Apple Adds Chinese Instruments to GarageBand

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After a massive investment in Chinese Uber rival Didi Chuxing, Apple continues to woo the Asian country with...an update to GarageBand?

Cupertino today announced the addition of new Chinese instruments, as well as extensive language localization throughout the iOS and Mac apps. Users can tap into 300 original Chinese musical loops based on various instruments, styles, and content—background tracks to pair with traditional instruments like the pipa, erhu, and Chinese percussion (drums, wood blocks, cymbals, gongs).

"We're excited to introduce these new features that incorporate the rich history of traditional Chinese music," Susan Prescott, Apple's vice president of product marketing, said in a statement. "By adding classic Chinese instruments and new Live Loop templates, the new GarageBand makes it fun and easy to make Chinese-inspired music right on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac."

Each instrument comes with different playing articulations: trill, grace note, and glissando for erhu; rapid picking and note bend for pipa. New to the world of Chinese music? Using GarageBand's Autoplay feature, tap on any chord for a mini concert.

The tools can be played on iPhone or iPad using Multi-Touch, or on Mac through the built-in Musical Typing feature or via a third-party USB music keyboard.

Mobile musicians, meanwhile, also get two Chinese templates for Live Loops—one traditional, one modern—and the option to share melodies on Chinese social networks QQ and Youku.

"As a musician I'm always looking for ways to take my music in new directions and GarageBand has been such a great tool for me to experiment and add new elements to my songs on-the-go," said artist JJ Lin, seen jamming with Apple CEO Tim Cook in the video above.

Today's GarageBand 2.1.1 for iOS and GarageBand 10.1.2 for Mac updates are free for all existing users; customers with older, non-qualifying devices can purchase the app for $4.99. Users in Greater China will see the new features by default on iOS and OS X after updating; elsewhere, the program is visible by default on Mac, but must be enabled on iOS devices.

Cupertino this week rolled out a number of other software updates, including OS X 10.11.5, iOS 9.3.2, tvOS 9.2.1, watchOS 2.2.1, and iTunes 12.4, which squashes a bug that was silently deleting music libraries.

The move comes as Apple faces challenges in China, including reports that authorities are examining products from foreign companies to see if they pose security threats to consumers, the New York Times reports.

For more, see PCMag's reviews of Apple GarageBand for Mac and iPad.

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