Recently, Cult of Mac published an email a user of Airfoil Speakers Touch received from Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller. Rogue Amoeba must take issue with this response to our mutual customer, and with Mr. Schiller’s characterization of our retelling of the event as “not accurately recounted”. Here is Mr. Schiller’s full statement:
“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. Apple asked Rogue Amoeba to update their app to remain in compliance with our terms and conditions.
“Your assumptions as to Apple’s motives 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.”
In response to the claim that this feature was made “without using approved APIs”
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.
In response to the claim that we did this “without a proper license”
Likewise, 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.
In response to the claim that this was “in violation of Apple’s 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?