Apple may be preparing to beef up the virtual features in its GarageBand music creation apps for iOS and macOS. The tech giant has applied for a patent (number 20190129611) dubbed “enhanced virtual instrument techniques.”
In the patent filing, Apple notes that virtual musical instruments, such as musical instrument digital interface (MIDI)-based or software-based keyboards, string instruments, and the like, typically have user interfaces that attempt to closely resemble the actual instrument. When a user selects an element of the user interface, the virtual musical instrument attempts to play a note.
Apple says that while these instruments are enjoyable to amateur and experienced musicians alike, stylistic features and/or playing techniques may be difficult or impossible for a device to emulate with conventional user interfaces. This can be problematic for users who would like to include such stylistic features and/or techniques as they play. Apple wants to change this.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Embodiments of the present disclosure can provide systems, methods, and computer-readable medium for implementing user interfaces for interacting with a virtual instrument. For example, a user interface for a virtual instrument may be presented on a display of a device. The user interface may have any suitable number of strings (or keys) associated with a physical instrument.
“Each string/key may correspond to an associated audio file. Touch input may be received at the user interface. In some embodiments, the touch input may include a location corresponding to a particular string. The associated audio file may be selected based on the location. The associated audio file may be presented (e.g., via a speaker of the device) at a volume that corresponds with the pressure at which the touch input was provided.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.