A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that GarageBand is powerful digital music workstation and multitrack recorder for iOS devices that's similar to GarageBand for Mac OS X. Kids can create songs and soundscapes in a number of ways -- by sequencing high quality pre-recorded loops, by playing virtual instruments (guitars, basses, strings, keyboards, and drums), or by recording live instruments and vocals -- all in an intuitive and engaging interface. Added bonus: the great editing tools that tighten up any musical performance. Kids can share their GarageBand songs via social media, email, or text, even export them to iMovie and iTunes (where they can be used as one-of-a-kind ring or text tone). The deeper kids dig into this robust app, the more professional audio production tools they'll discover to help express themselves.
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What's it about?
With GarageBand, kids can record and layer up to eight tracks of loops, instruments, and vocals to create original songs and soundscapes. The app has several standout features: pre-recorded loops and drum grooves; a collection of virtual Smart Instruments with pre-programmed chord progressions, scales, and rhythmic riffs; music editing and production tools; and sharing features that can post songs, pair devices for a virtual jam session, and customize ring and text tones. Players can record vocals, live instruments, or ambient sounds using the in-app microphone. They can also connect an external microphone and plug a guitar into their iOS devices using specialized adapters for pro-quality live recording in GarageBand.
Is it any good?
There's really no app like GarageBand -- imagine being able to write, record, and share your own professional quality music wherever you are with a few taps of a screen. GarageBand is a powerful mobile digital audio workstation for multitrack recording with impressive, on-board loops and production and editing tools. The app's multitouch controls and visual interface help kids see their music so it demystifies how songs are put together and recorded. There are some pretty sophisticated features here, but the app is intuitive enough so that anyone can jump in and start creating music, regardless of music training. (Plus the in-app support is fantastic and is available in 34 different languages!)
GarageBand is huge (588 MB) -- but that's because it's a fully-functional mobile recording studio complete with high quality sounds, interactive virtual instruments, and helpful tools for endless music creation. Two minor downsides: kids can't download additional loops, and woodwind and brass instruments aren't plentiful in the sound bank. Still, everything else is here for unthought of music creation -- all in a portable, intuitive, touch-screen design that puts amazing music making at your fingertips.
Editor's note: Reviewer Kim Alessi worked with Apple as curriculum writer and consultant from 2004 to 2008.
Talk to your kids about ...
Watch live music together as a family and talk about how the instruments and singers interact with each other. Ask how sound layers on sound.
Talk about different musical genres. Ask your kid what styles they like best and why. Record an original song together in their favorite style.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Mac
- Subjects: Science: engineering, physics
Arts: improvising and music analysis, music, rhythm, singing
- Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation
Communication: multiple forms of expression
Creativity: making new creations
- Price: Free on newer devices; $4.99 otherwise
- Pricing structure: Free (32 GB or larger iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 10 or later, or recently purchased Mac laptops/desktops, already have installed installed.)
- Release date: January 21, 2017
- Category: Music
- Size: 1700.00 MB
- Publisher: Apple
- Version: 2.2.1
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 10.2 or later
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love music and creating
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.