Pocket Piano Plus for iPhone review

As you might guess, Pocket Piano turns an iPhone or iPod touch into a mini piano. The app comes in two versions: the 59p version has just a standard piano sound while the £1.79 version, Pocket Piano Plus, provides eight additional sounds: electric guitar, sitar, violin, flute, acoustic guitar, harmonica, dog and bagpipes. Other than the additional sounds in the Plus version, both apps function the same.

The app lets you play up to five notes simultaneously on three different styles of keyboards: a one-octave keyboard (large keys), a two-octave keyboard (small keys), and a dual-row one-octave keyboard. Even with average-sized hands we found it difficult to play more than three notes at a time on the large-key keyboard. The keys on the two-octave keyboard are half the width of the large keys, making it doubly hard to play anything except Jingle Bells Schroeder-style. The standard piano voice is very good, but the additional eight instruments sound artificial. The process of switching between voices is also odd; after you’ve switched instruments a couple of times, when you try to select a different one, you’re told to close the app and reopen it to make others available.

Pocket Piano offers a metronome that’s functional, but its method of changing the beats per minute is very awkward. Rather than using the standard iPhone spin/dial interface (like the Calendar app uses for setting an appointment time, for example), you have to tap the individual digits to change each one separately. The app only lets you move the numbers forward, not backward so it’s a pain if you want to go from, say, 80 beats per minute to 70. The app also provides a simple way to record your work but there doesn’t appear to be a way to save your recordings.

OUR VERDICT

You will will either love or hate Pocket Piano. If you’re looking for an app to simply play around with, rather than something to seriously make music with, then you might be satisfied with either of these apps. For us, though, neither version makes the grade.

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