Android 15 Now Supports MIDI 2.0 – Here’s Why That Matters…

MIDI 2.0 support is now baked inside Android 15 – here’s why that is a big deal

With the advent of Android 15, Google is setting a new benchmark for mobile operating systems, particularly in the realms of multimedia and creative applications. Among the plethora of enhancements inside the new operating system, one that isn’t getting much attention is Google adding in support for MIDI 2.0.

But as someone that has a healthy interest in music and music production, I figured I’d put a stop to this and outline why Android 15’s support for MIDI 2.0 is a pretty big deal.

Why MIDI 2.0 Matters

Android 15 Now Supports MIDI 2.0 – Here's Why That Matters...Pin

Released in 2020, MIDI 2.0 is a pretty big deal for anyone that works in the music creation / production business. Picking up where MIDI 1.0 left off, MIDI 2.0 adds in an entire roster of improvements that make for huge differences in your workflow. 

If you’re not familiar with MIDI 2.0’s capabilities and what it brings to the table, here’s an overview of its improvements and how it compares to MIDI 1.0: 

Increased capabilities:

  • Bidirectional communication: Unlike MIDI 1.0, which primarily sent information one way, MIDI 2.0 allows devices to talk to each other. This enables features like automatic configuration, real-time feedback, and deeper integration between instruments and software.
  • Higher resolution: MIDI 1.0 limited control to 128 steps. MIDI 2.0 jumps to 32-bit resolution, offering much finer control over parameters like pitch, velocity, and timing, leading to more nuanced and expressive playing.
  • More channels: From 16 MIDI channels in 1.0, MIDI 2.0 expands to 256, allowing for richer and more complex arrangements with numerous instruments playing simultaneously.
  • New features: It introduces new message types for extended control over things like lighting, visuals, and haptic feedback, opening doors for immersive and interactive musical experiences.

Benefits for musicians:

  • More expressive performances: Higher resolution and bi-directional communication enable richer dynamics, subtle nuances, and tighter synchronization between instruments and software.
  • Simplified setup and workflow: Automatic configuration and device discovery can streamline the setup process and improve compatibility.
  • Future-proof technology: MIDI 2.0 opens doors for innovative instruments and features not yet imagined, ensuring your setup is ready for the future.

MIDI 2.0 vs MIDI 1.0

The original MIDI 1.0 protocol, while revolutionary in its time, allowed unidirectional communication – typically from a controller to an instrument. MIDI 2.0 does away with this limitation by enabling bidirectional conversation, meaning devices can exchange data in real-time.

This two-way communication means you get immediate feedback from your instruments and controllers, akin to the dynamics of playing physical instruments.

MIDI 2.0 also has increased resolution for musical parameters such as velocity, pitch, and timing. This heightened sensitivity brings digital instrument expression closer to the nuanced, emotive response of their acoustic counterparts, offering artists a richer palette for creativity.

MIDI 2 Profiles

One of the standout features of MIDI 2.0 is the introduction of “profiles.”

These profiles facilitate seamless interoperability between devices by allowing them to share their capabilities and requirements upon connection, elimination the need to manually configure each, new device when it is reconnected.

If you’ve used it once and set it up, Profiles ensures that it is remembered for the next time. And – of course – MIDI 2.0 is backwards compatible with MIDI 1.0 as well.

Android Needs A GarageBand Alternative

Android 15 Now Supports MIDI 2.0 – Here's Why That Matters...Pin

The elephant in the room right now, however, is that Android does not have a viable GarageBand alternative. Sure, there’s been plenty of attempts from developers, and there’s a plethora of music creation apps inside the Google Play Store. 

But as of right now, there is nothing that can match the calibre of GarageBand. 

Is Google going to develop an in-house GarageBand alternative? I don’t think so. It has bigger, AI-sized fish to fry. Plus, the “demand” for such a thing on Android probably isn’t enough to warrant the cost of developing it. 

A full-stack DAW would cost tens of millions to create. 

And then there’s the obvious next question: would anyone use their Android phone – or tablet – for music creation when, traditionally, it is always done on desktop computers because you need that kind of screen real-estate for proper mixing and track arrangement. 

This means it is the responsibility of third-party developers to create something. But creating a fully-fledged DAW from the ground up, let alone something aimed squarely at  Android, is no simple task. Cubase, Reaper, and Ableton Live all cost tens of millions to develop and update. 

If there was a market for such a thing, I think one of the legacy DAW brands would have stepped in to fill it. There is a pretty good reason why most DAWs are desktop-only: it’s because creating and editing music on a phone-sized screen is a truly horrible experience. 

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin is a leading UK technology journalist with a focus on consumer tech trends and data security. Renowned for his insightful analysis, Richard has contributed to Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and CNBC, making complex tech issues accessible to a broad audience.

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