Here is a small follow up about the upcoming update of Chord! for iOS. Quality assessment has began and should last a few weeks, followed by a beta testing phase. If you want to participate, please sign in here. Beta testing of the Android version will begin later this year, but you can already sign in too.

Dropbox sync was implemented and working as an alternative way to sync user data. Unfortunately, Dropbox just announced that they will pull out two APIs (i.e. two ways to speak to Dropbox servers) that the app was using to sync. A solution is possible but it will require some time to test it out so I’ve chosen to postpone Dropbox support to another update.

Even with Dropbox sync pulled out temporarily, this update is still packed with a lot of goodies. Here is a small excerpt.

Scale fingerings and chord arpeggios

The app knows how to compute fingerings for chords. However, for scales, it was simply laying down the notes on a neck. Not anymore: the app can now compute true scale fingerings or runs on this neck. In the same spirit as for chord fingerings, you define some parameters like the number of frets allowed per string, or the maximum offset from one string to another, and the app computes possible fingerings.

With the same engine, the app is able to compute chord arpeggios too! If you restrict to arpeggios with only one note per string, the app will generate sweepable arpeggios, but you can also tell it that you’re looking to arpeggios with an odd number of notes per string and which goes toward the bridge as you go from strings to strings. Or the opposite! A post will follow soon with some explanations about the settings of the engine.

Custom chords, scales and fingerings

You can now define custom chords, with custom symbols and formulas (even impossible before) and use them in songs, in reverse searches, or compute their fingerings. The same for scales (and you can compute their fingerings as stated above!).

Furthermore, you can define custom chord fingerings (even musically wrong) and use them in songs or in searches. No more hide an seek game to make the app generate this exotic fingering you want to put in a song. You simply define it, with arbitrary notes, bars and fingers positions (and the thumb can be used by the way).

All these new custom items are oriented toward the advanced player/user. If you are a beginner, you most likely don’t need them yet.

Collections

You can already gather things with tags. They have some limits though: items can appear only once and they can’t be arbitrarily ordered. A new grouping type called Collection is introduced in the new update. Items can appear multiple times and be ordered.

There is one restriction however: only songs, chords, chord fingerings, scales, and scale fingerings can be put into collections, and a collection can only hold items of the same kind. That is, only songs, only chords, etc. This allows to use collections in a more powerful way than tags in some cases. For example, collections of chords or chord fingerings can be transposed on the fly and used when writing songs or to feed the harmonizer.

Collections of songs can easily be shared with other Chord! users (only on iOS for now, but the file format have been set up with Android in mind too). Collections of fingerings can be exported as PDF or images (PNG and JPG).

In the future, more input/output with collections will be implemented. Tags are still there of course since they have their own strengths and usages.

Audio track play along with independant pitch and speed

You can attach audio tracks to songs (in such case, autoscrolling is linked to the track duration, but you can still specify start and stop scrolling bounds). Audio tracks can come from your music library, or you can add them to the app, either from other apps (via “Open In”) or from iTunes on your computer (by dragging them into the app’s documents folder). Please note that in order to save storage, audio files hosted by the app are not backed up or nor synced to iCloud.

You can set independently the speed and the pitch of the track, So you can rise up of 1 semitone this Hendrix’s version of Hey Joe to match your standardly tuned guitar for example.

And a lot of smaller things…

There were a lot of smaller addition/refinements since the last update too:

  • You can define Symbols and use them in songs. These are small group of characters with no musical meaning. You can drag and drop them in songs like you do for chords; Think of some decorations like “/” or “(2x)”;
  • You can save all your data (and not only songs and custom tunings) in backup archives: songs, chords, scales, fingerings, tunings, symbols, collections, and tags with their content;
  • You can save several PDF templates for exporting songs or fingerings collections;
  • You can export PDF with landscape orientation.
  • You can sort songs by Artist, Title or Date, and display them as a list or as thumbnails.
  • When importing songs from text, the app does a better job at recognizing line type and chord symbols.
  • Chord fingerings are sorted even more naturally.
  • The full neck used for scale fingerings and arpeggios is faster.

What’s next?

The iOS version is now very powerful, but also more complex for the beginner/newcomer. Some video tutorials are in preparation and will be released in the timeframe of the update. I will work on bringing in Dropbox sync for later this year. Some exiting new features are still in the tubes!

Work on the Android update has already begun. I’m not planning to release monolithic releases like for iOS because Google Play allows more incremental updated. A first update should be ready in the upcoming months, but I will post more on the Android version in the upcoming weeks.