Version Reviewed: 1.3
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
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Let's get this out in the open to begin with; I'm not a DJ. I don't pretend to be. I'm also not a musician. All of that said, however, I had one heck of a time with Propellerhead's Figure app. It's designed for someone like me - a person who loves to play with sound without it getting all technical and impossible to understand. And yet, I can see where Figure might also prove useful to a veteran performer or DJ. It's just that versatile.
At the heart of Figure is an interface that is at once simple and beguiling. A quick tap is all that's needed to switch between drum, bass and lead tracks across the top of the screen, while at the bottom, edits can be made to rhythm patterns, the key of the song itself and the overall sound mix, not to mention various tweaks that can be made to each of the primary sounds. It took a little bit of playing around with Figure to understand exactly what each menu system allowed and contributed to the overall loop I was creating, but the joy of the app is that it encourages play. Once completed (in as much as any piece is ever fully completed in Figure), sharing is relatively simple, as loops can be sent to iTunes (during syncing), or copied from one app to another using Audiocopy. I'd like to see the sharing options become a bit more robust (Facebook, anyone?), but at least there's a straightforward way of transferring completed pieces off of the iPhone or iPad.
It literally takes only a few minutes to generate something that, while maybe not a song exactly, sounds pretty darned impressive. To top it off, the experience itself is enjoyable, as the focus is on discovery more than creating the perfect loop or beat. And, sorry to use a cliche, but the phrase "even a child can do it" definitely applies to Figure, as my 11-week-old was immediately mesmerized by it and enjoyed creating the most random, yet somehow beautiful, sound combinations.
Certainly there are those naysayers out there who look at an app like this as a toy, and to that I say, "What's wrong with that?" Yes, Figure is a simple beat-creation toy, but I doubt you'll find another toy with as much depth as this Propellerhead creation.