News

Pitch, Please 2.3

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The pitch pipe widget that we introduced with forScore 8 has proven to be a big hit, and it wasn’t long after people started using it that our suggestion box began filling up with requests for bringing something similar to the small-screen version of our pitch pipe, Pitch, Please! We listened, and with today’s update to version 2.3 we’re doing exactly that.

The widget relies on the app’s settings, so you can simply set the sound, octave, and tone that you want to use within the app, then get instant access to the note you need from just about anywhere. Those settings get pushed from the app to the widget, not the other way around, so you may not hear anything until you run the app and change the octave and sound settings at least once.

Other than that, it’s identical to the iPad version except that it uses two rows of buttons instead of one. It’s a fun and handy enhancement to a great tool, and we think you’ll love it. Check out Pitch, Please! 2.3 on the app store today!

iOS 8 Issues

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Update: forScore 8.0.4 is available now, please update if you’re using iOS 8.

We work hard to ensure that major updates go as smoothly as possible—both forScore updates and iOS updates. This year, like every year, we downloaded each of the iOS betas on day one and worked incredibly hard to accommodate changes and keep an eye out for bugs. Unfortunately, some issues just don’t come to light until everything goes live. For our users running iOS 8, one particular problem has surfaced and we wanted to take some time to explain what it is, why it happened, and what we’ve done to fix it.

Some users have found that when they turn from one page of a score to the next, what they actually see is a page from a completely different score. With the help of some very patient beta testers, we were able to determine that the problem comes down to one of the most basic parts of iOS itself: user preferences. Most developers use this system to store your settings and environmental information (in our case, the name of the file you’re looking at). In iOS 8, these values occasionally revert to an earlier state without warning.

To be clear, this isn’t an issue with our major forScore 8.0 update. In fact, we’ve had very few issues related to new or updated features. It’s a problem with iOS, and ultimately Apple will need to fix it. Until then, however, we’ve relocated the information we rely on most to mitigate the worst symptoms of this problem. Our 8.0.2 update, which was submitted before we were able to track down this issue, has already been in review for almost two weeks, so we’re waiting for it to be approved before we submit 8.0.3 with these fixes. We’ll be requesting an expedited review for 8.0.3, since this problem is so severe, and we hope to have everything sorted out soon.

We can’t change the fact that these issues exist, but we can and are doing everything we can to respond to them swiftly. Thank you for your patience and continued support.

forScore mini

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As some great developers once said, some ideas don’t make sense until suddenly they do. Today we’re very excited to give you a first look at a project we’ve been working on for quite some time now: forScore for iPhone.

Since forScore was first introduced we’ve heard from people who, while recognizing the obvious limitations of viewing sheet music on a tiny screen, have wondered if there was a way to combine the ultimate portability and connectivity of an iPhone with the full feature set and speed of the iPad. That’s exactly what we’ve done, and forScore on the small screen is no compromise when it comes to either. It’s lightning fast, and it replicates every single feature of forScore for iPad (except the storefront, due to in-app purchase limitations). It’s not a read-only app, not a mobile companion, it’s the complete forScore experience in your pocket. This was our most important goal when designing forScore mini, and we couldn’t be more proud of the results.

Of course, the 4-inch elephant in the room is the iPhone’s tiny screen size. Thankfully, Apple answered that question for us (as we were hoping they would) with the new iPhone 6 and 6 plus. Suddenly, this idea makes sense. The 4.7 and 5.5-inch screens used in the latest generation of iPhones are a huge step up and really make this a viable product. We won’t be requiring an iPhone 6, but we’ll be strongly recommending one.

Finally, our incredible new layout feature that we introduced with forScore 8, Reflow, is a key part of this mobile experience. Reflow, if you missed our recent post, is an accessibility feature that finds and lays out each system of music in a score end-to-end, creating a sort of horizontal teleprompter experience that lets you significantly increase the size of music on a device. On the iPad, it’s a great enhancement for our customers with vision problems, but on the iPhone it’s essential. It’s what turns a tool for casual review into a full-blown music reader.

This is new territory for us, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re going to need some help, though, so we’re asking for beta testers to try it out and give us feedback on what works and what doesn’t. If you’re interested, let us know. Otherwise, be sure to check back here as we finish it up and release it later this year.

Update: We have reached our beta tester goal for this version, but we’re working hard to finish forScore mini so everyone can try it out as soon as possible. Thanks for your interest!

Small App Updates

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Our three apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch have been optimized today for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus’ bigger screens. Cue 1.1, Pitch, Please! 2.2, and Beat Keeper 3.1 will now look great on these latest iPhones without scaling up, and we’ll be taking another pass at them once we actually have an iPhone 6 Plus in hand to see what else we can do to take full advantage of its huge new screen. These three apps updates are free, so be sure to check them out if you’re upgrading!

forScore 8.0

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Today we’re proud to announce the release of our latest major update to forScore, version 8.0. Over the past several weeks, we’ve taken an in-depth look at some of its key features and enhancements: an updated media box, a brand new tuner, integration with select Bluetooth Smart devices, a completely redesigned annotation experience, and innovative new accessibility features.

It’s also compatible with iOS 8 and includes a few other features that we didn’t get a chance to unveil, such as the ability to export your setlists as one long merged PDF, the ability to batch export annotated PDFs, and a widget that lets you access forScore’s pitch pipe from iOS 8’s “today” view.

This great update to forScore is completely free for existing users, as always, and now just $9.99 (USD) for everyone else.

iOS 8 Compatibility

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With iOS 8’s release coming this Wednesday, we wanted to take a moment to discuss some important things forScore users should be aware of.

First, forScore 7.1.2 is not compatible with iOS 8, so if you upgrade your iPad to iOS 8 you’ll also need to install our forScore 8.0 update. Otherwise, forScore 8 works great with both iOS 7 and 8, so you can continue to use iOS 7 and still get forScore’s latest and greatest features if you like.

Unfortunately, we’ve discovered that iOS 8 breaks forScore’s “force virtual keyboard” feature which allows users to type with the virtual keyboard even when a keyboard-style Bluetooth page turner is connected. In short, we don’t expect to be able to fix it. If you’re using an AirTurn BT-105, PageFlip Firefly, or certain newer revisions of PageFlip’s Cicada, however, you can take advantage of hardware features that work around this problem. Otherwise, you’ll need to turn off the page turner every time you want to type. The iRig BlueBoard, which uses Bluetooth Smart, is completely unaffected.

We know this will be a big issue for some of our customers, and we won’t stop looking for other potential ways of working around this limitation. Until then, please help us spread the word by letting your colleagues know so everyone can make an informed decision about when to upgrade. Regardless, we’re very excited about the upcoming release of forScore 8.0, and we’ll be announcing it right here very soon.


Update: Edited to include new information about PageFlip’s hardware workaround.

Developers

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Our next big update to forScore is coming soon, but we wanted to take a moment today to announce something a little different: a new Developer initiative that we’ve been working on over the past few months and a set of forScore SDKs.

SDKs, or Software Development Kits, allow developers to share functionality without revealing their code (we use Dropbox’s SDK, for instance, to allow our users to share files with their cloud storage service). This creates a safe way for developers to collaborate without worrying about their code being altered or exploited. When we began to consider creating our own SDKs, we identified three unique situations where customers might want this kind of collaboration: remote control, publishing, and sharing.

Cue, forScore’s remote control protocol, has proven to be a big hit with musicians. It allows one person to use forScore just as they normally would, and allows other nearby forScore users to follow along automatically. It’s a great feature, but it’s just one implementation of a common idea. Several music readers have similar features, but none of them work together, and our new CueKit SDK aims to fix that. With it, other apps can connect to forScore and send or receive program changes, page turns, and more.

ScoreKit, our second SDK, lets other apps export PDF files using forScore’s 4SC format, so they can share their scores with additional metadata and annotations. Music composition apps might use this tool to help their musicians transition from creating to performing their own music. ScoreKit can also read 4SC files sent from forScore, with one important rule: any app that can import 4SC files must also export them. After all, we want to improve collaboration, not give our competitors a one-way advantage.

We work hard to make forScore the best app it can be, but we know that people have many choices and we want them to be able to use the best app for them without feeling locked in or left out. We know this is just a first step, but we’re very excited to continue this initiative and find other ways we can work with our colleagues to elevate the ecosystem for all musicians. If you’re using an app that you think could benefit from one of our SDKs, let their creators know! Both of our SDKs are completely free, so there’s no reason for them not to take a look.

forScore 8: Accessibility

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We’ve heard from people all over the world who say that forScore has enabled them to continue playing music despite impaired vision or motor skills, and we’ve been working hard for over a year to find a better way to not just accommodate these kinds of users, but to rethink sheet music and be the first music reader to truly leverage the potential of its foundational technologies to dramatically extend usability. We call this technology Reflow, and we’re very excited to introduce it later this month with forScore 8.

Reflow scans your sheet music to figure out where each system of music is, then renders those areas (at up to twice their original size) and lays them out end-to-end. Tap the sides of the screen or use a page turner to move backwards and forwards by a set amount, or let your music scroll by like a horizontal teleprompter and tap the screen or use your pedals to speed it up or slow it down as you play.

While Reflow’s automatic detection does most of the work for you, some files may need manual adjustment (especially crooked scans). That’s where the editing interface comes in, allowing you to drag zones around, resize them, and split them for a perfect layout on each page.

For users with color blindness or deteriorating eyesight, iOS 7’s radical redesign can make it difficult to distinguish between interactive and non-interactive controls. Now you’ll be able to change the blue tint color used throughout forScore to something more comfortable for you. Both Reflow and app tint can be found in the new “Accessibility” section of forScore’s settings panel, and they join great system-wide accessibility features such as Dynamic Type, bold type, and inverted colors.

When we introduced forScore four years ago, we knew that choosing to work exclusively with PDF files would limit our ability to add most kinds of accessibility features, and we’re very proud of the work we’ve done so far to help bring more musicians back to their instruments. We know this is just a start, and we’re looking forward to having ongoing conversations with our customers to find even more ways to innovate and make music something we can all truly share.

forScore 8: Annotations

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Annotation is the heart of forScore, and we’re constantly looking for ways to improve not just the technologies that power it, but also the interface that defines it. With forScore 8, coming later this month, we’ve redesigned the annotation controls to refocus on efficiency and clarity. We’ve flattened a hierarchy of panels and popovers into a more utilitarian layout that reduces the number of taps required to annotate effectively.

Instead of picking your drawing presets from a list of names, they’re all on display along the toolbar so you can find the right one instantly and select it with a tap. If you want to edit it, tap a second time, and if you have more presets than fit on the page you can scroll left and right to see them all. Stamps and shapes work similarly, with a live preview of your current stamp or shape tinted and resized to match your settings. Tap once to select either tool, and select again to pick a new stamp or shape or to edit it.

The stamps panel itself has been completely rewritten as a collection view that scrolls up and down freely instead of paging left and right, and it no longer requires an “edit” mode to rearrange, add, delete, or edit your stamps. We’ve also added a new layout that makes stamps accessible without covering up a significant portion of the page: tap the new arrow button in the top left-hand corner to shrink it down into a single column of stamps that fills up the screen vertically. Finally, when placing stamps on a page, last-minute movements made by lifting your finger are now ignored for improved accuracy.

Text annotations got some improvements, too, with a new scaling option in the settings panel to ensure that text annotations line up consistently with your music in both portrait and landscape orientations. Since this affects existing annotations, it has only been enabled by default for new users. For other users, turning it on will make text annotations larger in landscape orientation than they have been previously, so some manual adjustments might be necessary.

These improvements join a list of great updates coming with forScore 8, and we’re very excited to get them out the door. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, be sure to take a look at our previous posts unveiling a new media box, tuner, and devices panel.

forScore 8: Devices

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We’re releasing a big update to forScore later this month, and this is the third in a series of in-depth looks we’ll be posting as we count down to its release. If you haven’t had a chance to yet, be sure to check out forScore 8’s new media box and tuner. That’s just the start, though, and today we’re really excited to unveil our next big thing. But first, a little background:

Bluetooth Smart, or Bluetooth LE is an extremely lightweight version of the same wireless technology that’s been around for years, but it uses a fraction of the power meaning both your peripherals and your iPad will last longer between charges. With forScore 8, we’ve added a centralized hub for you to connect to and manage certain peripherals that use this technology, a new “Devices” panel that you’ll find in the tools menu.

At launch, we’ll support IK Multimedia’s iRig BlueBoard, FiftyThree’s Pencil, and Adonit’s Jot Script. Of course, forScore already works with the iRig BlueBoard, but it currently requires an intermediary app to be running in the background. Now, you’ll be able to skip that step and connect directly to this great page turner featuring four backlit pedals, two auxiliary ports, and long battery life.

We also knew from the start that we wanted to support some of the great stylus options out there. We began by working with Adonit and FiftyThree’s SDKs (software development kits), but realized that using them would quadruple forScore’s size and limit our ability to fix any issues that might arise. Instead, we sat down to create our own solution and ended up with something that worked similarly but only took up a tiny fraction of the resources.

It was a tough choice to make, since we know people buy these devices expecting a uniform experience across compatible apps and that we’d be giving up some of the benefits of having a more formal partnership with these companies, but ultimately we’d rather make forScore the best product it can be and we think this is how we do that. Now you’ll get an even better drawing experience, palm rejection so you can draw and write more naturally and, if you’re using the Pencil, just flip it around to erase like you would with a real pencil—it’s a real treat to use.

Be sure to check back with us soon, because great stylus support is just the first half of forScore 8’s brand new annotation experience.