It's happening – Samsung is getting a feature that has been iOS exclusive for years – plug your guitar into your Galaxy and rock out!
There is no arguing that Android has made great strides these past few years, and the flagships toting the system have turned into hardware monsters of desktop-class power. Still, there are a few fronts left, where iOS beats Android, and this is usually the front of highly specialized, niche apps, which need to be developed with specific hardware in mind, in order to ensure flawless performance.
One such niche is audio processing and reproduction, more specifically – guitar signal processing – something that has reached quite the heights in development on iOS, has yet to even set foot in Android lands. Sure, there are some DJ apps that are making their way to Android these days, however, the platform is widely unpopular among developers of audio products due to the fact that Android has been infested with a lot of audio latency issues in the past (though, Google says Jelly Bean added ways for developers to fix those) and the fact that the OS spans across so many different hardware configurations that it's virtually impossible to guarantee flawless (or any type of) performance, unless the developer partners up with one specific manufacturer and only builds a program for a specific set of phones.
So, which Android handset manufacturer is better to team up with, if not Samsung? The South Korea-based ODM definitely builds the flagships that can deliver the heavy hardware punch, needed to run such a processing-heavy app, and it has its own Galaxy Store, ensuring the app would be hosted in its own ecosystem. So, IK Multimedia – the company who was first to bring guitar signal processing to iPhone – seems to have closed a deal with Sammy to do exactly that – be the pioneer to bring portable solutions for guitarists to Android.
Samsung has teased this for quite a while, before IK Multimedia finally spilled the beans. The first time we noticed something might be going on was when we watched Sammy's live Unpacked 2.0 event, which had a live band playing, and each instrument was connected to a Galaxy Note 3, instead of an amp, for example. Then, when Samsung announced the Galaxy Gifts, which each new Note 4 owner would receive, we noticed an AmpliTube LE app in the list – something that hadn't been seen on an Android device before. So it was obviously only a matter of time.
Well, IK finally announced it officially – the AmpliTube for Android is available through the Samsung Apps store and can be had for $19. There are also Free and LE versions – the latter is a gift version for Note 4 / Note Edge owners. The app is currently only available for these two tablets, though, IK says it will soon come to the Note 3 and Galaxy S5.
Guitar enthusiasts will also need a special piece of hardware – an audio interface – in order to be able to plug their guitars into the handset – of course, IK offers these also. There is a choice of three different ones – the $39.99 iRig interface, $69.99 iRig Stomp, and the $99.99 iRig HD-A (as opposed to the iRig HD, which is iOS-only – shop with care). If one can shell out the $100 for the third option – it's the best one, as it uses a digital connection in order to get the guitar's signal into the phone, where the other two use analog, introducing noise and signal-loss in the process. Tip: if you are unsure about this tech, but wish to try it out for cheap – there are plenty of iRig interfaces flowing around the second-hand market, as ever since manufacturers switched to digital interfaces, users have been looking to upgrade.