news

NYTimes: When Classical Musicians Go Digital

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This Sunday’s print edition of the New York Times will feature an article discussing the shift from paper to digital sheet music, but a version of the article is already available online. We were interviewed for the article, and while none of our comments made it into the final piece, it’s a great look at the transition and especially the impact it can have on annotation.

Image by Michael George for The New York Times

Beta Testing

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Today we released forScore 9.4 and forScore mini 2.4, kicking off the start of what’s sure to be a busy summer for us. We’re working hard on a big new update and, with Apple presumably set to announce and start publicly testing iOS 10 next month at their annual developer’s conference, there’s a lot to get excited about.

Of course, it takes a lot of work to refine a beta version and turn it into something that’s ready for release. Often the only way to find and fix bugs and usability issues is to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. That’s why we use TestFlight—Apple’s beta testing service—to work through those problems. Beta testing is more than just getting a sneak peek at new features and updates, it requires attentive and communicative users who are passionate about helping to make forScore the best app it can be. If you’re up to the challenge, consider becoming a beta tester. Our beta testers provide invaluable feedback and their participation is sincerely appreciated.

forScore 9.4

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Today we’re proud to announce the immediate availability of forScore 9.4 and forScore mini 2.4. These updates includes some new enhancements designed to improve usability in two key areas:

First, we’ve added a new section in forScore’s settings panel called “annotation tools” that gives you more control over how annotation mode saves your last-used tool or preset. Choose which tools can be saved between annotation sessions and which should not, or specify one particular drawing preset that will always be active every time you begin annotating. The new settings are available for all devices, but should be especially helpful for users with Apple Pencil and forScore’s live annotations enabled.

We’ve also made it easier to download scores from a cloud service directly to a setlist. Either tap and hold an item or use the “Edit” button to select multiple items and then tap and hold the download button in the toolbar. Or, if you’re using iOS 8 or higher, you can also swipe left over an item and select the new “Download…” option. Once you do, you can choose to download the item(s) to your library like you normally would, download them to the current setlist (if you’re playing or viewing one), or download them to any setlist in your library.

These specific enhancements really boost productivity in key areas, and we think they’ll make a big difference. Thanks as always to our customers—and especially our beta testers—for helping us continue to make forScore the best app it can be. These updates are free for all existing users and still just $9.99 and $6.99 (USD) for newcomers, so be sure to check them out today!

iRig BlueTurn

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Over the past six years, we’ve seen several different companies bring page turners to the market and continue to innovate with firmware updates and new models. From the original versions to their modern counterparts, each company has tried to balance portability, reliability, power, and software connectivity in a variety of different ways. The latest entrant is IKMultimedia’s iRig BlueTurn, and it’s a solid device that strikes a good balance between each of the tradeoffs found with its competitors.

The BlueTurn looks a lot like half of IKMultimedia’s iRig BlueBoard, featuring two of the same rubberized backlit pads that are completely silent and have a different feel than the more traditional pedals of most other devices. Unlike the BlueBoard, which was designed more for MIDI functions and features its own companion app, the BlueTurn is more like the other keyboard-based page turners on the market. It sends standard up/down, left/right, or page up/page down keys—all of which work with forScore without any additional configuration.

It uses the Bluetooth Smart standard (a.k.a Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth 4.1), making it incredibly power efficient. It runs off of two AAA batteries that can be quickly replaced in a pinch, unlike other page turners that rely on built-in, slowly rechargeable batteries. You’ll need a Bluetooth Smart-capable device to use the BlueTurn, and every iPad except the iPad 1 and 2 will work.

There are other Bluetooth Smart devices out there that are compatible with forScore, including the larger BlueBoard, but their connection must be micromanaged from within forScore’s Devices panel. The AirTurn PED requires its own SDK and uses its own interface to manage the connection, and when things go wrong these extra steps can be a pain. The BlueTurn, on the other hand, connects like most older page turners—through the Settings app. Setup is straightforward and reliable, and once it’s done you shouldn’t have to think about it ever again.

The biggest downside to the BlueTurn is that iOS disables the virtual, on-screen keyboard when it’s connected (just like Airturn’s BT- series, PageFlip’s Cicada and Firefly, and the Footime page turner do). You can toggle the keyboard by pressing and holding the left pad for three seconds, but this extra step is definitely something avid users of forScore’s text annotations and search features should be aware of.

Beyond that, the BlueTurn works just like you’d expect. Press the right button to turn the page forwards, and the left button to turn backwards. And at $69 (USD), it’s a good option for musicians who don’t need extra pedals and don’t rely heavily on typing.

Pros:

• Bluetooth Smart technology provides great battery life
• Batteries can be replaced quickly
• Backlit pads are easy to see in dim environments
• Connects on a system level via the Settings app
• Works out of the box, no need to adjust “modes”

Cons:

• Requires additional steps to use the on-screen virtual keyboard
• Incompatible with iPad 1 and 2
• No auxiliary ports for additional pedals

Minor Updates

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Today we’re happy to announce the immediate release of forScore 9.3.2 and forScore mini 2.3.2. These updates reduce the smallest possible size for drawing presets and stamps (great for iPad Pro), and they also include a variety of important bug fixes. Most notably, we’ve corrected an issue with Dashboard occasionally underreporting statistics, we’ve resolved some minor interface issues in annotation mode, made improvements to the Groups service’s syncing logic, and fixed an issue when rearranging setlists. That’s just the start, though, and while bug fixes may not be flashy, these small changes all add up to make your forScore experience even better.

We’re also releasing Pitch, Please! 2.4 which is now a universal app with support for iPad and the new Split View and Slide Over multitasking modes. This version also allows for a much greater range of tuning options when using the “Tone” sound option, and improves graphics quality and animations, so be sure to check it out today!

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