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Beatronome: A Look at the Metronome App for iOS

Beatronome app iconEver since I got my first iOS device, I’ve become a bit of a metronome junkie. I’m endlessly curious about how many ways one can implement time keeping into a design aesthetic and how many functions can developers think of doing. I’m also a fan of minimalism… I love a great, bare bones design: no fluff, no fat, just what you need when you need it.

Beatronome is so close to ideal, it kills me that there is just one or two things missing that make me say, “Really? why?” These are things that everyone may not even need or want, but I couldn’t understand why they weren’t there anyway. We’ll get to that, let me show you the app first.

Beatronome screen exampleThe goal behind Beatronome seems to have been a lack of clutter and ease of use. While not 100% intuitive, once you figure out how the app wants you to interact with it, it’s as simple as it could be and it certainly is a joy to look at.

Our main screen has a few numbers and geometric shapes representing the various tools:

  • Circle with tempo and division to be played
  • Rectangle with an empty space that fills in sections (depending on how many bars you want the app to keep track of. For example, if you have 4 bar phrases, it’ll color fill in quarters with each passing beat and then start over)
  • Two small circles that represent passing beats (accented or un-accented depending on whether you tap them or not)
  • The familiar “i” which brings up a quick tutorial of how to use the app.

The only things you can do on this screen are change the subdivision played, choose accented beats and start and stop the metronome.

To make any other changes in functionality, you must swipe down, which brings up the screen where you can choose:

  • Tempo (including tap tempo)
  • Bar numbers
  • Beat numbers

This is where I went, “huh?!” You increase or decrease the values by pressing and then dragging left or right.

  • BPM – range from 30 – 240
  • Bar – Range from 1 – 12 all of that is fine but when we get to…
  • BEAT – instead of a nice range of numbers like 2-9, for example (for how many beats in our bar) we only get 2, 3, 4, 6
  • Why not include 5?…7?! Why not just a nice (inclusive) range.

I can’t imagine why they would exclude the prime numbers (other than 3 of course, which is far too common to omit).

That’s my beef with the app but, other than that, the app seems perfectly accurate, perfectly stable, easy to use and a joy to look at. I still love the app, but I would love to see a wider range of beats/bar and compound meters are always a plus, in my book. But, if you only require time signatures in either 3 or 4 (essentially) than this app would be absolutely wonderful. If you have any inclination to dabble in 5’s, 7’s, compound meters or the like, you might want to try Dr. Beatotte or Metronomics (or any number of metronomes out there).

All in all, I give this app a solid B+. It would have gotten a big shining A if they had just included that darn 5 and 7 (which are ever more common in jazz these days) in their beat ranges.

Beatronome is available for $0.99 from the App Store. The app is a universal one, designed for both iPhone and iPad and is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Beatronome requires iOS 5.0 or later.