Why aren’t there more iOS Audio Units?
When Audio Units arrived on iOS in 2015, we suspected that they’d come to supercede the likes of Audiobus and Inter-App Audio. Whereas these standards enable you to connect apps and use them together, AUs offer the promise of proper plug-in-style hosting of instruments and apps within your iPhone or iPad DAW, which certainly seems like a better solution.
All of this remains true, but the bottom line is that we haven’t seen as many iOS AUs as we were expecting. It’s hard to say why this is, but the bottom line could be… well, the bottom line. Let’s not forget that most iOS apps sell for a fraction of the price of their desktop counterparts, so it’s much harder for a developer to justify spending time and money adding features (in this case, AU support) if they don’t think it’ll result in a massive increase in sales. And perhaps either the demand for AUs just isn’t as great as we might think, or adding AU support is particularly tricky or labour-intensive.
It’s also worth noting that not all iOS music production apps currently have the option of hosting AUs. You’ll find it in the likes of GarageBand, Cubasis and Auria, for example, but not in Korg’s Gadget. As such, it doesn’t yet feel like a full-on ‘standard’ that developers feel compelled to support.
Nevertheless, we still think that iOS AUs have great potential. Yes, we’re still waiting for some major