iPianoRoll iPad App Review.
Maybe you have to be a musical master to figure out this app, or maybe I've grown too accustomed to easy to use interfaces of RockBand etc. Having played the piano in my youth, I was excited to try this app to see whether it would bring back all the loving memories of playing from years gone past. Unfortunately, either my skills have very much diminished (entirely possible), or this app just isn't up to masterpiece, or even novice, status.
This app goes for the keep it simple approach, but ends up being too simple and doesn't give enough basic information to allow you to effectively use it. On opening the app you are faced with a list of musical masterpieces on the left (the "Library") and one option on the right (highlight the keys on/off). The user is left to discover that to use the app you need to select a piece from the library and then press play.
At that point you are given a new screen with a small keyboard along the bottom and what looks like an old computer data feed running into the top of the keyboard. After a little searching you can find the usual triangle "play" button and off you go. What exactly to do next is again left up to you to discover - if you've left on the option for the keys to be highlighted you can amuse yourself by trying your best to tap a key when it appears red. But after a moment you're left wondering what exactly your one finger tapping is really teaching you or what you're gaining other than a realisation that tapping a note at a time just isn't that much fun.
To add to the "fun" the computer data feed mentioned earlier appears to have no link to what is being played sometimes and there's no explanation on what it actually represents at all. Sometimes there's multiple colours used, again, without any explanation and if you randomly tap some squares in the corresponding colour then lines appear and disappear - again with no explanation.
Once you have played a lovely masterpiece you will find that you have to exit the keyboard screen, select another piece and then go back to the piece you just played in order to play it again otherwise all you get is the last note repeated when you press play. You will also note that the key highlighting only happens intermittently after the first play as well.
The only piece of user information you are given is on the main screen that says "Open any MIDI file from Safari or Mail.app or sync your files through iTunes" - sounds like information, but no attempt is made to let you know how to execute this.
If the developers truly believe in their app then I strongly suggest they spend the time to provide a short tutorial for the user, explain what all the "tools" are and ensure the app is more user friendly overall.
Developer: MICHAEL ELISEEV
Released: Mar 17, 2011
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