Jam with Chrome music app moves band practice online

Google has introduced an experimental Web app called Jam with Chrome that allows friends to play and create music together online from different locations.

The app is designed to work with Google’s Chrome browser and uses HTML5 features such as Web Audio API, Websockets, Canvas and CSS3 to showcase the capabilities on Web-based app. You will be able to access it from other browsers, but some features might not be available.

Jam with Chrome has a selection of 19 different instruments, from acoustic and bass guitars to drum kits and keyboards. Once you get jamming, you can switch between instruments and invite up to three friends to join your session. Think of it as you virtual garage to practice with your band.

It’s not difficult to get going in Jam with Chrome if you haven’t played an instrument before. The default easy mode allows you to click on individual strings, drum pads or keys, with four different autoplay functions for most instruments, including the beat machines. The pro mode allows you play any instrument using the keyboard, with keys assigned for each string. Jam with Chrome is not optimized for touch devices.

Although it’s fun and easy to use, Jam with Google is no simple technical feat. Under the hood it uses the Web Audio API, which creates combinations of sound via the browser instead of individual audio streams for each player, as well as Websockets, which is used to allow for the real-time interaction between users.

But the wider purpose of Jam with Chrome is for Google to make the case for computing inside the browser. Chromebooks, light laptops running the browser-based Chrome OS, are one of Google’s propositions for replacing traditional notebooks, but they lack the capability to install apps outside the browser, so more capable Web apps are meant to fill the gap.

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