March 18, 2011

iOS Apps: ur doin it rong...

by Chris Randall

My goal today was going to be to put up a fairly thorough review of the Fairlight App for iOS devices. However, I'm a little pissed off now, and with the mood swing comes a goal change.

I purchased the app essentially the minute it went live in the app store. It was $9.99, and I didn't really read the description. I was just like "ten bucks for a Fairlight IIx. Buy now. Click." Here's what I didn't know:

The $9.99 version is, for all intents and purposes, useless. All you can do with it is browse the IIx library, play those sounds from the on-screen keyboard, and play two fairly shitty Page R demonstration songs. That's it. End of story.

Right now, you're saying "but Chris! It says MIDI is a built-in feature right there in the App description! Plus I know from Audanika's recent experiences with Soundprism that you can't sell MIDI support via an in-app purchase! So it's still useful, right?"


CoreMidi support is not available in the $9.99 version. Page R doesn't send MIDI. The voices don't respond to MIDI. The keyboard doesn't send MIDI. It is, for all intents and purposes, a fart app that plays shakahuchi flute samples instead.

Is that image big enough to read? The entries without checkmarks are the ones you get in the Pro version, for which you need to pony up another $39.00. Now, the next thing you'll say is "well, it's a total of US$48.98 for a full-featured Fairlight IIx. That's not so bad." I agree. So what the fuck is the point of the trick, then? The $9.99 one should be free, because it is useless. The "Pro" one should be $49.99. And that's that.

I'll tell you what else I don't like: the fucking gimmicks. The keyboard and disk drive sounds are irritating. The little puzzle you have to complete at the beginning about made me want to frisbee my iPad across the fucking room. When an app is more than, say, $1.99, no matter what its price point beyond that, I expect it to be professional. Not a toy. This thing is made of wood, and someday, if the In App Purchase Fairy comes and touches it with a magic wand, it'll turn in to a real boy. It gets a "DO NOT BUY" from me.

EDIT: I was able to get the CoreMidi working by killing the app and restarting it. Note that it only works on the instrument that is selected via the P3 page. In the simple version, the MIDI implementation is just the selected voice, and that's it.


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Mar.18.2011 @ 10:23 AM
I was tricked by the price as well. "Hey, they lowered the price to something sensible." Then I saw Fairlight "Pro." I had also heard rumors about the disk drive noises. I'm planning to wait on this one. I expect the $50 price won't last very long if they're smart. Although Fairlight ≠ strong business sense in my experience.

Mar.18.2011 @ 10:30 AM

Mar.18.2011 @ 11:09 AM
beauty pill
$50 for an iphone app gives me great pause.

$50 is a meal in a fine dining restaurant with a glass of wine. Double that and you got a nice date. And, in my experience, sometimes you get to roll around with a woman on the floor afterwards.

Not ever on the restaurant floor, mind you, but... y'know. Hope springs eternal.

My point is: I shan't purchase the Fairlight app just yet.

- c

Mar.18.2011 @ 11:15 AM
Chris Randall
This actually brings in to light the false (or real?) economy of iOS Apps that Apple has created. It is very difficult to assign value to this sort of thing, because all the developers haven't come to a mutual agreement on what various things are worth.

In my mind, a good app with a lot of features should be like ten bucks. If the Fairlight app was a VST/AU, I would think that a hundred bucks was fair, or even more, but for some reason the thought of spending $50 on an iOS app makes my stomach hurt.


Mar.18.2011 @ 11:19 AM
I hope you sent them an email with your feelings about it. I'm sure you aren't the only one with an experience like that.

I hate it when apps don't have some sort of free version to test out. In this day and age, that's about as silly as trying to sell your music online without ever allowing anyone the opportunity to stream/download it first to check it out and see if they want to purchase it or not.

For the record, I actually agree with Apple's stance on not allowing MIDI capability to be sold as an in app purchase. I agree that the developer should be paid for their hard work to implement the features(paid with increased sales) but I despise it when you have to pay to unlock built-in features of a device/software. When I see someone offering MIDI as an in app purchase, I get reminded of ProTools and having to pay for the upgrade bundles that "unlock" more tracks and certain features that already exist in the code. It's not exactly the same, I know, but it still irks me in the same way.

I mean, if you already took the time to code MIDI in as a new feature of your app, you should include that as a standard feature in all future sales of that software. I understand not wanting to give previous customers a free upgrade and that's fine. Just include it with all of your new sales. Increase the cost of your app if you really feel like you are taking a loss by doing so but don't charge to unlock features.

By the way, just so you don't get confused, I absolutely love all the hard working developers for all of the amazing work that they do. They deserve every dollar that they make and so much more.

Mar.18.2011 @ 11:30 AM
Chris Randall
I generally agree with you. I think in-app-purchases in general are kind of weak, especially, as you say, when the abilities are already there. Just charge what it's worth and be done with it. None of this trickery.


Mar.18.2011 @ 11:52 AM
>>If the Fairlight app was a VST/AU, I would think that a hundred bucks was fair, or even more, but for some reason the thought of spending $50 on an iOS app makes my stomach hurt.

Mar.18.2011 @ 12:53 PM
No audio export? Waste of code.

Mar.18.2011 @ 2:18 PM
Well, there's also the $20,000 AUD version.

Still looking for a compelling reason to go ios.

Mar.18.2011 @ 3:00 PM
Apple take 30% of in-app purchases or something, does this mean developers are asking for 30% more when they include this option?

I guess the app is still cheaper than a Fairlight though. There are plenty of examples where the virtual item is much closer to the cost of the real item and (most of the time) that doesn't make sense.

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