Using your iPhone as a MIDI controller?

Hands on control?
Hands on control?

A suite of new apps for iPhone and iPod Touch could unlock the power of Apple's handheld devices for controlling many music programs. The iTM Suite is in the beta testing stage at present, but it could be ideal for many live electronic musicians.

Users can get hold of the iTM MidiLab app right now. And it's free from the website. The only downside is that it's currently only available for controlling computers running Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and above. Users with Tiger or Windows on their computer will not be able to use iTM MidiLab at present.

iTM MidiLab is primarily used for sending and receiving MIDI information between an iPhone/iPod Touch and a computer running music software. You'll need an airport card for networking the two, as Bluetooth won't do the job.

iTM Matrix is a button app that can be used for triggering samples and sending MIDI controller information. The makers suggest that this will be perfect for triggering clips in Ableton's Live.

iTM Keys is a standard keyboard with modulation and cc bend information. It shows a single octave on screen at any one time, with buttons for sweeping up and down the other octaves. A maximum range from c-2 to c8 is available.

Last up is the iTM XYPad, which predictably enough allows X-Y control of various parameters. This has obvious uses for controlling effects or modulation, and features useful spring switches for returning to centre or zero in a single button push.

Work in progress

However, it doesn't end there. Silicon Studio's are also working on some other apps to slot alongside the ones mentioned above.

First, there's the iTM MCU, which is a Multipoint Control Unit that we presume may allow more than one iPhone/iPod Touch to be used at any one time.

Next, there's the iTM Tilt, which is similar to the iTM XYPad except that it uses accelerometers to read user gesturing.

Last, there's the iTM DJ, which can be used for controlling digital DJ software such as Native Instruments' Traktor.

It's not clear how much these apps will cost as yet. They've been held up from commercial release because of contract and distribution issues. However, the advantages of Multitouch technology should be revealed very soon.