Is it Worth Buying an iPad Just to Use it as a Max/MSP Controller?

    Aug 03 2010 | 4:18 pm
    In relation to a discussion that emerged out of this thread...
    ...I've tried to put down all my thoughts on the whole iPad-as-Max/MSP-controller issue in this blog post (the post doesn't explicitly mention Max but it's implied):
    I'd be extremely interested in hearing more forum members' thoughts on the issue, either via this thread or my comments box.

    • Aug 03 2010 | 4:43 pm
      I would say no... later this year they will be releasing some comparable Windows based tablets. You will be able to run Max on them, and use it to control Max (via OSC) on your main computer.
      As far as I am concerned, if the tablet can not run Max, it is not worth investing in.
    • Aug 03 2010 | 5:06 pm
      Well, that takes us back to the topic of the previous thread I linked to (Max 5 for the iPad). Here I'm more interested in the iPad as a cheaper alternative to the JazzMutant Lemur (which I've always thought of as the perfect controller for Max/MSP because it's fully customizable).
    • Aug 03 2010 | 5:20 pm
      That is my point, if you wait a little bit, you will have the best of both worlds.
    • Aug 03 2010 | 5:51 pm
      Ah, now I see: the added value aspect. In the blog post, I basically conclude that it's a waiting game at this stage ("waiting for the + version of TouchOSC, waiting for the price of iPads to drop and waiting for Apple to get over its idiotic obsession with making everything wireless") but I didn't consider that aspect of it.
      The wireless aspect is the real sticking point for me. I'm still not clear on whether it's really possible to create a computer-to-computer network between a Mac and an iPad. Has anyone on the forum actually used TouchOSC with Max/MSP in this way?
    • Aug 03 2010 | 6:12 pm
      I've mad a computer-to-computer network between my itouch and mac easily enough so I'd assume it's just as simple with an iPad given that they use the same os.
      EDIT: that's actually the only way I ever use TouchOSC with MaxMSP for a reliable and direct connection.
    • Aug 03 2010 | 6:27 pm
      Okay, so I assume that is possible. I'd still be interested in hearing from anyone who's actually done this with an iPad, though. Also, anyone got any ideas for how TouchOSC/Max communication might be achieved over USB?
    • Aug 03 2010 | 7:27 pm
      Another option to try would be a USB/Ethernet (Dlink DUB-E100) converter from your tablet device to the ethernet jack on your computer.
    • Aug 03 2010 | 7:43 pm
      Ah, now that's interesting. I'm not clear on whether it would work with the iPad because I don't exactly know what the port at the iPad end is. I believe there's a USB connector for powering the iPad up, synchronizing iTunes etc. but I'm not sure it uses a standard USB port at the iPad end.
    • Aug 03 2010 | 8:09 pm
      You need the iPad USB camera connector kit. It allows you to plug in USB devices. I know it works with some devices, you would have to try it to see if it works.
    • Aug 03 2010 | 8:11 pm
      I've used my iPad as a controller for Max successfully, in performance, using TouchOSC, via a computer to computer network.
      The iPad will pretty much replace my Lemur, which I bought in 2007.
    • Aug 03 2010 | 9:31 pm
      Again, that's really interesting. You're the first person I've heard suggest that an iPad might actually be preferable to a Lemur. Please, tell us more.
    • Aug 04 2010 | 2:08 am
      Well, it's lot cheaper, for one. It's also a lot smaller, more compact, and lighter to carry to the gig. The software for TouchOSC isn't as sophisticated as that for the Lemur, but it is remarkable given the price. There is some latency with the wireless connection, which I only noticed during the performance when the performer next to me was using the same setup (Macbook + iPad) On a different wireless channel. Lastly, the iPad is a general purpose tool - I'm writing this on one...
    • Aug 04 2010 | 7:15 am
      my 2cents
      I don't own an iPad...or an iPhone...or an mp3 player....(or a Lemur), and probably never will. I use a Vista laptop, and I like to connect anything I want to it, and send that data anywhere I like. For mobile connectivity and portability I would spend considerably less on a Windows tablet, and probably have more options, regardless of my communication protocol or DAW preferences. As a DMI/sound designer I've always lusted after a Mac ("they just work"), but I would never consider an this context, it's just a toy.
    • Aug 04 2010 | 11:02 am
      Maybe interesting:
      I use to use iPhone with Max:
      keep an eye on this, maybe they will come with a iPad app.
    • Aug 05 2010 | 5:35 pm
      "For mobile connectivity and portability I would spend considerably less on a Windows tablet, and probably have more options, regardless of my communication protocol or DAW preferences."
      I've been hearing a bit about other "tablet" devices coming in the wake of the iPad. It sounds like some of these might offer a great deal more flexibility that the iPad and they'll presumably be a lot cheaper too. So, maybe I should add these to my "waiting for..." list. One question, though: are these going to be Mac compatible or strictly PC? Will they miss certain Mac-specific functionality (e.g. computer-to-computer networking)? The fact that the iPad is designed primarily to talk to Macs is a big advantage for me.
      "As a DMI/sound designer I've always lusted after a Mac ("they just work"), but I would never consider an this context, it's just a toy."
      I agree that the iPad is essentially a crap device but the thing is, any technology is crap until you find something really useful you can do with it. If the iPad really can substitute for (or replace!) a Lemur, then it's far from being just a toy.
    • Aug 05 2010 | 6:30 pm
      No no no All technology is good; it is how it is APPLIED that determines whether or not it is immersive, portable and sustainable. As I don't use consumer touch interfaces in my DMIs I feel poorly informed to comment confidently, but I do get the impression that the iPad is a rush job: no new technology, no new paradigms. Just more (Apple approved) apps to purchase. Of course, if you ARE a Mac user, then the networking facility is, as you and others note, a big plus; and it is way cheaper than a Lemur. For the moment, i'll just build my own DMI touchpad. Interesting thread. Brendan
    • Aug 05 2010 | 6:37 pm
      You haven't played with the iPad, yet you agree it's "essentially a crap device".
      As the owner of an iPad I find that statement absolutely ridiculous. One of the strange things to come out of the iPad/Apple vs. the rest of the world debate, as pioneered by for instance Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing, is the notion that if a device doesn't allow you to do EVERYTHING, it is by definition more or less useless. I couldn't disagree more with this statement.
      iPad plus TouchOSC is a wonderful combination, and now with new software such as Griid (Ableton controller released today for iPad) and TouchAble (Ableton controller to soon be released for iPad) the possibilities are expanding as we speak. No, not everything will be possible with the ipad, but I don't remember seeing too many people dismissing the Lemur in principle because you can't do everything with it - and this is a device that costs at least three times that of an iPad.
    • Aug 05 2010 | 7:27 pm
      I doubt that most of the contributors here want 'a technology' to do 'everything'; but Apple have cottoned on the fact that there is a demographic who WANT a tool that does everything; fuelled in part by their marketing strategy (and Western consumers' obsession with 'self'), and the iPad is marketed as such. No tool can meet the needs of every consumer. Again, technology is NOT inherently weak or strong. It is how it is applied. I have no doubt that, given the proprietary data protocol and suitable apps and DAW, I would have a ball with the iPad. I just don't buy it (sic).
    • Aug 05 2010 | 7:28 pm
      Sorry, the "crap" comment was a knee-jerk thing. I have a very sceptical attitude to all new digital technologies and tend to instinctively assume that they are surplus to requirement and that each new generation will be shoddier than the previous one. But I do hold out hope that the iPad - which seems, on the face of it, to be spectacularly pointless - could become a "template" upon which creative developers could impose all sorts of useful and inspiring things. As a Max user, the MIDI/OSC controller aspect is the one that interests me immediately but who knows what people might come up with?
      Oh and I have played with a friend's iPad. It did seem kinda boring on the face of it but...
    • Aug 06 2010 | 8:55 am
      By all means, connect_icut - the iPad isn't for everyone. I don't have a problem with that. I just get a bit tired about the pretension that open source is the be all and end all of everything. I have been through enough open source projects to know that they can(!) be a true pain in the, eh, behind, and that their potential freedom comes with several strings attached - either in terms of for example time, or in terms of knowledge required.
      Oh, and the way MaxMSP handles polyphony could be enough to drive anyone mad. If we're to discuss "open" and "closed", I mean. ;)
    • Aug 06 2010 | 4:16 pm
      I have a MacBook Pro running MAX/MSP/Jitter, and an iPad. I have a performance coming up in NY next month, and wanted a controller I could take with me. I was looking at various MIDI hardware matrix controllers, but then checked out the iPad apps and found two: iXY and MxNM LE. These worked with a free MIDI wifi server that loads on the Mac. I loaded the two apps (will decide on one of them soon) onto the iPad, and the server onto the MacBook, and they worked instantly. So for me (I had the iPad anyway), this was a great solution, and saved me money over buying a hardware controller. -Robert
    • Aug 07 2010 | 12:44 am
      Well, for me, the temptation to just go for it gets greater and greater. But the main thing I'm waiting for is the price drop. Anyone got any insight into when this might happen?
    • Aug 07 2010 | 5:05 am
      When I first saw the iPad presentation of Jobs, it created an instant wonnahave reaction. But during the time it needed to be released it dropped a lot for the simple reason, that Apple puts tons of completely unnecessary and extremely annoying restrictions on it, as with the iPods, only to get more consumers hit their shops. The complete control of every aspect of software creation is like selling your soul to the devil... There are alternatives, though not as light/smart, but in the same price range. If I had 500 bucks, I'd more likely buy a convertible netbook. They do run Windows (another devil...;-). But I could run simple Max patches natively on them, or they can run Pd and Linux, both mainly to create user interfaces. But what I never found out, is if their multitouch screens are accessible from Max or Pd in the same way as TouchOSC is working already. I guess that the real iPad competition will be more likely an Android tablet than a Windows one... If you want an instant alternative for the Lemur, I guess there is no way around an iPad, but in the future, I bet there will be more attractive alternatives...
    • Aug 07 2010 | 6:33 pm
      Just out of curiosity: Since Android is allegedly completely free of Apples "unnecessary" restrictions, could someone please list some of the noteworthy music-related apps that are now available for the Android platform?
      That couldn't have been made for the iPad/iPhone?
    • Aug 09 2010 | 10:43 pm
      Hmmm... If we're getting into the nitty gritty of the pros and cons various devices and platforms... Well, it kind of makes me think: just choose a platform and deal with it. Every device and platform will have its pros and cons but most, if not all, of the problems I've been able to identify with the iPad seem to have work-arounds. The only remaining stumbling block for me right now is the price, which I imagine will fall sharply before too too long.
    • Aug 10 2010 | 7:59 am
      I wouldn't keep my hopes up for a price drop, particularly not a sharp one.
      The demand for the iPad is way higher than what Apple can deliver (it hasn't even been launched in several countries, including the Nordic ones where i reside), and it wouldn't make any sense for Apple to drop the price now.
      Perhaps in six months time when demand starts falling (or does it?).
    • Aug 10 2010 | 2:34 pm
      check also you can make better interfaces to control your max patch
      have a mac with maxmsp and an ipad with touchosc too works great doing the connection by wifi on any local network. was very simple to setup as i expected from apple
      if you can handle all the windows trouble in your setup maybe wait for cheaper ones, for me M$ is not an option.
    • Aug 10 2010 | 6:59 pm
      Isn't it Apple's policy to release a product at a massively inflated price, knowing that early adopters and Mac addicts will buy it anyway, then slash the price a few months later, for the mass market, even if sales haven't started to flag?
    • Aug 10 2010 | 8:25 pm
      Depends on what you mean by "inflated" prices. You would need something to compare it to, and there aren't a lot of similar tablets around.
      The iPhone costs about the same as other advanced smart phones (Desire, Galaxy S etc.).
      Macs, though, definitely seem higher priced than a similar spec'd PC ...
    • Aug 10 2010 | 9:03 pm
      But when the iPhone first came out, wasn't it about twice the price it is now?
    • Aug 16 2010 | 5:44 pm
      Looks like this discussion will be continuing here:
      Is there any way for a mod to merge all these iPad-related threads?
    • Aug 16 2010 | 6:37 pm
      "Is there any way for a mod to merge all these iPad-related threads?" No(thank god, what a waste of time that would be, no offense, though, just my personal opinion...)
      "Is it Worth Buying an iPad Just to Use it as a Max/MSP Controller?" Let's step outside the Max/Cycling74 bubble, and consider the question in and of itself: Apple made the iPad as an affordable option for a computer to cater to the needs of those people around the world who either can't afford a computer or only use computers for more web-based/entertainment/data-entry-and-archive centered applications(paying too much for so little). Like a middle-road between a small blackberry/iphone-like personal data assistant and an actual full-featured computer the ipad can help a wider user-base.
      The 'worth' of this device is always relative: first off(because making sure of your own survival and that of your loved ones is the most important), relative to how much money you have to burn. Do you make profit from your own job/career which amounts to more than the price of an ipod each month? then it's probably not too hard to buy and therefore worth it. second, relative to how much you'll use it: even if you only use it for music, will you be using it everyday? or do you only make music once a month? if everyday, it doesn't matter that you won't use the ipad much for its other intended uses, you'll still be putting it to good use: very much worth it. third, do you believe that the ipad is the end-all, be-all of touch-sensitive interfaces? then yes, very much worth it even while many others may believe that soon after the ipad, there will be more affordable touch-sensitive devices made as imitations which might even be better(the same way in which android is fast growing into the preferred smart-phone because iphone app-store is too restrictive and therefore makes everyone feel as though apple might be acting too much like microsoft). apple will also probably touch-sensitize their laptop screens(because that makes the most sense), at which point owning an ipad above and beyond a laptop will look like a frivolous expenditure(to some extent, it already seems that way... people who already own computers buy ipads mainly because they have the money to burn, not because it's necessary). finally, eventually the ipad OS will be more like a regular computer OS and then(if you've bought an ipad early on) you will have to pay for the upgrade which will probably still not be fully functional on an old ipad because the hardware requirements of that newer ipados will also change.
      the question could be rephrased: "is it worth it to grow addicted to frivolous-non-DIY technology made by companies who cater only to that addiction even while you might find better use for it?" with raw, cold, capitalism, the answer is pretty simple: "you're either the kind of person who buys technology, or you're the kind of person who is sold by it: either way, it's always 'worth it' until the newer thing comes along at which point you'll feel as stupid as you should have all along, but since businesses like Apple make their living off of that stupidity, overall, you can also interpret it as feeling like an 'all-too-generous capitalist'" (
      basically, it doesn't matter, we are all people being turned into mere tools by the tools we grow addicted to. instead of figuring out worth of something to yourself, find something you normally think of as worthless and figure out how to make it worthwhile: this is the quintessential difference behind being a mere 'user' and being a true 'master' of technology(keep in mind, though, being a 'master' of technology simply means you've finally gained control of your own materialism... it doesn't necessarily mean that you're enlightened enough to live without it).