Under The Microscope

Apple Has Removed Airfoil Speakers Touch From The iOS App Store

Update (June 6th, 2012): We do have some definitive answers, though not great news, discussed in this post.

Since 2009, Airfoil Speakers Touch has made it possible to send audio from your Mac or Windows machine to your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, using Airfoil and its audio streaming capability. Last month, we introduced Airfoil Speakers Touch 3, which added the ability to receive audio directly from other iOS devices, as well as iTunes. Users and reviewers alike have loved Airfoil Speakers Touch, particularly the new version. For our part, we’ve been thrilled to be able to provide this much-desired functionality.

Today, we’ve been informed that Apple has removed Airfoil Speakers Touch from the iOS App Store.1 We first heard from Apple about this decision two days ago, and we’ve been discussing the pending removal with them since then. However, we still do not yet have a clear answer on why Apple has chosen to remove Airfoil Speakers Touch. Needless to say, we’re quite disappointed with their decision, and we’re working hard to once again make the application available for you, our users.

As far as we can tell, Airfoil Speakers Touch is in full compliance with Apple’s posted rules and developer agreements. We’ve already filed an appeal with Apple’s App Review Board, and we’re awaiting further information. Unfortunately, Apple has full control of application distribution on iOS, leaving us with no other recourse here.

As some users may recall, we have been through this before, with Airfoil Speakers Touch no less. We hope to be able to resolve things in similar fashion, and once again provide you with this top-notch tool.


Footnotes:

1. We have not recently submitted a new version for approval, so this removal was not connected to any pending review caused by an update. Indeed, the removed version (3.0.0) already went through the review process, and was approved back in April. Further, Airfoil Speakers Touch has been repeatedly approved by Apple’s review process since its introduction way back in 2009. 

44 Responses to “Apple Has Removed Airfoil Speakers Touch From The iOS App Store”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Apple is going to include a similar streaming feature in iOS 6 and iTunes 11, so they pulled your app for being too similar to the future feature.

    Disappointing though for many reasons, but purely from a customer standpoint because not everyone will be able to upgrade to iOS 6 or iTunes 11, or want to…

    In any case, hopefully they put AirFoil back online soon.

  2. Brian says:

    Too bad … I’m glad I still have a copy in my iTunes library. I suspect this may have something to do with the iOS 6 beta coming up at WWDC. Apple introducing new AirPlay functionality that makes this “duplicate”??

  3. sponplat says:

    Can’t you put the app up on a Cydia repo in the meantime?

  4. Michael Brown says:

    @sponplat put the app on Cydia? I’m sure that would really help their relationship with Apple.

  5. Jeffrey Goldberg says:

    As others have suggested, I think that this is advanced notice of being Sherlocked. Except that the “too similar” rule also applies to iOS.

    But I hope that it is instead of technical glitch that can be overcome easily.

  6. LD says:

    Bummer. Glad I got it before it was pulled. It’s a useful feature that was missing. I suspect, as others above have, that iOS 6 will have this feature. Still feels like you are getting screwed, especially since it does more than simply receive AirPlay audio.

  7. cremes says:

    It’s nonsense like this Apple bullshit that bolsters my desire to drop the platform altogether.

  8. MVeeH says:

    ‘Sherlocked’? Aren’t we past the entire ‘duplicat functionality’ bull crap?

    Besides, that is a pretty terrible excuse even if it’s true. If Apple is going to pull apps which have been around for years when they make their own version, everyone is in trouble.

    I love this app and I’m glad I got my copy already. Apple, this is weak sauce!!

  9. SSteve says:

    “As far as we can tell, Airfoil Speakers Touch is in full compliance with Appleā€™s posted rules and developer agreements.”

    But you have obviously violated the mysterious and inscrutable UNposted rules. Dean Wormer has put you on double-secret probation.

  10. Threepwood says:

    Odd timing on Apple’s part, even if they are about to “Sherlock” you. I suppose this would keep people from asking for refunds when built-in functionality is available for free.

    Native OSX -> AirPlay functionality would be nice, though.

  11. TWAndrews says:

    Man, fuck Apple. Someone needs to file an anti-trust suit.

  12. What Haveyou says:

    Typical Apple bullshit.

  13. Michael A. says:

    Blunt question: did Rogue Amoeba license Airplay from Apple or are you using the reverse-engineered key? It isn’t hard to imagine Apple having a problem with the latter, especially since you’re making money off the feature.

    Nothing excuses Apple’s bad handling of the situation or lack of communication, but it would explain their dislike for it.

  14. Samuraiartguy says:

    “Apple does not comment on unreleased products”

    You know, I’ve heard that someplace. Haven’t we been HERE before?

  15. JC says:

    I wondered if RA was using a hack of AirPlay to get it to work that way too. Do they pay the AirPlay licensing fees like the manufacters of AirPlay speakers/receivers?

  16. Fofer says:

    I grabbed it earlier too, but because the most compelling feature, that of native AirPlay, was an in-app purchase, does this mean we won’t be able to reinstall the purchased app, and this feature, on any new devices?

    if so, this doubly sucks.

  17. Devin says:

    Airfoil Speakers Touch is detected as an Airport Express… given that the Airport Express private key was the one that was discovered by reading a flash chip from an AX, it seems likely that RA was using this key for AST. A licensed Airplay device shows up as an Airplay Speaker or something.

    Probably wasn’t caught by the initial reviewer, because you’d need a pretty deep understanding to appreciate what must be going on behind the scenes. I’d guess it was noticed by an Apple engineer later on, hence the late rejection. Incidentally, I love the idea of this and bought the add-on right away, but if it’s unlicensed, I can see why Apple yanked it (not fair to those who did license it).

    FWIW, after this came out, I tried using airplay directly instead of airfoil seeing as there would be less pieces involved. It doesn’t work as well for me. Somehow (for me) airfoil does a better job staying in sync than airplay, and I’d switched back even before this news.

  18. Don D says:

    I love Apple, but the reason I started using stuff from Rogue Amoeba is because it works so much better than any similar software Apple may offer. For example, AirTunes on the desktop is total crap compared to AirFoil. So, I am concerned about the precedent Apple may be setting here. Fight the good fight guys!

  19. Farhad says:

    Ugh. I have more apple products than I care to mention, but things like this make we root for Android and others, and remind me that monopolies are always bad. Even if they want to provide something similar, it should compete with 3rd party offerings (it already has a huge advantage). Very lame. Best wishes for you all.

  20. Aleks says:

    I’m a big Apple fan but sometimes I really hate them for being ignorant and intolerant. I mean: If they really have to pull an app from the App Store why not contact the developer in advance and tell them why they’re going to pull it? That should be the least thing one could expect.

  21. Mike says:

    For what it’s worth, those of us on Android (many of us there because of anti-consumer stunts like this) would love some attention! A remote app to turn on/off various zones would be great if you’re looking for something to do in mobile.

    On a serious note, I do hope you guys get this worked out. That’s time and money of yours on the line if Apple persists in their tantrum. Love me some Airfoil and want to see it succeed on all fronts.

  22. dave says:

    considering that RA have offered Airplay emulation through Airfoil prior to the leaked key, it’s reasonable to assume that they reverse-engineered the encryption on their own and/or have their own implementation.

    disappointing, but expected from Apple. for better or worse, that’s the danger in doing business in their App Store.

  23. Common Sense says:

    Has anyone hear heard of DRM? Perhaps the concept of person A listening to person B’s music without having person A also pay for that music has something to do with this.

  24. rapo says:

    oh, this is horrible! one of the main reasons why I never really liked the whole iOS platform, Apple being able to do as they please without the slightest need for a valid reason…
    oh well, there’s always Google’s Play Store :)

  25. George says:

    If they introduce something similar in iOS 6 – sue them. This is not the first time they’ve done something like this, not even close. You may even be able to build an anti-trust case against them.

  26. Michael A. says:

    @dave There are two sides to the AirPlay / AirTunes protocol (server and client) and they were reverse engineered at different times. Rogue Amoeba may have been the ones (one one of several) to reverse engineer the iTunes or “client” side (sending the music to the Airport Express); that happened several years ago. But I’m pretty sure they only added the feature to receive and play music after the missing keys were found and published by someone else last year.

    P.S. I love Airfoil and it’s interoperability with AirPlay and I don’t much care that it’s reverse engineered and not officially licensed. In my mind it’s fair game to reverse engineer it. But it’s hardly surprising that Apple, who used encryption to keep the protocol proprietary and makes money off of licensing it, would have a problem with someone using their own App Store to profit off a reverse engineered implementation.

  27. John Kneeland from Nokia DevRel says:

    Hi guys,

    Longtime fan and former user of Airfoil (well I suppose I still use it on my MacBook) here. I’m from Nokia Developer Relations and we’d love to have you bring your stuff to the growing family of Nokia devices. Drop me a line! (first.last at nokia)

  28. John Kneeland from Nokia DevRel says:

    Oh, I forgot to say, in case it wasn’t implied. We’re very pleasant to work and partner with! :)

  29. Jean-Yves Avenard says:

    But if it worked directly from iTunes (that is without using AirFoil client on the mac), I’m guessing you used the hack RAOP key…
    Surely, that wouldn’t go well with Apple’s policy

  30. A crumby reality says:

    …a conclusion you should have accepted before you ever decided to develop for the despotic platform that is Apple.

  31. claps says:

    Support and fuck Apple, they will never get a single penny from me anymore. Such dickheads

  32. SlidVendetta says:

    Bring it over to Android!

  33. Jonas says:

    Are you insane? Why would Apple release their own version of this? It’s clearly because it’s a “pirate” app. Ripping digital streams is not content providers, nor Apple, wants anything to do with.

  34. AppleZilla says:

    Sigh. Just moved into a new place and this was on my need to buy list. From now on when I think I might want an app, I’m going to just buy the damn thing.

    Good luck on your appeal, folks.

  35. gentux says:

    @SlidVendetta

    After Android has a clean and real-time compatible Audio-Subsystem, someone may begin to think about. I don’t think you want a half second lag between two speakers though you have much to optimize to achieve that.

  36. anthony says:

    apple’s goal is to crush all competition so I’m hardly surprised.
    the ironic thing is all the apple fans are making this possible by buying too many apple devices.

  37. Interactive Logic says:

    Pure speculation, but it smells like something interesting may be arriving in iOS 6. Perhapsp AirPlay to/from other devices other than AirPort Express, Apple TV, etc.?

    If so, all will probably be revealed at WWDC next month… Sherlock.

  38. Interactive Logic says:

    Unfortunate too, since I would love to have this app now! Of course.

  39. itsroundrock says:

    I use this app along with Airfoil on my Mac. Works great to stream music from Spotify. This is a great app and hate to see Apple removing this from the app store. I wish they restore this back.

  40. Darwin says:

    Apple does not have a monopoly and this is not an anti trust issue. Get a grip. RA hacked the encryption key for AirPlay instead of licensing it.

  41. abitofcode says:

    Three weeks ago they did this to us with our app Sketchshare, as a result I now develop for Android, Windows and iOS. As a developer I can’t afford to gamble on the app store accepting the apps I write, fortunately Sketchshare was our own product, had it been a clients app it could have ended badly.

  42. Elsebeth says:

    IANAL, but AFAIK:

    Remember, all of you, that RA having used a reversed key does not legally entitle Apple to yank the app.

    It *does* entitle them, under the DMCA, to sue those who did the original reverse engineering. If that’s RA, then so much the worse for RA. But iff, as RA says, they have stuck to the letter of their agreement with Apple, then Apple is at risk of an antitrust investigation.

  43. Jeff says:

    Any of you who still have the app care to crack it for us that never got a chance to use it?

  44. Votre says:

    Well, didn’t Steve Jobs himself come right out and say Apple is “shameless about stealing great ideas” back in the mid 90′s? (There’s a YouTube clip of him saying that in case any apologists feel the need to make yet another excuse for Apple’s double standard regarding innovation, to wit: What’s ours is ours – and what’s yours is ours too if we decide I want to copy it.)

    Apparently protecting the rights of IP stakeholders only applies to Apple’s IP. Everything else is fair game in their reality distortion zone.


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