The one-pad band for budding fab fours

Apple’s very own GarageBand is arguably still the best home studio app available on iOS, but despite all the plaudits, there’s at least one thing it doesn’t enable you to do – jam in a rock band. That’s where Rockmate comes in; developed by Fingerlab, it’s a lovingly created band-on-a-screen that enables four people to crowd around an iPad each playing a live instrument simultaneously.

The pitch is a simple one, but executed effectively in Rockmate. The iPad’s screen is perfectly suited to party use, with each instrument designed to be as large as possible. Each instrument – a bass keyboard, drum kit and two space-saving guitars – have a pleasingly analogue look, which is matched by the way they sound and react to being ‘played’.

Like GarageBand, the guitars rely on smart settings, meaning you can focus on notes and rhythm, rather than forming chords. Swapping between preset chords in real time is also possible with some degree of control. Meanwhile, the drums and keyboard are easy to use, and effective enough, if a little basic.

There are plenty of preset sound combinations too, aping a variety of guitar-band sounds. The ‘guitarists’ also get live effects that can be turned on and off, and all settings are customisable, while looping, recording and overdubbing features make Rockmate a solid mini studio, either with friends or without.

Rated 4 out of 5

Not as powerful as the very best music apps, but Rockmate caters for its market niche in an admirable manner.