Every year Apple conducts an award ceremony during its annual developer conference, called WWDC where it rewards apps for design considering from all over the world. After the assessment, 12 apps are chosen for the award. In WWDC 2021 for this year, an app developer from India has won the design award. The app is NaadSadhna, an app for Hindustani classical music, which was acknowledged under the new Innovation award category because of its state-of-the-art experience with the novel use of Apple technologies. That the list of winners includes an Indian classical musical app is a proud day for all Indians. Sandeep Ranade, a software engineer by core, who had earlier worked with companies like Google and Microsoft is behind this award-winning app ‘NaadSadhana’ that was honored by Apple itself before the whole world.
Apple deemed NaadSadhana as an ‘”all-in-one, a studio-quality music app that helps musicians of all genres and any expertise perform and publish their music without boundaries.” NaadSadhna had originally started out as a platform to rehearse classical music but then expanded itself to more genres such as Hindustani Classical, semi-Classical, Devotional, Carnatic, Western, Light / Bollywood, as well as Fusion. The tech giant Apple announced 12 winners of its annual award which involved six categories namely interaction, innovation, visual and graphics, inclusivity, delight and fun, and social impact. The app developed by Ranade assists musicians of all genres and any expertise present and publish their music without any barriers. After first starting tune as an application in order to practice Indian classical songs, NaadSadhana built itself to sustain seven different genres of music.
The application does intense real-time tune processing that includes music detection Raga creativity AI, Taal aesthetics AI, AI, synthesizing or simulating sounds for realistic instruments, analyzing music ( that is, notes, phrases, layakari, raga, bandish, volume modulation, modality, mukhada, etc). Ranade attended his first WWDC in 2019 and told the media that the Apple Design Awards ‘felt like Oscars Award Ceremony.’ He stated after winning the award this year, “I have been pinching myself now and again to try and convince myself this is really happening. This is a huge honor for me as a solo software engineer.” Ranade saud that he couldn’t believe it when he was announced as the winner of the Apple event. NaadSadhana, as per Ranade, helps musicians to make “magic by making effective use of artificial intelligence, neuroscience, learning theory, digital signal processing, and novel research.”
“Imagine an app that can play music like an expert, respond to your music intelligently, creatively and aesthetically, record and mix multiple tracks, and even guide your notes and tempo.NaadSadhana helps musicians make magic by making effective use of artificial intelligence, neuroscience, learning theory, digital signal processing, and novel research… In my song ‘Na Corona Karo’, NaadSadhana accompanied me on 10 instruments, in real-time,” the app’s creator wrote on his website for the app. Popular singer and songwriter AR Rahman has also appreciated Ranade’s creation by sharing the news on Twitter when Ranade had been declared a finalist for the award. Ranade shared on social media that AR Rahman had earlier backed his Na Corona song that had been created using the NaadSadhna app.
Ranade told the IANS how Apple helped his music app grow in the last few years, stating that the company called him out of the blue around two and a half years ago as they considered his app quite interesting. Then they came to know his app and helped him in his journey immensely. He also highlighted the fact that it was Apple who connected him to the Engineering team that helped in improving the design of NaadSadhana, contributing to its overall user experience. “They (Apple) connected me with Apple Engineering when I had questions or bugs to report, they arranged for interviews with the press. As a solo developer, there’s no team who can appreciate my work, but Apple not only appreciated my work but also my music. It was a really warm and touching feeling. I also got to attend WWDC 19 and meet with many dozens of Apple teams.
I got my questions answered and got valuable feedback on how to make the app even better,” the award-winning developer added in an interview. NaadSadhna is the second Indian app up until now to win the Apple Design Award and certainly the first one based on Indian classical music. The first Indian app that won the Apple Design Award was back in 2018 and its name was Calzy 3, developed by a Chennai based developer named Raja Vijayaraman. Ranade says that NaadSadhna continues to be an iOS exclusive app as no other device can offer such a low-latency audio stack as well as so many building blocks for neural networks, complex audio processing, analysis, etc. Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations Susan Prescott stated, “This year’s Apple Design Award winners have redefined what we’ve come to expect from a great app experience, and we congratulate them on a well-deserved win.
The work of these developers embodies the essential role apps and games play in our everyday lives, and serves as perfect examples of our six new award categories.” Ranade has also created viral songs with the help of NaadSadhna, some of which are ‘Na Corona Karo’, ‘Anand Barasao’, and an optimized 15-minute vocal workout termed as ‘NaadYoga’. Along with a brilliant software engineer, Sandeep Ranade is also a singer, composer, and educator as well as a student of Late Padma-Vibhushan Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj, who taught and performed musicians worldwide. The Apple acclaimed app NaadSadhna began its journey after one of Ranade’s music students faced issues with comprehending musical notes when she was practicing alone.
Ranade observed that she had no mechanism for course correction when she rehearsed by herself and concluded that her student needed an application that can guide her path and improve her notes. Since there were no such accurate vocal timers available on the App Store at the time, Ranade decided to build one. And that’s how the seed for NaadSadhna was sowed. Ranade told in an interview about this student of his. “Couple of months later, she started using the app, and her score went from a very poor score to a consistent 80% in two weeks, because the app literally rewired her brain. From there, I started working on other problems of accompaniment, perfecting notes and tempo, studio-quality recording, etc.” Ranade has plans for the future. He wants to add as many instruments in NaadSadhna as possible, such as styles, intelligence, ragas, taals, genres, as well as capacities to the app to offer a much better user experience.
“It’s really an infinite amount of work left to be done,” he added. Ranade told the paparazzi that the move of Apple cutting the App store fee to half has helped a majority of developers like him to focus just on developing apps solely. “The entire ecosystem, developer tools, payments processing, app distribution, and much more is seamlessly and painlessly taken care of, meaning I can spend most of my time focusing on my work.” Some of the other categories of Apple Awards for this year included delight and fun, visual and graphics, interaction, inclusivity, and more importantly social impact. “Winners in this category provide a state-of-the-art experience through a novel use of Apple technologies that set them apart in their genre,” Apple responded.