Best music apps for iPhone and iPad
The rise of Apple started with the iPod. The portable music player brought music back into people's lives, but then something even more important happened: Apple launched the iPhone, the famous 3-in-1 device that combined features of an iPod, an internet communicator and a regular telephone.
The combination of a touch interface with all of your music on board changed not only the way people listen to music, but also the way people interact with music, the way people create music.
"I was very lucky to grow up in a time when music really mattered. It wasn’t just something in the background; it really mattered to a generation of kids growing up. It really changed the world"
Whether it was Apple's or Steve Jobs' (the quote above is his) personal passion for music, or whether it was the creatives that worked to make Mac and iOS devices what they are, Apple won itself a name as the company for creatives. First with iTunes and then with GarageBand, Apple provided some great tools for musicians and those who love music, but to make the most of the iPhone and iPad experience, it was developers who really gave that big push. That's why we are rounding the best music apps for iPhone and iPad: the ones for those who want to learn to play the piano or the guitar, for those who want to listen to music at home and in their car, for those who want to stream, for those who want to edit, for the djays and for the fans.
Disclaimer: This list of the best music apps for iOS devices will work great with phones like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 6s and 6 Plus, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPhone 5S and iPhone SE, as well as iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, and iPad mini.
Made by Apple: The Essentials
Of course, every talk about Apple music apps has to start with the obvious: the free and excellent GarageBand. Available for iOS and Mac, GarageBand is a great first step and a great simple tool for even more advanced musicians to create some tunes. The app is versatile, supports a wide-ranging selection of instruments, all recorded with an outstanding quality, and it's one of the reasons why Apple is the go-to platform for creatives.
A simple, but extremely cool idea brought to life, Apple Music Memo stores your musical ideas on the fly and embellishes them with a useful waveform.
Use this when you wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden spark of genius, use this at work humming a melody, or wherever you want, it's fun and excellent.
Apple Music App Replacements for Offline Playback
$1 | Download here
Ecoute is a pretty, well-designed music app that makes album art come to life and has a full Last.fm support. The Now Playing screen greets you with impactful, large album art, while the current song played is displayed in a translucent display looking native to iOS. Ecoute also has a very handy Shuffle button right at the top of every tab, so you can just start shuffling from where you are and enjoy music immediately.
$2 | Download here
Cesium supports convenient swipe gestures
$3 | Download here
Stezza is a music player made to be used in the car.
With large buttons that you can easily hit and a straightforward interface, it allows you to start playing songs and skip them for a minimum amount of time.
It also features custom color themes that make your music pop.
Free with ads, $10 a month ad-free | Download here
Spotify is the world's most popular music streaming app and is our streaming service of choice. It has a gigantic, 30 million+ song catalog, 100 million users of which 40 million on its premium tier. The nice thing is that Spotify is also available completely free to those who don't want to pay a monthly bill for music streaming: those users will have to listen to ads and can't play a particular song on mobile (just shuffle an artist or an album), plus, they cannot download songs or albums for offline listening. Spotify works fast, it's reliable and has a convenient family share plan that you can use to save a few bucks off that $10 monthly bill. And yes, it works on both Android and iPhone, as well as Windows computers.
$10 a month | Already on your device
Apple Music is known to sign exclusive deals with top talent and while its music catalog is on par with Spotify, U.S. listeners will often see Drake, Kanye or Taylor Swift dropping their first album here, months before they release it on Spotify (if they do).
$10 a month for regular quality, $20 a month for high quality | Download here
The service also promises more fair payment to artists and just recently a third of it was acquired by Sprint, so an interesting future lies ahead for it.
DJ Turn It Up: Best Apps to Mix It Up
Free (In-app purchases) | Download here
There is no shortage of apps for DJs on the iPhone, and while on Android you often see popular DJ apps crashing and not being very reliable, the situation is different on iOS. Pacemaker is our current favorite: what started as a curious DJ experience that syncs in with your Spotify collection, has now become an AI-driven smart mixing app that will help you mix (and even choose suitable transition song) for you. It also features a very convenient, well-tailored to the mobile experience interface. For $5 you can unlock a turbopack of effects including things like Whitenoise, Hi-Lo, Chop Chop, 8-Bit and Reverb.
djay 2 | djay Pro
You can speed up and slow down songs, mix them up, add effects, view a detailed waveform and mix on it.
Unfortunately in the djay 2 version it's impossible to create a long playlist of songs and you have to mix them up by the pair.
$2 | Download here
Traktor is a respected name among djays and the mobile app is also very good. It sports a familiar mixer layout, a cool waveform display, a browser that intelligently recommends tracks based on their tempo and key, as well as a BPM detector. It also sports 8 built-in DJ effects including Reverb and Delay, and you can unlock the pro-grade SuperSlicer feature for an additional $1 in-app purchase.
How To Trim A Song On Your iPhone: Basic Editors
Hokusai Audio Editor
Free, $10 for full version | Download here
If you want a basic app that allows you to trim your songs, add a fade-in or out effect and easily share the result, Hokusai Audio Editor is our current favorite. It's a free app that gets the job done without any nasty in-app ads. It features a sleek, simple and best of all useful interface with accurate pointers that allow you to properly trim a song. You can pay the $10 the company asks for some advanced effects, but we're just as happy trimming out songs with the free version of the app.
Drop That Beat: Music-making Apps
Figure by Alihoopa
Figure is the creation of one of the best regarded music technology companies Propellerhead Software. While it's not a serious music-making tool, it's an extremely fun app that is made for the realities of an iPhone and makes the best out of the screen space. Use Figure to create your own dope beat even if you have no knowledge about how this works whatsoever. The app is so intuitive it does not need much of an introduction: just play around with the controls, add drums, a bass line and lead melodies, as well as change the key, and easily share this to Facebook or YouTube. The app is a little gem, it's free and it's really addictive, be warned.
Free, $10 for pro | Download here
Music Maker Jam
Music Maker Jam gives you access to thousands of studio-quality loops, beats and melodies to start mixing your new track. You can start by selecting your style pack, picking from trap, hip hop, dubstep, rock, pop, and others, and you can also combine samples from different genres. You also get easy controls to adjust tempo and harmonies, as well as edit song parts.
$9 | Download here
$4 | Download here
Nanoloop combines sequencer, synthesizer and sampler in one package, and it's a very minimal yet beautifully done tool to create electronic music.
You lay out patterns on a compact, 4x4 grid and you can easily export WAV files to listen to and share.
The app features 8 channels, of which each can be the synth or the sampler.
$3 | Download here
Yellofier is an app that takes everyday sounds, voice or a musical instrument and uses software magic to turn this into music.
You can also use a selection of sounds and songs from electronic music artists and add custom effects. All of this comes together in a novel step sequencer where you combine sound and effects.
Learn To Sing and Learn to Play an Instrument
Simply Piano by JoyTunes
Whether you are a beginner or a pro, if piano is your passion, this app is a great tool to have in your arsenal. The app features a bunch of popular songs including pop tracks like Counting Stars, Timber, as well as classics from composers like Johann Sebastian Bach. You will get to learn basics in a step-by-step progression: you will learn to read sheet music and later upgrade your skills so that you are able to play with both hands. Cool and personalized 5-minute workouts will keep you on track to having steady progress.
A step by step guide to the piano for the very beginners under the careful supervision of 'The Piano Guy' Scott Houston.
You get to select the song that you want to learn and start by going through the left hand sequence, then the right hand, and the uniting them all together.
$5 | Download here
Originally created as a desktop music instrument, but later brilliantly ported to iOS, Sensual Sax is priced at a sweet $5 junction (not too expensive, but not cheap), and it offers some very high quality samples to show you how a sensual saxophone can sound like. If you like brass instruments, you can also check out the very well made iFretless Brass, iFretless Sax, as well as Heavy Brass by Crudebyte.
$7 | Download here
An app for the musicians and music students, Ear Trainer will help you improve your ear with something for the beginners and something for the very advanced.
It features a ton (and we mean a ton) of exercises including interval comparison and identification, chord training, scales, pitch and melody exercises.
Advanced Apps: For Music Students and Musicians
$10 | Download here
*best for iPad, Read our full Caustic 3 review here
So by now you've probably realized that Caustic 3 is a music creation platform. It lets you build your own beats, patterns, even entire songs using the variety of built-in synthesizers, samples that you have loaded, or a combination of both. Having a master's degree in music composition isn't needed in order to use the app effectively. In fact, after a little knob tweaking and experimenting with the stock instrument presets, we managed to put together some sweet tunes in a matter of minutes. Past experience with similar software or real synthesizers, however, helps a lot.
$25 | Download here
Created by keyboard guru Jordan Rudess
$20 | Download here
The iKaossilator is a novel musical instrument with a different and unique, well-tailored for touch interfaces controlling dock.
It uses an intuitive X-Y pad to provide expressive musical control: you create sound by stroking, tapping, or rubbing the screen.
DM1 – The Drum Machine
$5 | Download here