When we heard that Cakewalk's iOS debut was a tempo-synced loop player rather than any sort of Sonar spin-off or controller, we were a little disappointed. Hopefully, something along those lines is on the to-do list, because ScratchPad HD feels like a directionless attempt to get a foothold in the App Store and flog some IAP.
ScratchPad HD gives you nine sample slots into which audio clips from a small categorised library (Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Hip Hop, etc), five £1.99 IAP expansion packs and your Dropbox account can be loaded.
Slots can be swapped by dragging, although we experienced quite a few crashes doing that (amongst other things). Samples can be played looped or one-shot, and there are three trigger modes to choose from: Normal, Momentary (the sample plays back until the play button is released) and Re-Trigger (the sample restarts every time the play button is pressed).
Individual slots can be set to trigger in accordance with the global quantise Resolution or have their own sync settings established; and the three clips in each vertical column can be triggered as a group.
A modicum of manipulation is on hand, starting with the circular control pad in each slot. Here, you can stutter the audio at 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 and 1/32 resolution, scratch the waveform vinyl-style, and apply a tape-style slow/stop effect via a button that has to be held to work (oddly, the per-column equivalents are toggled).
Volume and pan are adjusted in the slot-contextual Inspector column on the left, which also hosts a decent enough low-pass/high-pass filter with X/Y controller. Performances can be recorded as audio and uploaded to Dropbox.
ScratchPad HD is not a serious production tool, but nonetheless, it needs more effects; and when importing your own loops, as there's no timestretch function, you have to hope that the app reads the tempo correctly, rather than doubling or halving it. This isn't the only loop player on the App Store with this problem, but we expect better from a developer of Cakewalk's stature.
Looking on the bright side, now that Cakewalk has dipped its coding toes into the iOS waters, we hope it'll wow us with more serious and practical apps.