FL Studio Mobile is finally available on Android! Image Line has been public about their plans to make an Android version since releasing FL Studio Mobile for iOS, but it’s still quite a surprise to see such such a big name in music tech expand with an Android version considering the lack of major music creation features available on iOS: AudioCopy, Audiobus, a MIDI standard, Virtual MIDI, ect… But this can really only be a good thing – hopefully more app will be inspired to make Android versions of their apps as well. I got a chance to talk with Scott Fisher from Image Line about these and other topics regarding audio on Android, and their decision in making an Android version of FL Studio Mobile…
AOA: What Android devices do you recommend for use with FL Studio Mobile? What’s the lowest you’ve gotten the latency down to, and on what device?
Scott Fisher: At the moment we’d recommend the Nexus 7 or Nexus 4 as they are both used for our in-house testing, and being Google products the OS gets updated first, frequently and without modifications from hardware manufacturers.
About latency, we measure it as the delay between screen contact and audio being heard. When reading around the web be careful to note how latency is being measured, some just report the audio side of things without the touch layer. So, from touch to sound the lowest latency we’ve seen is around 80 ms on the Nexus 4. We hope to see that falling further as Google and device manufacturers get even more serious about low latency audio support. Android latency was circa several hundred ms until only recently. Although, if you are sequencing rather than playing live then latency is much less of an issue.
For the record, iOS devices can range anywhere from 150 ms down to 30-40 ms depending on the device, application and settings. We also may have some extra tricks up our sleeves in future to get the latency even lower, we are learning very fast since FL Mobile v1.0 for Android was launched.
AOA: Did you guys use Google’s audio APIs, or reinvent the wheel?
Scott Fisher: The work on the audio engine is our own but yes we do use whatever API tools Google offers.
AOA: Considering the latency issues, and lack of music making features, what made you guys decide to expand with an Android version?
Scott Fisher: To be clear, we are not jumping ship to Android, we are adding support for it. The iOS and Android versions will both continue and merge in features/functions as we move forward. Why are we interested? In the US, Android devices, at about 52% out number iOS at 38% while outside the US it’s about 70% Android vs 20% iOS. So you don’t need to be a market research guru to understand why the Android market is important. If you check any of our social media, such as Facebook, over the last couple of years, every time we announced something to do with FL Studio Mobile iOS we got more comments requesting an Android version than anything else. Of course now we have Android it’s “Where’s Windows Phone, Blackberry & even Kindle”
AOA: Are there plans to add USB MIDI support?
Scott Fisher: USB MIDI will be introduced in a future update.
AOA: Do you see more iOS audio apps expanding with Android versions / developers starting on android?
Scott Fisher: The process was fairly tough there was a lot to learn about the audio engine, screen resolutions and plethora of hardware devices that needed to be supported. That said, the iOS platform has undergone its own complexification of devices, CPUs and resolutions since we started Android, so it’s no longer as simple as it once was either. Sure we expect to see more audio applications making the transition, particularly if we are seen to be doing well, and FL Studio Mobile for Android is flying out the door at the moment.