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Schiller, developer trade barbs over Airfoil Speakers Touch

updated 03:28 pm EDT, Fri June 8, 2012

Both parties deny any wrongdoing

Developer Rogue Amoeba and Apple's senior VP for worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, are levelling accusations at each other in the wake of Airfoil Speakers Touch returning to the App Store without iOS-to-iOS streaming, reports say. The chain began when a customer, Kevin Starbird, emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook on the matter. Instead, Schiller answered. "Thank you for your email and question about this application," the response begins. "The story as I understand it is simple, and not accurately recounted on Rogue Amoeba's website."

"Rogue Amoeba's app added a feature that accessed encrypted AirPlay audio streams without using approved APIs or a proper license and in violation of Apple's agreements," Schiller continues. "Apple asked Rogue Amoeba to update their app to remain in compliance with our terms and conditions.

"Your assumptions as to Apple's motives [selling AirPlay-licensed speakers and the AirPort Express] and actions are simply not correct. We have an Airplay licensing program explicitly to assist companies in creating AirPlay capable products. Apple never said that we would pull the rug out from anyone, we in fact worked with this developer to ensure they update their app and remain on the App Store."

Rogue Amoeba has issued a series of counterpoints. Regarding the allegation that the iOS-to-iOS feature used unapproved APIs, the developer states that "there are no APIs, approved or otherwise, to enable the functionality Airfoil Speakers Touch provided. All the code used to receive AirPlay-compatible audio was written internally by Rogue Amoeba."

About licensing, the company says that "there exists no 'proper license' to provide the functionality Airfoil Speakers Touch offered. While Apple licenses the ability for hardware manufacturers to play AirPlay audio, there is no such licensing program for software. When we inquired as to the possibility of this type of licensing being available for software manufacturers in the future, we were informed that it was unlikely."

Finally, the firm denies that it has violated any Apple agreements. "As we wrote previously, Apple has told us there is no specific rule or provision that Airfoil Speakers Touch violated, beyond simply being something that Apple does not wish to have in the store. We steadfastly stand by our statement that Airfoil Speakers Touch violated no part of our agreements with Apple.

"Finally, Mr. Schiller states that we accessed 'encrypted AirPlay audio streams', and seems to imply that this is somehow inappropriate. Quite simply, it is not. While there are multiple layers of encryption involved in the AirPlay audio streaming protocol, their primary purpose appears to be preventing third parties from building applications which interoperate with AirPlay.

"Thankfully, reverse engineering devices and protocols for the purpose of interoperability is a time-honored, and legally sound, tradition. It is, among other things, largely responsible for the PC revolution and the computing landscape we enjoy today. Should we stop providing users with products that work together simply because other vendors dislike competition?"

Apple is known to regularly block apps which attempt to expand on the core features of iOS. It is also regularly accused of pulling apps which compete with its own plans, though there has been no indication that native iOS-to-iOS streaming is coming. Many rejections are based simply on security issues, which things like third-party APIs may represent.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Gazoobee

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple FTW

    Rogue Amoeba just looks stupid here IMO. They even prove some of Schiller's allegations in their own response.

    To wit, they admit asking if there was a licence available for what they wanted to do and being told that no there wasn't and there wasn't going to be. They actually argue that this *lack* of a licence is what gives them the right to go ahead anyway.

    In regards the encryption, they argue (paraphrased) that "lots of stuff is encrypted" and that they believe that (again paraphrased) "the encryption was only there to stop people like us from doing what we did."

    I mean seriously ... WTF? Is Rogue Amoeba drunk with power or something? To make a dumbass move is one thing but to double-down on your mistake in public and publish this ridiculous "defence" is pure idiocy.

  1. chas_m



    Completely agreed

    I think it's pretty obvious that they either use the illegally-distributed cracked encryption key or cracked it themselves. I love this company's products but have lost a LOT of respect for them over this.

  1. benjitek

    Joined: Dec 1969


    c*** App

    Regardless of who said or did what, I only wish it had happened before I purchased the product. Couldn't get it to work consistently, and when it did work, the audio quality was terrible. Because it was promoted as utilizing AirPlay, I assumed the streaming quality would be excellent -- didn't turn out to be the case. I can totally see why Apple wouldn't want their name associated with this product.

  1. apple4ever

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You guys are crazy. APPLE looks bad here, not Rogue Amoeba. RA released an app that added some much needed functionality- and Apple just didn't like it. RA broke no rules, and did nothing bad.

    Apple is CLEARLY in the wrong here.

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