Apple WWDC: 4 things that music makers need to know about


A lot of what’s said during an Apple keynote doesn’t feel particularly relevant if you’re a music maker. The new health and fitness features in watchOS 6 are probably of little concern, and the launch of tvOS 13 isn’t going to help you finish that album any faster.

However, Apple did say some stuff at its WWDC event yesterday that you will care about, and could have an impact on the way you make your tunes in the future.  

Here, then, are the 4 new Apple things that music makers need to know about.

1. The iPad is getting its own OS

As anyone who makes music on one will tell you, the iPad is a very different beast to the iPhone, with its larger screen and greater choice of apps giving you far more options. Now Apple has recognised this too and released iPadOS, a tablet-specific operating system that looks like it could make give iPad a more computer-like feel.

As well as a new Home screen that can show more apps on each page, there are also enhanced Split View and Slide Over modes, and Apple Pencil support has been expanded. However, music makers might be more appreciative of the more powerful Files app.

As well as iCould Drive support for folder sharing, the Files app also supports external hard drives, which could have implications for those working with large projects, audio files and sample libraries. You also get local storage, zip and unzip of files, and new keyboard shortcuts.

This updated file management is also included in iOS 13, the new iPhone OS that Apple has previewed. It’s worth noting, too, that both iPadOS and iOS 13 are said to offer performance improvements: a new way of packaging apps on the App Store reduces download sizes by up to 50%, and makes app updates up to 60 percent smaller. The theory is that this will result in apps launching up to twice as fast.

iPadOS and iOS 13 should be available in the third quarter of 2019.

macOS sidecar

2. macOS Catalina lets you use your iPad as a second screen

Apple’s desktop operating is also getting a refresh - macOS Catalina will be released later this year.  The good news is that the bloated iTunes app has been binned, to be replaced by separate Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV apps. Management of connected iOS devices will now be done through the Finder.

A definite bonus for musicians could be Sidecar, which enables you to use your iPad as a second screen for your Mac. Grab yourself a MacBook Pro and an iPad and you’ve got yourself a fully portable dual-display production setup, albeit a rather expensive one.

Mac Pro side off

3. There’s a new Mac Pro

With prices starting at $5,999, we’d say that this really is a pros only machine, but if you want the most powerful and most expandable Apple music-making computer, this is it.  

Crucially, it no longer looks like a trash can, and actually more like the silver Mac Pro towers of old. The side panel is removable, making it much easier to access the internals and configure them as you wish.

The machine is powered by Xeon processors of up to 28 cores, a high-performance memory system that can accommodate up to 1.5TB and eight PCIe expansion slots and a graphics architecture. There’s also the dramatic-sounding Apple Afterburner, an accelerator card that enables playback of three streams of 8K ProRes RAW video simultaneously.

4. We could be seeing more iPad apps on the Mac

Apple has unveiled several technologies that it says will make it easier and faster not only to create new apps, but also to bring iPad ones to the Mac. Apple says that, with Xcode, developers can now open an existing iPad project and check a box “to automatically add fundamental Mac and windowing features, and adapt platform-unique elements like touch controls to keyboard and mouse”.  

Whether this means that we’ll start seeing more simultaneous iPad/Mac app releases remains to be seen, but it does sound like it could be a possibility.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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