If you've ever tried to use the computer while babysitting, you know that the keyboard is essentially a busy box to babies, who love to mash it until they get a reaction, which you provide when they close the app you were using. Baby Computer Piano is a fun bit of freeware that offers a partial solution to the problem at hand (or two hands, even if they're tiny). It disables normal keyboard function, replacing it with a realistic piano sound. The mouse is unaffected, letting you surf the Web and perform other tasks while the wee one … Read more
First off, congrats to Dean N. of Parsippany, N.J., who won a LifeProof iPhone 4 case in last week's Crave giveaway. And now...
While grand pianos have a, well, grandly elegant quality, not everyone has the grand budget--or the grand space--to accommodate one. That's why we're humming a happy tune about this week's freebie, the Korg MicroPiano, a compact, portable digital piano with grand-piano panache (complete with opening lid).
This little piano that could measures 30.79 inches long by 11.46 inches wide by 5.47 inches deep and weighs just 11.5 pounds, but you can produce all manner of musical genius via its 61-key minikeyboard, 60 built-in sounds, and 25 one-touch musical phrases. For roving pianists, it has built-in speakers and optional battery power, but given that it produces "robust and authentic stereo-sampled grand piano sound," according to Korg, you might want to keep it out of the library.
Korg has been around since the '60s and is considered a well-respected musical brand. Normally, its MiniPiano would cost you $499.99, but you have the chance to score it for a cool zero. So, how do you try to win this week's prize to become the hippest pianist in the 'hood? Let us enumerate the basic rules. Please read carefully; there will be a test--in the key of A Minor. … Read more
Smule's Magic Piano for iPhone brings the fun and beginner-friendly piano app to the small screen. Already a popular music-app pick on the iPad, Magic Piano offers up a unique touch-screen music experience, letting you play both classical and pop music hits by following and touching beams of light on the screen. If you don't like following along in Song Book mode, you also have the option to play freestyle in Solo mode, which lets you configure the keyboard into interesting shapes (circular, spiral, and other layouts) to add to the fun as you play.
Part of what … Read more
Most everyone has probably heard about the controversy over the location-tracking behavior on iOS devices since last June. Recently, when a developer made a program to show users' location data on a map, people were understandably concerned that their whereabouts could be tracked through their location logs without their knowledge. Apple promised in an open letter that it would resolve the issue, though the company claims it was not using the information for anything.
On Wednesday, Josh Lowensohn reported that Apple made good on its promise with the release of iOS 4.3.3, reducing the size of the "crowdsourced" location cache, and the device no longer backs up the cache to iTunes.
Even though I downloaded the software and checked out the map to see that my iPhone did indeed track my location, I was never terribly worried about it and took Apple at its word that the location data wasn't being used for anything nefarious. Still, I'm glad to see the company has listened to user concerns. Hopefully this will lay this latest Apple controversy to rest.
What do you think? Were you nervous that your information was being used without your consent or do you even care? Let me know in the comments.
This week's apps are a piano app that lets you play hit songs and a flying disc game that's both graphically beautiful and challenging.… Read more
Great-sounding albums are becoming increasingly rare, so when I find noteworthy efforts I'm happy to share the news. The goal is highlighting new stuff--or at least newly recorded/remastered music--so there's no need to include Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" or Steely Dan's "Aja." I assume you're already hip to the best music from decades past; I'm trying to spread the word about the best new music over a range of styles, with something for every taste.
For more sonicly superior music, check out my "How to make your speakers sound better: Play better-sounding music&… Read more
Taking wearable tech to ridiculous heights is the $9.99 Piano Tie, which touts itself as instrumental, so to speak, in making you "a hit at your next party." That said, this geek accessory is actually a lot more high-tech than it looks.
Sporting touch-sensitive polyester fabric, it's capable of playing eight notes. That's a whole octave plus an extra, which should let you perform classics like Chopsticks, if not Tchaikovsky. A plastic speaker hidden in the knot outputs your tunes, though we've no idea how long two AG 13 button batteries can last. An … Read more
Longtime readers might remember the YouTube piano, an ingenious use of YouTube's deep-linking feature that turned a video with various keys on it into a working piano. This week its creators are introducing a follow-up that's slightly less interactive, but just as amusing, called YouTube radio.
Its function is to emulate an old radio with a tuning dial. Users can switch between the eight stations, which include pop, jazz, rock, and even one for cats (no, seriously). Each of these has been composed by musician Adam Ben Ezra, who was one of the co-creators of the piano project. … Read more
Editors' take: We've already glimpsed how one app developer was able to turn his miniature DJ turntable iPhone app into a realistic, life-size audio mixer for the iPad. In a similar example, app developer Melvin Rivera shares a handful of final screenshots of his piano training app Nota, reconfigured for the iPad.
Arguably, piano and DJ apps aren't likely to be primary uses for the iPad, but both of these early examples illustrate how a change in screen size means much more than larger images. In both examples, we would make the case that the difference between the … Read more
Of all the questions surrounding Apple's forthcoming iPad tablet, the one I find the hardest to answer is, "What can it do that my laptop and smartphone don't already deliver?"
The question is tough to answer for two reasons. For one, until we see how developers are able to tailor their apps, we really can't say to what degree the iPad experience is going to differ from the iPhone or iPod Touch. More importantly, but harder to communicate, is how much the iPad's 9.7-inch touch screen fundamentally changes the nature of how we … Read more
Meet the YouTube piano, a video of piano notes that has on-screen annotations that skip to that particular part of the video and thus the corresponding note. In practice, you could play a song, as some YouTube commenters have done with deep-linked comments. But to be honest, it can't (and won't) sound close to the real thing.
Still, this is about the … Read more