Under The Microscope

Patience Is A Virtue

Since the day the iPhone was released, people have been clamoring for it to do more. The iPhone really is a handheld computer, running mobile OS X, so why can’t it do everything a Mac does? After it was broken open, plenty of applications were developed for it in a very short time. While nearly all of these applications were small and often little more than tech demos, it’s obviously fertile new ground for software development.

After their initial dodge on applications for the iPhone, Apple rapidly changed course, promising an SDK by February. An SDK means that third party developers will have a sanctioned way of getting onto the iPhone. We don’t know the specifics, but this is obviously a positive step.

A few intrepid developers have continued to work on hacked iPhones, but for our part, we’ve been content to work on other things while waiting for the official SDK to arrive. Of course, that hasn’t stopped users from asking for (and at times, demanding) software for the iPhone. To be sure, the iPhone will be an exciting new place to develop and we intend to be there. The SDK is set to arrive shortly, and when it does, we’ll begin examining it and seeing what we can add to the iPhone. We’ve got some ideas already:

Airfoil Speakers for iPhone
Airfoil Speakers currently runs on Macs and Windows, turning it in to a virtual AirPort Express. This enables you to send music out from one machine to others on your local network. When running on an iPhone, it would effectively turn it into a walking AirPort Express. This makes for a very nice demo, enhances Airfoil’s value, and would certainly be useful in plenty of situations – I know I want it for myself. Perhaps best of all, it should be one of the easier applications to bring over to the iPhone.

Airfoil for iPhone
Users have oft requested the ability to send audio from the iPhone out to the AirPort Express as well as Apple TV and Airfoil Speakers on Mac and Windows. It actually took me awhile to cross the Getting It Gap with this. If you’re at home, why not just transmit audio with computer to which the iPhone is connected? That machine holds all your music, not just 8 Gigs worth, and you can couple it with an iTunes remote.

Quentin finally explained it in a way that made sense to me – picture the newest iPhone in 24, maybe 48 months. It’s likely to hold all your music and if all your music is in your pocket, why not control everything from there? There are worries here about battery life, as well as how we’ll access the wi-fi and music, but it’s definitely worth investigating.

Those will be the first two applications we’ll be considering and they’ll likely take some time. There are likely to be plenty of additional opportunities, however. What do you want to see Rogue Amoeba develop for the iPhone?

16 Responses to “Patience Is A Virtue”

  1. Jack Foster Mancilla says:

    It would be very cool for a miniature audioHijack to be able to record both sides of a conversation. …

  2. Colter Reed says:

    At work, I have my audio on the phone, and that’s it. I’d love to be able to use Airfoil for iPhone to play any audio through Airfoil Speakers running on the work desktop.

  3. Jose Vazquez says:

    It seems to me that what you really want is an iTunes remote control on the iPhone. That way, The iPhone can connect wirelessly to the home computer, view the list of all available songs (whether it as local copies or not) and tell the computer to play this or that. The computer would then play (perhaps via AirFoil) and the iPhone itself does not need to drain it’s own batteries streaming music. Extra bonus if you manage to remap the volume controls on a “sleeping” iPhone to control the volume on the wireless system without waking up the iPhone itself. sorta like you can change volume while playing music locally while the iPhone sleeps.

  4. Mr. Make Believe says:

    I would love to see Airfol Speakers work under Windows CE 5.0 so it can be used with, for example the Iaudio Q5.

    When you are programming Airfol to work with the apple Iphone, I guess it wouldn’t be hard to make it work with the itouch? It would make me buy a itouch as soon as te capacity is somewhere around the 80 GB

    For years I’ve been looking for a way to stream music from a portable MP3 player to my home stereo. Since the MP3 players these days can contain large amounts of music and they would function excellent as a remote, it would be great to stream music from the plaer directly to a stereo throug a airport. No need to swich on a computer or a TV.. Too bad years have passed and there still isn’t a way to do this properly.

  5. Mike Krus says:

    I’d really like to be able to stream audio from any app to non-Airtunes devices, maybe producing a simple mp3 stream

  6. asw says:

    stream from iPhone to Airport Express would be a dream come true.

    i’m often at a friend’s house and want to play a song for them off my iphone or ipod. to do so, you need to connect through the 1/8″ jack which can be a surprising pain in the butt if someone’s system isn’t setup for that. it kills any spontaneity of “check this tune out!”

    iPhone > airport/mac would be amazing for this.

  7. Paul says:

    Jack Foster Mancilla: The likelihood of being able to access this audio is probably pretty slim but we’ll definitely see. Another issue there is one of legality – recording conversations requires consent of all parties in 12 states in the US, and probably other countries as well. Of course, that’s not a technical issue.

    Colter Reed, asw: Right, that’s the idea of Airfoil for iPhone

    Jose Vazquez: Right, that was my thinking – see the link to Alloysoft’s Signal. We won’t be making remote software, as others can do that better. But I think Airfoil for the iPhone would still be useful for many cases.

    Mr. Make Believe: As far as Win CE goes, we’ll see what happens in the future. As for iPhone apps, they should run on the iPod touch as well, with no additional work. We’ll see if that’s actually the case, but it’s a reasonable assumption for now.

    Mike Krus: “Any app” on the iPhone? What are you envisioning here? Currently, the only app that really plays audio is the iPod portion.

    Or are you talking about on Mac OS X, on your Mac? If so, have a look at Nicecast, which lets you turn any audio into an MP3 stream.

  8. Eric says:

    A voice note recorder would be nice to have. A voice recorder with which I could do a wee bit of basic editing and uploading to a blog would be great for audio blogging.

  9. Marco Cesetti says:

    I’m very glad to see that you’re already considering to create an airfoil for the ipod touch.

    Waiting the SDK release and your software, I continue to dream earing my music with ipod touch on home stereo through airport express.

    Best wishes
    Marco Cesetti

  10. Erik says:

    I love you guys! Pleeeeeeease give us an airfoil for the Iphone!!!

  11. Erik A. says:

    I think this is currently a great product with great future potential as well. I am interested to see how the iPhone SDK limitations of running only 1 application at a time effects development.

  12. Erko says:

    I can only repeat this:

    “I love you guys! Pleeeeeeease give us an airfoil for the Iphone!!!”

  13. Tim says:

    airfoil for iphone/touch!!!!! you have a great product and now that the SDK is out, this would give me a HUGE reason to purchase another itouch or get my wife the iphone!!!

    please, airfoil for iphone/itouch!!!!!

  14. Sean R. says:

    “I am interested to see how the iPhone SDK limitations of running only 1 application at a time effects development.”

    Just to clarify – does iPhone/iTouch only run one application at a time? Or do the others run in the background the way they do on WM/PPC devices? I am actually holding off on buying an iTouch until there is more capacity and an Airfoil available.

  15. David says:

    Do we have any news on that? I hope you are working on that since it’s the most demanded iphone/ipod touch app by now!

    Still waiting … :-)

  16. Paul Kafasis says:

    Only one application runs at a time, there is no background processing.

    As for Airfoil for the iPhone, at this time, we have no plans for it. Unfortunately, Apple’s SDK precludes us from getting any access to audio on the device, and because they’re the exclusive way of getting software onto the device, we’re stuck playing by their limiting rules. Hopefully, this will change, but currently, we have no way of making Airfoil for the iPhone.


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