At it’s core Beatsurfing is a midi controller for iPad. With one big difference than most, you have complete control over the design, and can create this design on the iPad itself. This in itself is revolutionary.
Once you start editing your own scene, you are greeted by a menu with some basic shapes (Square, Circle, Line, and Slider). Tapping one of these invites you to tap anywhere on the screen to place one. This is very intuitive, and gets you right into editing. Once you place a shape you are given a few editing controls for color, rotation, size, layer depth, whether you want it on a grid or not, and duplicate. All of the controls feel very natural, and not too complicated. It never feels like you just opened a CAD application.
You can also set the properties of each shape once you have it placed, this is where things get really interesting. Each shape has basic midi options, like the channel or note that it will trigger. One very interesting thing you can do is detect direction, which will detect the direction if you are swiping across the element. This is great for getting some interesting patterns for percussion, reminiscent of the fish percussion instrument.
Another very dynamic and interesting thing you can do to each element is add behaviors, these change how the elements work when they are played, which is great because 3 of the 4 elements do quite a bit more than just a midi trigger. For example the circle element is like a sequencer, each time you tap on the circle it changes the selected slice on an outer ring, which triggers a different midi note.
One thing I felt a little constraining was the fact that I could only assign a successive note range, it would be very useful to be able to assign any midi note to an element that contains more than 1 trigger, instead of being locked into a range.
I successfully controlled Ableton Live via my IO Dock’s midi ports, and was able to control NLog Synth but I never did find an options menu to select network midi, wifi midi, etc.
Overall I found Beatsurfing very intuitive and easy to start building my own MIDI controller quickly on my iPad. I would recommend it to anyone looking to quickly be able to make new controllers with a hands on feel, without having to be tethered to their computer. I will say though, when writing this review the manual was still in progress, so some parts of the app were not super clear.