Android or iOS – Which Is Better for Musician Apps?

Android or iOS – Which Is Better for Musician Apps?Why is VoiceCouncil reviewing so many iOS apps – and not Android? Here is the answer.

We’ve had a lot of comments recently at VoiceCouncil like this: “Most of the music apps you are reviewing are on the iOS platform – but most of us use Android. Get with the program!”


It’s true: in a recent survey of VoiceCouncil readers, we discovered that 50% of you are using Android smartphones, 41% are on iOS and 6% are on Windows.

It changes with tablets: 38% are on iOS, 22% on Android (35% don’t own a tablet) and 3% on Windows.

Still, that is a lot of folks using Android devices.

There’s a reason we’ve focused the last few months on iOS (though the team is working now on Android reviews)– and we met with Product Manager Robert Rinaldi to help us explain why. Rob has been coordinating several App projects for TC-Helicon – for both iOS and Android platforms.


Rob, what is the main reason that iOS is ahead of Android right now when it comes to music apps?
Firstly: latency. That’s the word for the little delay you hear between you inputting a signal, say some music, and hearing it in real-time. iOS has better latency, that is to say less/smaller latency than Android – currently.

OK – that would be a major issue especially for performance-related apps. Any thing else?
Yes – Apple provides powerful tools within the iOS platform that make it easy for developers to build exciting and powerful audio-based apps. It’s the fact that Apple has a much stronger focus on “Audio” that allows more powerful and responsive apps to be built using iOS.

How does that affect a music app?
You want a great sound when you sing into the mic: no delays, clicks or whistles. You want to record, loop and do signal processing on your audio in a way that is seamless. iOS gives developers a full-featured audio engine so we can focus on the user interface and controls.

So, there is NO difference in quality between the platforms if an app does not require real-time music functions?
Latency is a big concern. The Android OS is used by various manufacturers, and as such the quality of the hardware inside can vary from sufficient to great. Alternatively, Apple controls both the hardware and the OS and can therefore ensure consistent quality. In fact we are developing a music warm-up app right now that doesn’t require real-time functions. Therefore, we are doing this for both iOS and Android.


Apple controls both the hardware and the OS and can therefore ensure consistent quality

What is going on, then, with audio processing in the Android platform?
Things are changing as we speak and this may not be an issue in the near future. A Windows or Android device simply doesn’t have the libraries or engines prebuilt into the platform that gives the same opportunity to developers. This, combined with the fact that Android is running on multiple hardware manufacturers devices, makes it more difficult for developers to create consistent and high functioning audio apps.

Can’t the latency issue on Android be solved with some extra programming?
Yes it can, but the problem is building a product that can grow in scale with that Operating System, essentially developing these tools yourself for the most part. If you develop something on your own, things will change in the Operating System and then your product could be useless because it is not integrated. Again, you also can’t guarantee how every Android hardware device will respond across each manufacturer and model.

But you say this is changing for Android?
Yes. The success of audio and video multimedia on iOS has signaled to the other platforms that an opportunity has been lost. Google has initiatives in place to build a better audio engine into the platform, and Samsung has even built their own to help this along on their Android phones. Windows, too, has people looking at the audio space.


Android will hopefully continue to work on their platforms – building better audio tools and capabilities

Is the future bleak for me if I don’t have iOS?
As it stands today, if you are looking to use mobile devices as a part of your performance then you will face limitations if you are not using an iOS device. However, as I mentioned, Android and Windows will hopefully continue to work on their platforms building better audio tools and capabilities, and if so what I have said above may be dated information before too long!

Finally, take us into the future. I’d like you to speculate where all of this is going.
In the years ahead, applications will be able to run across devices regardless of their form factor, for example, we won’t see “apps” that only run on your mobile device. In addition, Apps will be even more network aware, being able to utilize resources across the internet making things like more real-time collaboration an even more powerful reality.

Are you suggesting that ‘Platform Wars’ will be over?
Not exactly, there’s nothing wrong with a little competition in an open-market for customers like us. Web-based applications will be more hardware “agnostic”; they will work through the internet rather than solely requiring the platform alone to have the right programming embedded.

I guess you can’t tell us when this revolution will occur?
Well it is happening now, but if I knew exactly when this would come into play for music performance Apps, I would have been able to negotiate this interview through my agent!

Rob Rinaldi Bio

Rob Rinaldi is a Product Manager for TC-Helicon. He has worked on Voice Jam Studio and has just released on Voice Cross Trainer by Kim Chandler. App. It has just come out on iOS – with Android to follow. If you have an Android Device, you can sign up here to get news and special offers upon release.

TC-Helicon and Kim Chandler have just teamed up to bring you the most cutting edge Vocal Cross Training App available for Mobile Devices. Find out more.

  • Latency is the issue? What numerical metric delay time are we talking about when comparing IOS with Android music apps I wonder that makes it so worthy of bias for the former over the latter?
    I have to wonder, is the average singer or music app mobile phone user as technically knowledgeable or even aware of latency as an issue in the same way you appear to be?
    Come to think of it …… come we don’t daily hear Apple Inc.themselves using this “keynote” advantage of IOS as a marketing ploy to wipe Android out of and ram Iphone into the cognizance of all those other seemingly ignorant Androidees like myself who are still blindly bumbling along, not even realizing why they are quite happy with their choice of mobile phone device with which to explore the world of music and music apps?
    Having been both marketeer and practical service engineer for fifty years, I can well relate as to why an App OEM would go for what they perceive to be the most upmarket market for their offerings.
    Bottom line as with everything is that “Mac” has always been isolationist from day one…..I remember the day well……………..but that did not stop, Radio Shack Tandy, Texas Instruments, Amiga, and umpteen other early PC OEM’s from making inroads and capturing a huge share of the market that was lost to Apple with windows, thence to Windows Windows.
    As an aside, I used to be a Windows Cleaner funnily enough, about 56 years ago! …..Very good money to be had doing that then too !

    I have lived through four electronic component change eras in the past fifty years also…. Oh how I used to love to nip out to the local component shop and buy a $1 transistor perfect equivalent instead of paying through the nose for a $5 Sony or Motorola original so as to fix an ailing Audio Amp or a Colour TV! Especially when lead times on deliveries for the brand name items was sometimes months away !
    I’m talking of the days well before Software came along to make being what once was being an in-high-demand E-Tech repair technician, almost a redundant trade, of course.

    Yes Rob, tech advances and the superiority of one software platform over another is a daily ever changing thing on the see-saw of electronic gizmo life around us all.
    Anyways, thanks for your “latency input” which I have taken on board and applied some kind of latency holding time in my brain, (and whose mathematical value I would not know how to calculate anyway)…….then chosen to discard same…… while retaining my Samsung Galaxy and indulging myself in all those…. is it “plebian non-IOS apps?” which seem to do the trick just nicely for me and zillions of my fellow Androidees.

    PS……perhaps it’s just my fetish for add-in memory which has “Androidized” me and anaesthetized me to be “IOS-resistant” at the same time?

    PS I just lerve my VoiceLive Play GTX………BUT oh how I crave the next one up !