CompetitiveAnalysis-CharlieHsu

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Contents

Restatement of the group's idea

My group's proposal is an application that assists dance groups with their use of music, by offering tools to mark, splice, analyze tempo of, and compile playlists of music.

Here is a link to my group's Group Brainstorm page: http://vis.berkeley.edu/courses/cs160-sp10/wiki/index.php/GroupBrainstorm-Group:iGroup

List of related applications

  1. Poddio/Poddio-Lite: Review from Mashable with Video
  2. iSaidWhat: AppScrout Synopsis Official Synopsis
  3. FourTrack: Official Synopsis
  4. GigBaby: Apptism Review
  5. Beatmaker: Preview from App Store
  6. iSample 2: Examiner Review and Video
  7. StudioApp: Preview from App Store
  8. RTA: Apptism Summary Short About.com blurb
  9. Psyclops: Intro Video from Official Site , Story from 3rd Party
  10. Latin Dance Factory: AppStore Preview
  11. PRS Jam Amp: Official Synopsis

Analysis

Poddio/Poddio-Lite

Poddio is a digital audio workstation (DAW) that allows users to record and edit audio within their iPhone.

The application seems to be targeted at advanced musicians, sound engineers, and people who use the iPhone as a recording microphone. Our target user group, dance groups, might find the audio editing capabilities of this application useful, though the more general (and technical) audience this application serves might hinder use by dance groups.

Poddio offers advanced audio editing features similar to those found on desktop DAWs. However, from a functionality and usability standpoint, I feel that many of the advanced features are not necessary for the simple audio editing we want to offer dance groups. Poddio offers marking, splitting, and zooming into audio, which we want, but dance groups likely won't need much more than that. By reducing the number of features, we can also make the interface more accessible to casual audio editors (dance groups), instead of relying on symbols familiar to audio editing experts (Poddio's audience).

iSaidWhat

iSaidWhat is an iPhone application that allows users to record and edit audio.

iSaidWhat is targeted at users interested in voice recording, specifically for the purpose of splicing recorded voice soundbytes together to prank users' friends. The simple audio features of cutting, marking, and arranging are exactly what we envisioned for our dance group application, but the different target groups cause iSaidWhat to include some extra sharing features (posting clips to Facebook/Twitter) that may not be useful for dance groups.

iSaidWhat's target group also influences the design decision for iSaidWhat to only allow editing of clips explicitly recorded by the iPhone. Recording for iSaidWhat is directly targeted at voice, with input boost and a script view for users to read from. Dance groups may not find this useful, and would probably much rather have the ability to import music from a desktop directly, rather than recording it.

FourTrack

FourTrack is an audio recording application that offers multitrack, fader, and seeking support for musicians.

FourTrack's target user group is musicians looking to record songs on their iPhones. The functionality is directly addressed towards this target group: multitrack recording allows an artist to mix together lots of instruments and vocals, and the fader allows the artist to adjust audio levels for each track. FourTrack even includes a metronome to aid the musician(s).

FourTrack's usability is solid for musicians; the features are all relevant and useful for musicians looking to record on the go. For dancers however, the recording-centric goals of this application might not be as useful, but we could use the idea of a metronome to aid our application.

GigBaby

GigBaby is an application that assists musicians with a metronome, 4-track recorder, drum machine, and setlist manager.

The target user group for this application seems to be musicians and bands. The application gives users the features above, allowing musicians to combine individually recorded tracks, place them into a setlist, and use the drum machine/metronome to assist in developing music. Dance groups are certainly different from musicians in their needs, and might not require the 4-track feature.

Our application hopes to improve on certain aspects of functionality and usability from this application. We hope to add tempo analysis of songs, rather than just a metronome where the user needs to input a tempo. We also hope to implement zooming into audio tracks (not implemented in GigBaby) for easier editing.

Beatmaker

Beatmaker is another DAW application for the iPhone. It offers a large sample library and the ability to import songs from the computer. Audio editing features are diverse, ranging from filters to slicing to export to velocity, pitch, and pan spreading.

Beatmaker is targeted towards expert audio editors and DJs. In comparison to the audio editing features a dance group might use, Beatmaker's focus on expert audio editors make many of its features useless to dance groups (velocity and pitch spreading, audio filters).

We hope our proposed idea will do a better job of making an interface that is accessible to users not experienced with audio editing tools. Many symbols, notations, and terminology used in Beatmaker are likely to be unfamiliar to non-experts.

iSample 2

iSample 2 is a sample based music production application for the iPhone. It has a rich feature set, including WiFi import of samples, tempo management, zoom-pinch trimming and scrolling, mixing, reverb, audio recording, and much more.

The target user group seems to be DJs and people who enjoy toying with music. The audio editing capabilities offered seem to show that iSample 2 is trying to emulate desktop DAWs, so like many of the other audio editing applications on the iPhone, the audio editing isn't tailored to fit a specific group's sound needs. The application seems to be even more tuned to sampling DJs; the 6 sample pads only carry samples up to 30 seconds in length.

We hope to improve on our application by offering a simpler interface for casual audio editing with limited but salient features, and of course allow support for songs over 30 seconds!

StudioApp

StudioApp is a mobile DAW application for the iPhone. It offers support for importing/exporting music via Wifi, recording up to 4 tracks, seeking, and faders.

The application is targeted at lyricists looking to quickly record vocals over audio, and music producers. However, the functionality and usability are seriously flawed. Cutting a section of a track is impossible, and the user essentially can only record what he/she hears. Users essentially have to edit audio live; playing back tracks and adjusting faders while recording to a final track.

These features may be intuitive ("just turn the volumes up and down on the tracks!") to the casual audio editor who wants to simply mash songs together, but for dance groups, marking and splicing is the main goal. StudioApp seemed to lack a targeted user group and oversimplified its application; hopefully our targeted user group will allow us to make better design decisions.

RTA

RTA is a Real Time Analyzer (RTA) application for the iPhone, used to analyze audio frequencies in real time for the iPhone.

RTA's target user group is live sound engineers and music mixers. Real time frequency analysis can come in handy for audio mastering and live show sound engineering. RTA offers a well-designed touch UI for the task; pinch-zooming is supported for the graph. Users can also save and recall audio graphs, as well as calibrate for exact frequency measurements.

RTA is a good application for its target user group. Every feature addresses a need that a live sound engineer might have, while keeping the interface relatively simple because of the highly targeted user group it has. We hope to keep our audio editing interface the same way; useful for dance groups, and not concerned about extra features for other groups.

Psyclops

Psyclops lets the user create a custom music video by guiding the user through a process where he/she picks an animated dancer avatar, mixes together music from a stock selection of instruments, picks animated motions for the dancer, and compiles them into a video.

The application seems to be targeted as general entertainment for artistically/musically inclined users. Created music videos can easily be sent to friends and family via the application, further suggesting a target user group of entertainment amongst a group of users. The application, though it involves dancing and music, does not correlate with dancers or dance groups like our application aims to.

The functionality of this application is limited to the strict music video creation process detailed above. Music samples can only be taken from the supplied library; our application hopes to be able to import songs from an user's PC via WiFi. Because of the strict limitation, the application cannot be used for general audio marking, splitting, or editing at all; it limits the user to simply remixing content already provided by the application, which hinders usability from a dance group perspective.

Latin Dance Factory

Latin Dance Factory is a compilation of instructional videos and directions for salsa dancing.

The target user group is beginning salsa dancers looking to learn basic moves/routines. The application contains 21 "scenes", which include some introductory text and an instructional video. The material's utility is left for the user to judge, but the interface is clunky and gives little affordance to scrolling through the scenes.

This application, though targeted towards dancers (instead of audio editors like the other applications), revealed little about the ways we can make an application targeted at dance groups better.

PRS Jam Amp

PRS Jam Amp is a mobile application for guitarists that comprises a tuner, portable amplifier, and audio playback tools. Users can tune their guitars, connect a separately made cable from their guitar to their iPhone+headphones for the iPhone to function as an amplifier, or loop over/slow down certain parts of a song they'd like to practice.

The target user group is clearly guitarists, and the functionality and usability is excellent. Help windows are transparent and lay themselves over the interface, and the audio marking feature makes good use of multitouch. Though their target user group is different from ours, we can take many of the elegantly designed elements of the audio marking interface for our application. We can also think of other extra features like "tuners for guitarists" that dancers might need: features outside the main functionality of audio splitting and marking.

Summary

It seems like there are many mobile digital audio workstation (DAW) applications already on the market for the iPhone. These applications tend to target already experienced audio editors/DJs, who are looking for a mobile platform to do their work. Dancers and dance groups have very few mobile applications targeted at them, and the one I was able to find was simply a compilation of instructional text and video (poorly designed as well).

An audio editing application, designed for dance groups with little to no audio editing experience, has not been developed, and could be a significantly useful application. The DAW applications all use interfaces similar to, or compressed from desktop DAWs, and may be intimidating for first-time audio editors. The PRS Jam Amp was an example of how effective this idea of simplifying the audio editing interface for a target group of users could be. PRS Jam Amp stripped down audio editing to the bare essentials a guitarist might need for practice (replaying certain parts of a song, perhaps slowed down), and added some extra features useful to guitarists (a tuner, amplifier support).

Our goal then will not be to compete with the mobile DAW market. Our idea of providing relevant and easy-to-use audio editing for dance groups, supplemented by some extra features useful to the groups, is unique. Many developers looking to create audio editors simply try to emulate desktop DAWs; left behind are groups that might want to edit sound for extremely specific purposes, like guitarists and dance groups. We hope to address dance groups as one of these target user groups that may find mobile audio editing to be a hidden blessing.



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