Fellow music blogger, Ethan Hein has an excellent study of the ins and outs of Figure’s interface from a usability perspective.
Two interesting notes:
Part of the reason I moved from Reason to Ableton Live is that Ableton looks and works like a computer program. It has its own quirks, but at least everything on the screen has a function.
Figure has no skeuomorphism whatsoever. It’s all flat-colored polygons and large, friendly text. Everything on the screen is functional; nothing is decorative. Smartphone software forces these kinds of minimalist design choices just by virtue of their limited screen real estate, so iOS apps and mobile web sites tend to be easier on the brain than their desktop counterparts. Propellerhead took the mobile aesthetic and ran with it. Figure is their most attractive and least annoying product by a mile
I’ve said it before, that Ableton has a huge advantage in the mobile space, in that their app already looks like a 21st century mobile app. While many of the core iOS developers are struggling to bring their software “up” to a legitimate level (with a nod to Algoriddim, who has successfully marketed Djay as a competitor to novice apps like Virtual DJ), Ableton could stay the course and bring Live to a mobile device while maintaining many of the UI metaphors present in their desktop app.