At last month’s Musikmesse, there was good news and not so good news from Apple.
The good news is that this year saw Apple’s most eye-catching Messe booth, yet. Following Apple’s signature black/silver/white design, the booth was bigger than in previous years, featured a larger demo theater, and also boasted a more prominent location on the show floor. A welcome sign that Apple is serious about this industry.
The not so good news: Apple made no announcements whatsoever.
When No News Isn’t Good News
In 2006, some of Apple’s key competitors released major revisions of their music software, e.g., MOTU Digital Performer 5, Steinberg Cubase 4, or Ableton Live 6. The most recent major update of Apple’s flagship music production suite, Logic Pro 7, however, shipped way back in October 2004. Consequently, Logic users had been expecting some news about Logic 8, which is rumored to feature a completely overhauled user interface and possibly even re-branding, for last January’s NAMM show. When that didn’t come about, Musikmesse was the next “natural fit” for scheduling an announcement, but no such luck.
Logic is by far the “oldest” product in Apple’s Pro Software line-up, and even though, in its current state, it still makes for a decent package with one-of-kind tools like the Sculpture software synth and Space Designer convolution reverb, users are anxious to find out what direction Apple will take with the sequencer package, and why it is taking them so long to kick out a new version — especially after the huge Final Cut Studio update.
One possible reason we haven’t seen Logic 8, yet, may very well be that the software will rely on technology only available in the upcoming Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. E.g., if the rumors about a revised UI are true, that UI could make use of Core Animation. It would be a very bad idea, however, if Logic 8 was linked to non-trivial changes to Core Audio or Apple’s proprietary Audio Units plugin format.
No More Porting Required, Please
Literally all makers of music software for the Mac have invested a serious amount of time and effort into porting their highly optimized code to Universal Binaries — sometimes from legacy Carbon code originally developed for OS 9 — to make it run natively on Intel Macs. In fact, so many companies have only now presented, or announced, MacIntel-savvy versions of their software that 2007 can rightfully be considered the Year of Universal Binaries for audio and music software.
If considerable effort was required yet again to keep this kind of software compatible with Logic 8 and/or OS X 10.5, Apple would do developers a big disservice.
(For some positive news from this year’s Musikmesse, see the Messe Report at the O’Reilly Digital Media Center.)