M-Audio's new iControl (info in German at M-Audio; English analysis at createdigitalmusic) is hardware for controlling Apple's GarageBand music software. It's designed just for GarageBand, down to the fake wood-paneled sides of Apple's interface. Buttons let you set up playback and recording, a big jog wheel and transport controls lets you move around your song with ease, and physical knobs control track volume. Best of all, you can adjust individual track parameters like effects via custom buttons. It's all plug-and-play: connect via USB and GarageBand recognizes the device, no drivers required (thanks to USB class-compliance). Control surfaces have been tightly integrated with applications like this before, but usually on high-end boxes: M-Audio scores a first for an entry-level music interface. Expect a US price under $200.
What does this mean for the leaked Asteroid information that launched legal action by Apple? Not much: the Asteroid was an audio interface, whereas this box is just for control, not audio. That said, check the uncanny similarity to a user-created mockup of a GarageBand control surface posted here on Gizmodo during the flurry of Asteroid activity in November.
createdigitalmusic's Peter Kirn reports this week on hot new gear from Germany's Musikmesse conference; Europe's major music technology show.
Update: The English page is up now: Product Page [m-audio]