices with limited storage.

Apple could perhaps have been a bit more clear about the change to how iCloud projects are handled though as I’ve had a few dozen anxious GarageBand iOS users contact me, worried that this update had completely deleted their projects…

 

App Breaking Bug

The change in how Project files are handled also seems to explain the app breaking bug that thousands of GarageBand iOS users (myself included) experienced after updating to iOS 11.

Having iCloud enabled in GarageBand’s settings would cause the app to crash as soon as you tried to open it, making the app unusable. Disabling iCloud would allow you to open GarageBand, but you wouldn’t have access to any of your projects saved to the cloud.

It sucked.

The sad realization here is that Apple knew about the issue. Instead of providing a fix for the then current version of the app, they waited until this update to put things right.

Very disappointing from a company famed for their usually excellent customer service.

 

The Verdict

All in all, this is another superb update from Apple.

GarageBand for iOS has evolved dramatically this year and i’m genuinely excited for what’s in store for the app in the near future.

What do you think? Had a chance to get to grips with GarageBand 2.3’s new features yet? Loving the changes? Frustrated by some aspects? Sound off in the comments and let me know!