Warning: Apple's new feature in its GarageBand app for the iPad may be habit-forming, creating a persistent and chronic time-suck that could swallow you whole.
It's called Jam Session, and allows up to four people to "play" their iPads -- or iPhones and iPod touches -- together over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and record songs.
When Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller unveiled the updated GarageBand app at the launch of the third-generation iPad in March, he introduced Jam Session in one of those we're-all-kids-at-heart moments that Apple orchestrates so well. He even called Jam Session "the best new feature" of the incredibly popular GarageBand suite.
For $4.99, it's downloadably yours. Musician or wannabe, it doesn't matter. With a bit of practice, Jam Session can make a recording star out of anybody. It's not perfect, and its smorgasbord of technical widgets can overwhelm. But it's still awesome, precisely because of that rich mother lode of audio possibilities.
You can record up to eight tracks on an endless menu of both simulated instruments and orchestral synthesizers, tweak the sound effects to your heart's content, then edit each track by cutting, looping or splitting them until you're practically channeling famed record producer Berry Gordy.