What Are Users Expecting From Music Apps?

What Are Users Expecting From Your Apps?

Did you ever download a new music app and think hey, why doesn't it have this very obvious missing feature?

Well in this blog post we hope to highlight a few make or break features that most app users are expecting so developers can get a better understanding of what users want.

We've separated the list into Must Have's and Nice To Have's so if you have a favorite music app that doesn't yet support one or more of these features then make sure to send the developer a link to this page.

Must Have Features

  • AUv3 Support was first released by Apple back in 2015 but has since become an absolute requirement for all pro music production apps so that users can use these instrument and fx apps inside their favorite iOS DAWs like Cubasis and GarageBand. Learn More →

  • Multi DAW Optimization or in other words making sure your app works as solid as possible in as many iOS DAWs as you can especially the major ones including: GarageBand, Cubasis, Beatmaker 3, NanoStudio 2, Zenbeats and Auria Pro.

  • Audiobus / AUM Support is super important because this is how music apps can connect with one another allowing you to combine fx apps with instrument apps or even control those instrument apps with midi fx apps and much, much more. Learn More →

  • Drag & Drop Support is becoming increasingly important as the iPad gets used more and more for professional music production purposes. Users will want workflows similar to what they're used to on the desktop. For example a user should be able to drag & drop audio and/or MIDI files into your app from the files app or drag & drop audio and/or MIDI directly from your app to another app. As of iOS16 it's now possible to have a file browser within your app and this feature is also becoming highly requested after seeing it implemented in apps such as Koala and Sitala.

  • A Decent Preset Browser should be a standard in any any instrument or fx app and the user should be able to favorite presets and import/export their favorite presets as well. This allows sample pack creators like Mobile Music Pro to create and resell presets as well as the ability to share presets online for free via sites like PatchStorage among others.

  • Audio / MIDI Auditioning seems like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how many high profile apps lack the ability to preview both audio and MIDI files within the file browsing portion of their app. Immediate feedback is vital to a fun and efficient workflow.

  • Mouse & KB Support might not seem so important on a touch first device but as people start to do more multitasking and working in full DAWs the precise nature of a mouse can really speed up a power user's workflow. Virtual keyboards are great as well but a physical keyboard is usually ideal for people wanting to use keyboard shortcuts or type at their most productive speeds.

Additional Must Haves

These requests came directly from the Youtube Comments and Audiobus Forum and will be featured in a part 2 video.

  • AU State Saving goes hand in hand with AUv3 support but should also be explicitly mentioned here. The ability for a host to save your app's state so that when you reload that host's project the app is using the same settings as it was when you closed that project. Learn More →

  • Multi-Core Support is now more important than ever due to Apple's inclusion of M-Series chips in iPads. These CPUs have a ton of cores to work with and to date not many apps have begun taking advantage of this massive performance increasing feature. Learn More →

  • Ableton Link allows users to sync multiple music apps together within a single device or wirelessly across multiple devices. You can easily keep everyone in time whether you're using an iOS device, desktop or an MPC making it a breeze to create epic jam sessions. Learn More →

  • MIDI In / Out makes it easy for users to both connect their own MIDI devices and route the MIDI out to different tracks within a single app or even other apps entirely. This is especially useful for drum apps so users can process each drum part independently. Learn More →

  • MIDI CC Support or MIDI Control Change is a must to allow users to input and record CC Messages coming mainly from pitch-bending and modulation wheels. This allows for a ton more expressiveness in any instrument or synth app.

  • MIDI Learn allows a user to map various app functions directly to a MIDI controller. This makes it easy to incorporate physical buttons and knobs into your workflow. With more and more light-weight midi controllers becoming available specifically targeting mobile setups this feature is not just for traditional in-studio setups anymore.

Nice To Have Features

  • Universal Support is always a fantastic feature to have so that you can use an app properly across multiple devices including your iPhone, iPad and MacOS desktop but we understand it's difficult creating proper UI scaling so that an app looks and feels great in every screen size.

  • Audio Visualization can really be useful especially for mixing plugins such as EQs and Compressors but it can also be really cool to have in other FX and instrument apps to dial in precise parameters and see your audio from different perspectives.

  • Dark Mode is almost a necessity for producers working long hours or late nights. It gets really straining on the eyes when staring at small text and numbers for many hours at a time so if the interface isn't already using a dark color scheme then it would be great to be able to enable some kind of dark mode that provides a darker background.

  • Randomization Buttons can really help spice up an app and provide the user with endless inspiration by producing sounds they would never think of otherwise so whether the button just selects a random preset or actually randomizes specific parameters within the app this feature is always greatly appreciated.

  • In-App Manual is probably the most underrated feature but never the less it's still appreciated by a great many of us who wish to learn as much as we can about an app to get the most creative use out of it as possible.

  • A Decent Preset Library  can be the difference between your app getting deleted after just a few minutes of use or not. It's the music app developer's job to impress and delight the user and an extensive preset library is a great way to both do that and highlight what makes the app unique.


The music app space has come along way in the past few years. From Audiobus to IAA to AUv3 to Apple now putting the M-Series chips into the iPads. The ecosystem just keeps evolving and each year continues to bring new surprises.

This list contains everything we've gathered right now but if you think we've missed anything please make sure to leave your thoughts in either the Youtube Comments or in the Audiobus Forum. We'd love to hear from you and keep this list as up to date as possible.

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