Years ago, early in his professional DJ career, Algoriddim cofounder and CEO Karim Morsy found himself performing a set atop a castle tower on the Italian coast. Below him, a crowd danced in the ruins; before him streched a moonlit-drenched coastline and the Mediterranean Sea. “It was a pretty inspiring environment,” Morsy says, probably wildly underselling this.
Through their app djay, Morsy and Algoriddim have worked to recreate that live DJ experience for nearly 20 years. The best-in-class DJ app started life as boxed software for Mac; subsequent versions for iPad offered features like virtual turntables and beat matching. The app was a smashing success that won an Apple Design Award in both 2011 and 2016.
But Morsy says all that previous work was prologue to djay on the infinite canvas. “When we heard about Apple Vision Pro,” he says, “it felt like djay was this beast that wanted to be unleashed. Our vision — no pun intended — with Algoriddim was to make DJing accessible to everyone,” he says. Apple Vision Pro, he says, represents the realization of that dream. “The first time I experienced the device was really emotional. I wanted to be a DJ since I was a child. And suddenly here were these turntables, and the night sky, and the stars above me, and this light show in the desert. I felt like, ‘This is the culmination of everything. This is the feeling I’ve been wanting people to experience.’”
When we heard about Apple Vision Pro, it felt like djay was this beast that wanted to be unleashed.
Karim Morsy, Algoriddim cofounder and CEO
Getting to that culmination necessitated what Morsy calls “the wildest sprint of our lives.” With a 360-degree canvas to explore, the team rethought the entire process of how people interacted with djay. “We realized that with a decade of building DJ interfaces, we were taking a lot for granted,” he says. “So the first chunk of designing for Apple Vision Pro was going back to the drawing board and saying, ‘OK, maybe this made sense 10 years ago with a computer and mouse, but why do we need it now? Why should people have to push a button to match tempos — shouldn’t that be seamless?’ There was so much we could abstract away.”
They also thought about environments. djay offers a windowed view, a shared space that brings 3D turntables into your environment, and several forms of full immersion. The app first opens to the windowed view, which should feel familiar to anyone who’s spun on the iPad app: a simple UI of two decks. The volumetric view brings into your room not just turntables, but the app’s key moment: the floating 3D cube that serves as djay’s effects control pad.
But those immersive scenes are where Morsy feels people can truly experience reacting to and feeding off the environment. There’s an LED wall that reflects colors from the artwork of the currently playing song, a nighttime desert scene framed by an arena of lights, and a space lounge — complete with dancing robots — that offers a great view of planet Earth. The goal of those environments is to help create the “flow state” that’s sought by live DJs. “You want to get into a loop where the environment influences you and vice versa,” Morsy says.
In the end, this incredible use of technology serves a very simple purpose: interacting with the music you love. Morsy — a musician himself — points to a piano he keeps in his office. “That piano has had the same interface for hundreds of years,” he says. “That’s what we’re trying to reach, that sweet spot between complexity and ease of use. With djay on Vision Pro, it’s less about, ‘Let’s give people bells and whistles,’ and more, ‘Let’s let them have this experience.’”