GarageBand for iPad
Play chords by strumming the touch screen, and switch notes with a touch of your finger. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Among all the exciting news at the iPad 2 event today, Apple announced that GarageBand will be coming to the iPad. Already a part of the Mac's iLife suite (latest update for Mac here), GarageBand lets you make music using prerecorded clips as well as your own real-time recordings to lay down multiple-track songs.

At the event, the director of music marketing for Apple, Xander Soren, gave a rundown of the main features for GarageBand on the iPad. It offers Touch Instruments, guitar amps and effects, eight-track recording and mixing, more than 250 loops to play with, and you can export an AAC file of your project through e-mail.

Soren demonstrated flipping through instruments, reminding us of the CoverFlow interface feature in iTunes. Once he selected a Piano, the keys filled the screen and Soren showed how the app uses note dynamics; using accelerometer technology, GarageBand is able to produce touch-sensitive sounds that detect the velocity of your finger as you play.

Soren then switched instruments, noting that each instrument has its own visual identity. Some instruments have unique touch-screen interfaces, such as the guitar, which gives you a strumming interface. You can even have GarageBand play through a chord progression where you pick the notes it will play. Soren referred to these handy interface tricks as "training wheels" for beginning musicians.

Just like the Mac version, you'll be able to see each track visually making it easy to fine tune each part of your songs.

Just like the Mac version of GarageBand, you'll also be able to record your own tracks straight into the iPad and then combine them with loops, other instruments, or whatever you want. You get a total of eight tracks to play with, and the layout is very similar to the Mac version.

Steve Jobs then came back on stage to say that GarageBand will be available at the iTunes App Store on March 11 for $4.99.

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.