We've had technology that is able to synchronise apps before. The most notable of these was Korg's WIST which has gone now, and no longer supported by them, and now has disappeared from all but a handful of apps. It was good for its day and as far as it went, but Korg didn't develop it and it became something that ceased to be useful. I hope that we won't say the same for Ableton's Link.
It's worth pointing out that Ableton's CEO said fairly categorically that he didn't think that mobile was going to work. They've supported Ableton controller apps, but never made one, and now, they bring us Link, which, I have to say, is a very smart move indeed. Instead of having to manage your own app, and have it compete with some really good Ableton controllers out there, make something that helps everyone else and even encourages them to work with Ableton without forcing them to do it. Very clever indeed!
So what does Link do?
Put simply Link allows multiple instances of Ableton or a range of iOS apps to sync and stay in sync in terms of timing. This is done over a wireless network and not bluetooth. Here's what it looks like ...
The number of iOS apps included is relatively small right now, but you can imagine that this will grow over time. I've put a list at the end of this post so you can see who's included Link so far.
But as you can see, it can do quite a lot for you already, even if you only have one or two of these apps.
The really useful part is that Audiobus 2.3 will bring them all together too.
So where next with Link?
Well I'm not sure that it is in Ableton Live as yet, or it is only in the beta and not the production version. So that's yet to come, then there will be move apps taking it on and then I suspect people will start to ask for more features. That's when things will get interesting I think. Will Ableton continue to support it or will it go the same way as WIST?
I hope that Ableton is in this for the long game and will make a go of Link, but only time will tell, and I'll be watching!
Are there any downsides?
Whilst this all sounds great and brings more functionality to your devices it has to be remembered that if you own a single iPad this is pretty redundant and useless to you. I think it's worth stating that for a lot of people this isn't going to do anything for them as they only own the one device.
As promised, here's the list of apps currently supporting Link:
- triqtraq (Groovebox)
- BassLine (Bass Synth)
- LP-5 (loop player)
- MoDrum (awesome drum machine)
- Loopy (looper)
- Audiobus (brings all your music apps together)
- Gadget (Korg's amazing flagship music making app)
- iElectribe (for iPad)
- iElectribe (for iPhone)
- iKaossilator (iOS version of the hardware)
- Sync Control (Korg's app for syncing their hardware to iOS)
- iMPC Pro (Retronyms)
- Elastic Drums (awesome drum machine)
- Fugue Machine (next gen sequencer)
- Patterning (brilliant drum machine)
We'll see how all this works out over time. I'll be watching to see how it goes and what reactions are like too. For now, if you are able to enjoy Link, then do!