Under The Microscope

Five Good Looking Years

As some folks know, Rogue Amoeba is a distributed company, with home offices around the globe. This has both upsides and downsides, and it leads us to work hard to make the company feel like a cohesive group. Part of that is taking time to celebrate major releases and anniversaries. As readers of this site may recall, one big anniversary we celebrate is five years with the company. Previously, Mike Ash, Jeff Johnson, and Lee Falin all reached that mark, and were properly feted. Now, it’s Christa Mrgan’s turn!

Christa joined us back in October of 2009, as our first full-time designer. When we started the company, we used various part-timers for our art needs. As we grew, we realized we needed more, and eventually we sought out someone to work with us full-time. Unfortunately, we had a run of prospects who simply didn’t work out.

I had first met Christa at WWDC in 2009, and we hit it off as friends. After repeatedly bemoaning our troubles in finding a suitable designer with her, we eventually realized that, hey, she ought to give it a shot. More than five years later, it’s clear this was the right call. In ways both big and small, Christa has touched almost every single thing we make here at Rogue Amoeba. She’s done touch-up work on older apps, and full designs for newer apps, and all of our apps are better for it. There’s lots more to come, too, with some major updates including improved designs coming in the next year.

Piezo and the Braun RT-20

One of Christa’s best designs can be found in Piezo, our charmingly simple audio recording tool. Piezo was made to be very simple to set up, with one big record button and not much else, and it certainly succeeds in the ease-of-use department. However, its interface and corresponding icon also look great, featuring subtle wood grains and other textures. Even after the skeuomorphic trend has passed, Piezo still holds up well.

Christa did a lot of research finding reference images for old stereo equipment. As Christa noted in her Piezo design review from 2012, perhaps the most relevant hardware found was the Braun RT-20 radio. You can read more about that radio thanks to Australia’s Powerhouse Museum.

The RT-20 hasn’t been made for decades, but I knew this would be a great gift for Christa. Thankfully, the Internet makes it possible to track down things like this. After I hunted down and acquired an RT-20 to match Piezo, Quentin did some work in restoring it.

Christa's Braun RT-20

The controls are all in German, but it works! It sounds great, and it looks even better. We hope it enjoys pride of place in the Mrgan household for many years to come. As Christa’s Instagram photo indicates, she was delighted:

…[C]heck this out: a vintage Braun RT-20 radio, which inspired the design of Piezo, the first product I designed from inception at Rogue Amoeba. PLUS a special challenge coin for the RA elite (5 years!) Many thanks to [Paul] for hunting it down, and to Quentin for restoring it. And to both, for a job I enjoy doing!

Thanks for Five Great Years and More to Come

So then, allow us to issue a public thank you to Christa for her great work in the past half-decade! We look forward to the future as well, with many exciting new products and updates in the pipeline, all with your mark upon them.

P.S. Now Hiring

This also seems like a great place to mention that we’re currently hiring. While Christa handles all our current design needs, we do have an opening for a Cocoa developer. If you’re interested to join us in making top-notch audio products used by Mac users the world over, we’d love to hear from you.

You can get the full details on our Jobs page. Apply now!

Capture Phone Relay Audio From FaceTime With Audio Hijack Pro

Audio Hijack Pro IconWe’ve just posted an update to Audio Hijack Pro with a handful of small fixes. However, in addition to those improvements, there’s one major update worth mentioning specifically for users on Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite). With the latest update, Audio Hijack Pro can now assist you in recording phone calls placed with your iPhone!

The combination of Yosemite and iOS 8.1 on the iPhone now offer a function called Phone Relay.1 Using Phone Relay, you can use your Mac to make and receive phone calls. That’s very handy on its own, but adding Audio Hijack Pro to the mix makes it even better. By setting FaceTime as the source in Audio Hijack Pro, you can record those calls for later reference!2

ALT NAME

Audio Hijack Pro recording a Phone Relay call via FaceTime

We’ve had a lot of requests for this, and starting with version 2.11.4, we’re delighted to make it possible! Whether you’re working on a phone-based podcast interview, saving a conversation for later transcription, or anything else, using Audio Hijack Pro with Phone Relay makes it a snap to get a copy of your audio.

So if you’ve ever wished you could record calls from your iPhone, you’re now in luck! Just grab the latest Audio Hijack Pro from our site, or if you’re already a user, just select “Check for Update” from the Audio Hijack Pro menu. Happy recording!


Footnotes:

  1. 9to5Mac has a great overview of Phone Relay.

  2. People are sometimes unclear on the legality of call recording, but in most places it is entirely legal. In the United States, you’re always allowed to record your own calls, though you may also be required to inform the other parties on the line that you’re recording. You’ll want to research the laws in your area.

Here’s to You, Macworld

After the Apple festivities of Tuesday, yesterday brought some much more somber news. It seems the physical Macworld magazine will cease publication, and Macworld.com will be run with a greatly-reduced staff. There’s not even an official announcement on this, but many now-former Macworld staffers have tweeted about their layoffs, and former editor-in-chief Jason Snell has posted his own related news. Ultimately, nearly all of the folks we’ve interacted with at Macworld have been let go from the company.

This is a sad day. Macworld has been a staple of the past thirty years even as the publishing industry contracted. It will be very strange indeed to no longer find the magazine in print. And while Macworld.com will live on, and perhaps even remain great under the direction of Chris Breen, it has lost nearly all of the people who provided top-notch writing, reviews, and in-depth coverage. This was some of the best writing and reporting in the Apple industry, and it will be sorely missed.

Rogue Amoeba has had far too many friends at Macworld magazine to properly list them all. Way back at Macworld Expo San Francisco in 2004, Jim Dalrymple awarded Nicecast with a Best of Show award. Dan Frakes twice awarded Airfoil with a stellar 4.5 mouse rating. Dan Moren, Chris Breen, Jason Snell, Serenity Caldwell, and many more said kind things, recommended our work, and even presented us with three Editor’s Choice awards. It’s impossible to express how incredibly gratifying it was to have our work honored by people we respect so deeply. Every time our name was mentioned in print or on the web site, it really was a thrill.

For years, Macworld set the standard for Mac journalism, and the volume of talent that is presently unemployed is simply obscene. There’s little doubt that these talented folks will quickly find new opportunities. I only hope that many of them will remain in the Apple space, so that we can continue to benefit from their work for years to come.

A Slew of Updates for Yosemite

Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) IconAs you may be aware, the next version of your Mac’s operating system is coming soon. Mac OS X 10.10, also known as “Yosemite”, is due to be released sometime this fall. However, in a departure from their traditional method of releasing the OS to the public, Apple has just opened up a Public Beta program. Through this program, users can get early access to a not-yet-final version of the operating system.

Waiting until the official Yosemite release in the fall is likely to be the best bet for the majority of users. Because the operating system is a beta, and not yet complete, there are likely to be more bugs and problems than usual. Further, it’s likely that some of the third-party applications you use won’t yet be updated for perfect functionality in the new OS.

However, we know that some of our users will want to run Yosemite as soon as possible. We’ve been running it on test machines since it was first provided by Apple back in June, and working to get our software functioning smoothly with it. Fortunately, we’ve managed to work out the kinks we’ve found. That means that at this time, our current releases all offer initial compatibility with Yosemite. We’re very pleased about that!

While several of our apps were already working just fine with Yosemite, we’ve just posted fresh updates to Airfoil, Audio Hijack Pro, Intermission, Nicecast, and Piezo. Be sure you’ve got the very latest by choosing “Check for Update” from within the app. Alternately, if you’re doing a fresh install, just grab the download from the relevant page on our site.

Airfoil For Mac Icon Audio Hijack Pro Icon Intermission Icon Nicecast Icon Piezo Icon

These updates aren’t yet perfect, and we will of course be issuing additional updates. Most notably, you may see some visual glitches. As well, if you purchased Piezo from the Mac App Store, that update is still pending, as it waits to be approved by Apple. Finally, on Yosemite, Piezo is not able to capture audio from Apple’s FaceTime or Messages apps. We’re still investigating that issue, but suggest you use Audio Hijack Pro if you need to capture audio from those applications.

All that said, we’ve used the applications extensively on the new OS, we’re confident they work well. We still encourage you to wait for the official release to update your OS, but if you choose to run Yosemite, be sure to let us know of any major issues you find with our apps. As always, you can also track our status page for the most up-to-date information on compatibility with the new OS.

Intermission 1.1 Brings Big Improvements

Intermission IconIn September of last year, we unveiled our newest app, Intermission. With Intermission, you can pause and rewind live audio on your Mac. That means you can pause any audio while you take a call, answer the door, or use the restroom. You can even pause streaming audio on services like Pandora and Spotify to build a buffer, then skip right past the ads and songs you don’t want to hear! If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.

We’ve been working hard on enhancing the underpinnings of Intermission, and we’re pleased to release version 1.1 today. This update brings several key improvements. First, Intermission has been heavily optimized, reducing its energy usage dramatically. Mother Earth will thank you for updating!

In addition, we’ve improved the way Intermission handles audio. Previously, Intermission could introduce a small amount of latency in live playback. Now, because Intermission removes itself from the audio pipeline entirely during live playback, it causes no latency at all. While this change was extremely complex to implement, the updated design is cleaner and better all around.

Finally, we’ve improved the way Intermission works with higher-end mixers and multi-channel audio output devices. During live playback, Intermission will no longer interfere with these devices in any way, which is a very good thing. Further, all non-stereo audio output devices (such as those higher-end mixers and more) will now also work better with Intermission when it’s playing back non-live audio.

All in all, Intermission should now work flawlessly with far more setups. Couple all that with a myriad of other fixes including improvements with Fast User Switching, and you’ve got a great overall improvement.

Get It Now

If you’ve already got Intermission you can update immediately from the Preferences window. Just click the “Check for Update” button to get the latest. You can also download it directly, of course.

If you’re new to Intermission read all about on the Intermission page, then grab the free trial to take it for a test drive.