GarageBand for iOS gets an in-app instrument store and 80s-style drum machines

A fancy new iPhone’s as good a reason as any to bring a big upgrade to Apple’s free music production service, GarageBand. The iOS version of the app is getting a slew of updates for 2.3, starting with a layout optimized for the iPhone X’s 458 ppi display.

The biggest bit of news for today’s free upgrade, however, is the addition of Sound Library — a long awaited feature that finally makes GarageBand’s instrument selection much more dynamic. It’s essentially an app store located within the app, wherein you can can download additional Sound Packs — which are either instruments or groupings of instruments like “Percussionists” or “Rock Drummers.”

All of the additional downloads are free, but the idea is to offer new sounds without ballooning the amount of space the application takes up on the phone. Today’s download brings a number of new instrument offerings into the fold, including Beat Sequencer, a new way to create electronic and old school hip-hop beats in a glowing neon interface that takes a page out of the instruction manual of classic drum machines like Roland’s 808.

That looks to be one of the more fun additions, particularly for fiddlers who aren’t exactly professional musicians. It also brings to mind Roli’s Noise app, which takes advantage of the touchscreen in similar ways. The app will also be getting a number of different percussion packages, offering drumbeats in Pop, Latin and Songwriter styles.

The company recently found some global success with the addition of Asian instruments initially targeted at the Chinese market, so it’s adding a few more view the Sound Library this time out. The stringed Koto and Taiko Drums have been added from Japan, along with China’s Guzheng. All offer the ability to keep things to strictly defined scales, so users should be able to create listenable sounds on the thing without any pre-knowledge of the instrument.

Apple plans to continuously roll out new Sound Packs, between app updates, indicating new content with a notification dot in the Sound Library.