Posted By Paul Kafasis on January 19th, 2021
It’s (past) time for a new calendar, which means it’s (also past) time for the latest Rogue Amoeba status report. Our fifth annual report contains a recap of our busy-beyond-belief 2020, along with a look at plans for 2021.
Though the word “unprecedented” has been sorely overused of late, 2020 really was a year unlike any other for Rogue Amoeba. It began normally enough, but as COVID-19 led so much of the world to lock down and work remotely, we saw staggering new demand for our products. We first noticed something was up when our support volume soared:
Year-over-year support requests for 2020 vs. 2019
Beginning in March, there was a surge in usage of all our products, especially our audio routing tool Loopback, our sound control utility SoundSource, and our recorder Audio Hijack. The highest peaks didn’t last forever, but there has been a sustained increase in the popularity of our tools, with a new normal that’s much higher than before.
While coping with that increased demand has been challenging, we’re glad to be able to assist Mac users around the globe. It’s tremendously gratifying to know our products are helping so many of you adapt to new ways of working and living.
New Guides for Using Rogue Amoeba Apps
One result of this increased usage was the discovery of new, and newly popular, use cases. Much of the world is now communicating via voice chat on services like Zoom and Google Meet, and several of our products can enrich that experience. We created some great new support resources, which help you:
Turn down Zoom, without affecting other apps (to tune out of a call you’re required to be on 😎)
Our article on adding volume control to unsupported devices also proved quite popular. If you have an HDMI, DisplayPort, or other audio output that the system refuses to adjust, SoundSource can provide volume adjustment, as well as keyboard volume key support.
In 2020, we released an insane 80 new versions, more than in any previous year. Though all of these updates contained new features, improvements, and refinements, 79 of them were provided free to existing users. Let’s highlight a few of the biggest changes.
We began the year with SoundSource 4.2, which enhanced our Bluetooth support and added a new “Volume Overdrive” effect, among other changes. Following that release, we stepped back to review the tremendous quantity of feedback we’d received since the initial release of SoundSource 4.
Many months of work later, we unveiled SoundSource 5, 2020’s lone paid upgrade. Version 5 is a reimagining of the product, with an interface that’s been noticeably slimmed down, particularly in the Compact view. SoundSource also now automatically handles audio apps, so there’s less need to manually manage things. Of course, there are many new features as well, from powerful menu bar meters to enhanced audio effects.
SoundSource is made for anyone who does anything at all with audio on the Mac, and it’s rapidly become one of our most popular products. If you haven’t checked it out, take a look today.
In April, Audio Hijack received a major update to version 3.7. This release included the new “Live Stream” block, making it possible to stream audio to RTMP services like Facebook Live, Twitch, and YouTube Live.
The release of this functionality was actually pushed up in response to user requests. With so many people locked down at home, the Live Stream block has provided musicians, DJs, and other content creators with an easy way to share and monetize their work.
When Farrago 1.5 arrived, our soundboard app got its biggest update since the original release. This enormous undertaking contained over 30 new features, supercharging the List Mode, and checking off literally dozens of user requests. Farrago was able to help thousands of new customers in 2020, whether they used it for voice chats, remote tabletop gaming sessions, or podcasts.
A Continuous Parade of Updates
Of course, the rest of our products got plenty of love throughout the year as well. We repeatedly fortified Loopback to better handle all manner of wonky audio devices and configurations. Our home audio streamer Airfoil gained full support for the new HomePods Mini. Piezo and Fission also received several smaller releases to keep them working well.
The final months of 2020 were spent rolling out an incredible parade of updates to the entire product line. This past fall, Apple made two major changes to the Mac platform, with MacOS 11 (Big Sur) followed by new hardware powered by Apple Silicon. We devoted countless hours to preparing our products to support Apple’s latest changes.
We were ready for Big Sur prior to its release, and had betas available for the new M1 Macs when they arrived. By year’s end, our official releases all had support for both the new OS and the new hardware. Make sure you have the latest versions of our products, and you’ll be good to go.
Other 2020 News
Here’s a bit more news worth noting from last year.
Back in 2018, we announced licensing for ACE, the audio capture engine that underpins many of our products. This licensing really took off last year, and now over a dozen different products use ACE to power their audio capture, from screen recording tools to transcription apps.
After the success we had with ACE, we introduced a second framework for licensing: Resonate. Resonate simplifies audio handling with a dramatically easier-to-use interface for MacOS’s CoreAudio. If you’re developing an application which needs to use audio on the Mac, Resonate is for you.
We also marked anniversaries for two members of our team. Our all-star designer Neale Van Fleet has now been with us for over five years, while our support ace Chris Barajas is now by far our longest-tenured employee, with over a decade under his belt. One of Rogue Amoeba’s greatest strengths is our incredible staff, and it’s a special privilege to have the chance to celebrate milestones like this.
We’re generally pretty tight-lipped when it comes to future plans, preferring to show, rather than tell. That said, there are a few things I can share today.
Coming Very Soon: SoundSource 5.3
We’re currently finalizing the next major update to SoundSource. In version 5.3, changing your devices will be faster than ever, and we’ve honed many aspects of audio effects. In particular, if you like tinkering with your audio adjustments, the new “Effects Bypass” option will prove very useful.
Effects have moved into a separate process, to prevent misbehaving plugins from crashing SoundSource. This change also brings support for older (built for Intel) plugins on the new M1 Macs. With additional advancements to the “Headphone EQ” effect and more, you won’t want to miss this free update. Watch for SoundSource 5.3 in the coming weeks.
Audio Hijack Updates
Work on our best-known product never stops, and we’re planning more major Audio Hijack updates in 2021. Lots of new features are in the works, as is an interface touch-up. We’re also planning to bring over work done in SoundSource, with Audio Hijack gaining a new “Magic Boost” block and enhancements to Volume Overdrive. It’s always nice when work on one of our products can find its way into other apps as well.
We’ll have more to say about Audio Hijack in the coming months, but for now, enjoy this teaser image:
Much More to Come
2021 should be just a little bit quieter than 2020 for Rogue Amoeba. We aren’t currently planning to release any brand-new products this year, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that Apple will avoid shaking up the platform quite as much as they did last year. Nevertheless, 2021 is sure to be a very busy year. We’ll still be doing all we can to push the state-of-the-art forward in audio software on the Mac, so you can be assured of updates both big and small for our entire line. Perfection in software may be unattainable, but that doesn’t stop us from striving for it.
I hope to expand our support resources to help even more folks use our products. We’ll likely create new articles in our Knowledge Base, as well as videos on our nascent YouTube channel. If you have an idea for an article or video we might make, or you’re making use of our products in an unusual way, we’d love to hear from you.
Finally, the Rogue Amoeba team will be growing in the near future. With our products proving more popular than ever before, our support and development teams were both kept incredibly busy throughout 2020. We want to devote even more resources to both customer support and future development in 2021. We’ve been collecting applications, and we plan to bring on multiple new amoebas later this year.
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Stay safe, stay healthy, and here’s to a tomorrow.