MIDI sounds penetrate mobile phones, ears ...

by Guy Kewney | posted on 03 December 2002

Next time someone's phone start playing a MIDI rendering of "My Way!" instead of just ringing, you will know who to blame ... it's Beatnik.

Guy Kewney

Both Sony-Ericsson and Nokia are now announced as the perpetrators of the trend to make phones play music - using the Beatnik Audio Engine. Beatnik, says founder Jeremy Copp, has been included on "over a million phones" mostly from Nokia, but with others queueing up to use his software.

<1/> Jeremy Copp

"We're in 15 phones on Nokia's web site, I just counted," said Copp. "It's not just our decision to promote scalable polyphony (SP) MIDI as a standard; it's also our vision of offering phone makers a range of features, so that the basic phones have basic music playing, and the more 'aspirational' models have more abilities up the range."

His next trick is to provide the audio engine (BAE) to Java-based phones; MobileBAE 1.1 is accessible to Java programmers and their phone applications, from games to business applications.

The clever thing is the ability, using another standard called Extensible Music Format -XMF - to download new instrument profiles to the phone. It means you can expect to get "sample" songs, complete with voice, in just a few kilobytes, because the voice can be sent as a MIDI extension.

Whether this is a good thing, especially if you leave your phone on in the cinema, remains to be seen. We recommend using the hands-free ear-plugs; or failing that, sending your letters of complaint to Beatnik itself. The Beatnik Web site doesn't accept angry phone calls ...