Under The Microscope

Loopback 1.1 Brings Nested Devices and More

Loopback IconAt the beginning of the year, we shipped the first version of Loopback, our audio routing app designed to make it easy to pass audio between applications on your Mac. Loopback immediately drew rave reviews from critics, and users have been similarly thrilled to have a powerful new tool for their audio workflows. We’ve been tremendously gratified to hear how podcasters, screencasters, audio techs, and more are making use of our newest app. Now, just before the year ends, we’re shipping Loopback version 1.1.

What’s New?

The biggest new feature in Loopback 1.1 is nested devices. With nested devices, it’s now possible to embed one Loopback virtual audio device right inside another. This allows for some incredibly powerful (and complex) setups. For instance, we’ve seen podcasters looking to use both Skype and FaceTime together for one show, configuring things to ensure all audio is heard by all parties.


Nested devices provide tremendous power

With the setup seen above, all parties can hear each other’s voices in their respective VoIP apps, as well as music the host is playing via iTunes. With the “Final Output” device, all the audio is joined together for recording of the final product with Audio Hijack.

Version 1.1 makes a slew of improvements to Loopback’s interface as well. We’re now providing useful visual warnings when physical devices aren’t present, to help understand why audio may not behave as expected. We’ve also improved full-screen support, added a helpful Type column in the Audio Sources table, made it possible to drag applications directly to that table, and much more.

We also made some small improvements to virtual audio devices themselves. Loopback’s virtual audio devices now support the 176.4 kHz sample rate. You can also now duplicate devices, to quickly create similar devices, and there’s support for undo/redo when making device changes. Devices even each have an automatically generated custom icon, visible in apps like Audio MIDI Setup.


A helpful custom icon, as seen in Audio MIDI Setup

In addition to new features and improvements, we took the time to squash some nasty bugs. Changes made by Apple briefly prevented Loopback from capturing audio from FaceTime, but we’ve worked around that issue, so FaceTime and Loopback again work together as expected. We’ve also fixed several related issues where audio monitoring could fail, leading to missing audio. While we were at it, we managed to solve a few very rare crashes too.

We’re also making good use of Notification Center to help you as you use Loopback. Rather than the app popping itself open, you’ll now receive a notification when a new update to Loopback is available. We’re also using notifications to display critical errors when the Loopback app itself isn’t open. For instance, you’ll get a notification if a monitoring device is missing, so you don’t wonder why you’re not hearing audio!


A notification from Loopback

Finally, Loopback 1.1 offers complete support for MacOS 10.12 (Sierra). While Loopback 1.0.3 offered preliminary support for the new OS, the latest version is now fully vetted and updated for Sierra, so you can use it with confidence.

With Loopback, we set out to smooth out the rough edges that snagged early adopters of Loopback. The app should now be easier and clearer to use, in addition to being more feature-filled than ever. There’s always more to do, including some major feature additions planned for 2017, but this is a great update to our newest app. We hope you like it!

Get It Now

If you’re looking for the power of a high-end studio mixing board in a much more affordable software package, Loopback is for you. Learn more via the Loopback page, then download the free trial. If you’re already using Loopback, open it up and select “Check for Update” from the Loopback menu to get the free update to version 1.1.

Frequently Asked Questions About Airfoil and Chromecast

On Friday, we released version 5.5 of our home audio streamer Airfoil for Mac. This free update adds support for Google Chromecast, and other Google Cast devices, to Airfoil. Since then, we’ve been gratified to hear from many users thrilled with the new functionality. We’ve also heard a few questions repeatedly, so I thought I’d answer them here.

Can Airfoil stream <insert app name here>?


Stream audio from any app on your Mac, or all of your System Audio at once

As veteran users can no doubt guess, this question is coming from folks new to Airfoil. Airfoil can stream any audio from your Mac out to remote speakers. That includes music apps like Spotify and iTunes, web-based services like Pandora, and even all System Audio at once. Whatever you’re playing on your Mac can be streamed via Airfoil.

Does Airfoil work with <insert my Chromecast here>?

We’ve successfully tested with every Chromecast device Google has released thus far. That includes both of the current puck-shaped models (Chromecast Audio and Chromecast), as well as the original stick-shaped model released back in 2014. Airfoil works great with all of this Chromecast hardware!

Does it work with the Chromecast Ultra?

Ah, we can’t fool you, dear questioner. The Chromecast Ultra is not yet released, and thus doesn’t fit the answer above. Because it isn’t yet available, we haven’t tested with it. We’ll be getting the Ultra as soon as possible, however, and we’re confident it too will be supported.

What are Google Cast devices, exactly?

“Cast” is the official name for Google’s streaming protocol. It’s essentially their version of Apple’s “AirPlay” protocol. Like AirPlay, third-party hardware manufacturers can incorporate Cast technology into their devices. A “Google Cast” device is simply a piece of hardware which can receive audio via the Cast protocol.

While the Chromecast devices made by Google are the most well-known Cast devices, there are hundreds of others out there. This includes televisions made by Sony and Vizio, as well as speakers from LG, Grace, Bang and Olufsen, and more. Check your hardware, because you might have a Cast receiver and not even realize it!

Can I send to multiple Cast devices at once?

You can indeed. Airfoil can send the same audio to multiple Cast devices, so if you’ve got more than one Chromecast, you can play audio throughout your house in sync.

Can I send to a mix of devices?

Yes again. If you have an Apple TV attached to your television in the living room, a Chromecast Audio attached to your stereo in the bedroom, and a Bluetooth speaker in the office, Airfoil will send audio from your Mac to all of these devices. Airfoil now supports sending audio via AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Cast, or any combination of the three. Whatever supported devices you have, Airfoil will send to any and all of them, with audio played in perfect sync.


Airfoil A-B-C’s: Send to any combination of AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Chromecast devices

When will Airfoil for Windows get Chromecast support?

We’re hard at work on adding Chromecast support to Airfoil for Windows as well, and we’ve been making good progress. This will be a free update, and we hope to ship it by early next year.

Did people really ask all of these questions?

Yes.

Even the one asking if people really asked all of these questions?

Well, no.

I have a different question. How can I get help?

As always, contact us via our support form, and we’ll be glad to assist.

Making It Tick: 5 Years (And More) With Ed

For the second time this year, we’re delighted to celebrate a five-year anniversary here at Rogue Amoeba! This is always a treat for me, because it’s a chance to put one of our great employees in the spotlight for a bit. Today, we’re honoring Ed Wynne, who joined Rogue Amoeba full-time back in October of 2011. Since then, he’s been helping to make our products the best they can be. In fact, he was doing so for many years before he came on full-time as well.

Ed’s most visible work is actually our newest product, Loopback, which allows you to route audio between applications and around your Mc. While Ed has been working for Rogue Amoeba since 2011, this app marked the first time he handled the front-end of an application. Loopback has proven even more popular than we expected, and we’ve been pleased to see Ed’s skills develop in this area after many years working behind the scenes.

It’s in our back-end code that Ed has made his biggest contribution. From the recording done by Audio Hijack and Piezo to the local audio streaming Airfoil allows, and even broadcasting to the web with Nicecast, audio capture is an integral part of our apps. The Instant On component used for much of this audio capture has long been Ed’s domain, and he’s worked long and hard to make Instant On powerful, robust, and as close to flawless as it can be.

Even before Ed joined us full time, he did contract work on our audio capture code. For over 13 years, Rogue Amoeba has been using Ed’s work. In the past five years things have really improved, however, as Ed has been able to devote his full efforts. When things work right, users barely notice, but we certainly pay attention internally. From reduced latency in audio capture to far fewer bumps surrounded OS updates, we’ve got a lot of reasons to be thankful to Ed.

Most recently, Ed was instrumental in adding support for Chromecast to Airfoil for Mac. He’s also hard at work on updates to Loopback, so you can be sure he’s not done making things better yet. We hope our users will continue to be delighted with Ed’s work for many years to come.

Nerding Out

When an employee reaches the five year mark with us, we like to find a gift especially for them. For several years, Ed’s been working with his son and daughter on various robotics competitions. If you’re thinking of Battle Bots, you’ve got the general idea, anyhow.

To help him in these endeavors, we provides a gift certificate to SparkFun Electronics, one of the best electronics retailers out on the web. While Radio Shack may have gone the way of the do-do, the internet has fortunately stepped in to provide places to purchase all the bits and pieces needed for electronics projects.

Even more fun is the Flir One thermal imager we got for Ed. Below, you can see our old friend Ammo using a Flir to diagnose a problem.


“Yup. There’s the problem.”

The Flir One attaches to an iPhone (or an iOS device), and turns it into an infrared camera. This can show overheating components in a robot, which windows are drafty and in need of repair, and even find leaks behind walls. Or you can just point it at a dog to see which parts of your canine are the hottest. In Ed’s own words, “this is so much better than the plaque my last employer gave me after 5 years!”

Dog picture
Cold Nose

In addition to these gifts, there was also our traditional custom card and 5 year challenge coin as well.

Coin and Card
Custom Card

Thank You!

I’ll close by again publicly expressing our gratitude to Ed. The work he’s done to help our products, particularly in his last five working full-time for Rogue Amoeba, has been tremendously appreciated. Thank you for all you’ve done, Ed!

Previously

We’ve previously celebrated the five year anniversaries of six other employees here at Rogue Amoeba:

Airfoil 5.5: Now Playing on Chromecast!

We’re now shipping Airfoil for Mac 5.5, a major update to our tool for streaming music around your house, and we’re very excited about it! With this update, it’s now possible to stream any audio from your Mac to the Google Chromecast, using Google’s Cast protocol. After many months of work, we’re delighted to be able to provide full Chromecast support in a free update for all of Airfoil 5 users. Read on for more details.

Airfoil and Chromecast Pair Beautifully

To reiterate, Airfoil now supports sending audio to any device that supports the Google Cast protocol. As pictured above, that includes the Google Chromecast Audio, as well as both the current Google Chromecast Video and the original (stick-shaped) model.1 Further, there are also many televisions and stereos which support Google Cast, and Airfoil works great with those as well.

Better still, Airfoil can send to multiple devices, all in sync! Of course, if you’ve got AirPlay or Bluetooth devices, Airfoil will still send to those as well. With this new version, you can get the party rocking with more devices than ever before.

Airfoil Satellite Improvements

We’ve made some big improvements to the companion Airfoil Satellite app as well. As you may know, running Airfoil Satellite on another computer turns it into an audio receiver. Now, Airfoil Satellite for Mac is easier to use than ever.

Airfoil Satellite is now AppleScriptable, enabling it to offer full support for an enhanced experience when it’s set as the source in Airfoil. This is especially useful when using Airfoil to send from iOS to multiple outputs. By setting Airfoil Satellite as your source in Airfoil, you can then send audio from iOS to your Mac, then from your Mac out to any and all supported devices. When you do, metadata will flow through to your outputs, and remote control will be available as well.

In addition, we’ve added optional global shortcuts for controlling Airfoil Satellite. Now with a quick press of your custom keyboard shortcuts, you can make Airfoil Satellite appear, hide it, and even control playback of supported applications.

And More

That isn’t all we added in Airfoil 5.5. This update also removes the separate sections Airfoil and Airfoil Satellite previously used to group remote outputs. You’ll now find all of your remote outputs in one section, regardless of what type they are. We’ve also fixed several minor bugs in Airfoil, and improved how it handles missing audio output devices (as used by the Computer output). Of course, as usual, we’ve also made myriad backend improvements for stability and improved performance.

Get Airfoil 5.5 Now!

This is a free update for all those who’ve already upgraded to Airfoil 5, first released back in February. To download the latest, just open Airfoil and select “Check for Update” from the Airfoil menu.

If you’re still using Airfoil 4 (or older!), there’s no better time to upgrade to version 5! You can download the free trial from our site, then purchase a discounted upgrade.

Of course, if you’ve never used Airfoil before, now’s a great day to learn more. Airfoil lets you stream any audio from your Mac all around your network. With version 5.5, Airfoil now supports sending audio to thousands of different devices that support AirPlay (like the AppleTV and AirPort Express), Bluetooth (like countless speakers and headphones), and Google Cast (like the Chromecast and more). Learn more, and download the free trial, on the Airfoil page.

Coming Soon to Airfoil for Windows

Fear not, Windows users, because we’re hard at work on adding Chromecast support to Airfoil for Windows as well. We’re working hard on a free Airfoil for Windows update that adds Chromecast support, and hope to ship that by early next year. Stay tuned for more on that!


Footnotes:

  1. We’re still waiting to get one of the new 4K Chromecast Ultra devices, but we expect it to work just fine. ↩︎

A Veritable Hiring Frenzy

If you follow us on Twitter, you may have seen a recent tweet announcing that we had not one, not two, but three job openings at present. We’ve received a good number of applications which we’re reviewing now, but we wanted to make sure anyone who was interested to apply saw this, so we’re posting here on the blog as well.

Mac Software Engineer

Come help develop on our immensely popular audio applications like Airfoil and Audio Hijack, or perhaps on something new! If you’re interested to work with some of the best Mac developers in the world, submit your application.

Senior Windows Software Engineer

We posted about this opening back in May, but as a Mac-focused shop, we don’t have a lot of readers who fit the bill. We’re still looking for the perfect Windows developer to help with the future of Airfoil for Windows. If that’s you, say howdy!

Part-Time Support Tech

This will be something of a new position for us. For nearly fourteen years, we’ve had a single person responsible for answering all customer inquiries. Now, we’re looking to add on, with a second person pitching in on a part-time basis. Help users make the most of our software.

Get In Touch

If you’re interested in any of the above, please head over to our Jobs page to learn more and submit an application.

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