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Apple hopes Logic Pro X support will make the MacBook Pro Touch Bar sing

New features, including Touch Bar support, are coming to Apple's music apps.

Logic Pro X, working with the MacBook Pro touch Bar.

Two of Apple's apps for musicians and music producers, Logic Pro X for Macs and the iOS version of GarageBand, are getting free updates that add new features.

Both updates will be released in time for the 2017 National Association of Music Merchants trade show happening this week in Anaheim, California. Logic Pro X is a professional music recording and production app for MacOS, and GarageBand is a consumer-friendly music sketchbook for MacOS and iOS (but only the iOS version is being updated right now).

New features for Logic Pro X, which jumps to version 10.3, include support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro. Other Logic highlights include:

  • A new, modern-feeling UI that fits in with the flatter look of MacOS.
  • Touch Bar navigation of a project's timeline and touch control of individual settings, such as volume or sound-effect control knobs.
  • Touch Bar control for software instruments built into Logic, including turning the Touch Bar into a tiny piano keyboard or drum pads.
  • Selection-based effects processing, allowing you to "print" a plugin effect onto a section of a track. This may not sound like a big deal, but it's very handy for mixing music.
  • A Track Alternatives feature, which lets you stack up alternate takes of an audio region easily and swap between them.
  • An improved 64-bit summing engine, 192 additional busses for routing audio signals, and true stereo panning -- all of interest for mixers and producers.

Different views of Garage Band on iOS devices.


Garage Band for iOS also gets a handful of new features, many designed to make it feel more like the higher-end Logic package (here's a sample tune we cooked up for the last GarageBand update). Highlights include:

  • Built-in instruments are easier to sort through, with sounds sorted into better categories for searching.
  • Alchemy, a well-known synth program that was acquired by Apple a few years ago, is being added to Garage Band. It was previously available only for Logic Pro X.
  • Multi-take recording, which allows you to record several versions of a part and switch between them.
  • A new "inspector" view of a track, that works more like a traditional channel strip, with one-tap access to effects, EQ and other tools.
  • Both music programs get some new cross-platform features as well. A new sharing option will take your Logic Pro X project, mix it down to a single stereo track, upload it to iCloud, then allow you to import it into Garage Band on an iOS device. From there, you can add more tracks (such as recording something on location via your iPhone or iPad), then send the entire combined project back to Logic Pro X on your laptop or desktop.

Garage Band 2.2 is free for most iOS users, or $5, £4 or AU$7 for some older devices. Logic Pro X 10.3 is a free update for Logic Pro X users, or $199, £149 or AU$319 for new customers. Both software updates should be available on January 18.

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