First, the good news: Airfoil Speakers Touch is once again available in the iOS App Store. You can download it directly on your device or click here to learn more about sending audio from your Mac or PC to your iOS device.
Unfortunately, Airfoil Speakers Touch can no longer receive audio directly from other iOS devices or iTunes. Read on for more information about this troubling change, as well as the reasons behind it.
On April 25th, 2012, we released Airfoil Speakers Touch 3 for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It included a new Enhanced Audio Receiving feature which turned your iOS device into an AirPlay-compatible audio receiver. This made it possible to send audio from one iOS device to another, or from iTunes directly to an iOS device.
Over the next 30 days, more than 7,000 users purchased the Enhanced Audio Receiving feature inside Airfoil Speakers Touch. There’s no question that there exists extremely high demand for this functionality.
Nevertheless, on May 24th, 2012, Airfoil Speakers Touch was removed from the iOS App Store by Apple. We had two brief conversations with a representative from Apple prior to the removal, but the reasons for the removal were never made clear to us. The claim they made was that we were using private APIs, which we knew to be incorrect.
Following the removal of Airfoil Speakers Touch from the App Store, we submitted an appeal to Apple’s App Review Board. As we reported at the end of last month, we were still in the dark as to the exact reasons behind Apple’s removal of the app.
The Latest News
Earlier this week, we had a chance to speak to Apple for the first time since they initially told us Airfoil Speakers Touch was being removed from the store two weeks ago. We’ve finally gotten some answers.
We now know that Apple’s issue with Airfoil Speakers Touch was specifically related to its recently-added ability to receive audio directly from iOS devices and iTunes. This was not properly conveyed in our initial conversations prior to the removal of Airfoil Speakers Touch from the store, and Apple’s representatives apologized for the fact that the entire process was “poorly handled”.
It’s clear that despite previous claims, Airfoil Speakers Touch was not in fact using private APIs. The Enhanced Audio Receiving add-on was implemented entirely from scratch and conformed to Apple’s published guidelines.
Regardless, Apple is using the authority they provide themselves in the guidelines and program license agreement to remove apps they don’t like. Specifically, they cited a provision in the App Store Review Guidelines which allows them to reject apps “for any content or behavior [they] believe is over the line”. That’s certainly disappointing, and frustrating, but it’s the nature of the system Apple has created.
If nothing else, we’re gratified to at least have come to an understanding that we didn’t violate the guidelines – Apple simply doesn’t want us providing this functionality in the App Store. Ultimately, if Apple doesn’t want it, we can’t provide it and users can’t have it.
You may be asking why Apple would want to prevent users from having this functionality. Only Apple can provide a full answer here. We do know that Airfoil Speakers Touch’s ability to receive audio directly from iTunes and iOS enabled some users to forgo purchasing expensive AirPlay hardware, hardware which Apple licenses. It seems Apple has chosen to use their gatekeeper powers to simply prevent competition.
We’re pleased that Airfoil Speakers Touch is once again available in the iOS App Store, enabling you to use Airfoil to send audio from your Mac or PC to Airfoil Speakers Touch running on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. However, in order to get Airfoil Speakers Touch back into the store as a receiver for Airfoil, we had to remove its ability to receive audio directly from iOS and iTunes via AirPlay. This was quite disappointing to us, as we’d provided a feature that thousands of users found quite useful.
Sadly, we reached the end of the line with Apple, and it was clear they would not be allowing users to have this functionality. We determined that our best course of action was to remove it, so as to save the rest of the application for its existing and future users. For now, if you wish to send from one iOS device to another, or from iTunes to an iOS device, we recommend checking out this post for workarounds.
Update (September 24th, 2012 6:30 PM): Here’s the latest (and likely last) update on this.
If you previously purchased the now-removed Enhanced Audio Receiving feature, the functionality will remain even if you update to Airfoil Speakers Touch 3.1 and beyond.
If you purchased the Enhanced Audio Receiving functionality while it was available, and you install a new copy of Airfoil Speakers Touch, you can still use the “Restore Previous Purchases” button in Airfoil Speakers Touch’s settings to restore the functionality.
Unfortunately, as before, we have no ability to issue refunds in the App Store. Only Apple does, and they maintain a “No Refunds” policy.