Under The Microscope

Rogue Amoeba’s 2020 Status Report

With the new year not being so new anymore, it’s well past time for Rogue Amoeba’s annual status report. Read on for a recap of what we did in 2019, as well as a look at our plans for 2020.

Recap of 2019

Major Updates

In 2019, we had almost 50 different releases across our line. As always, this included many minor improvements and bug fixes, but we also had several noteworthy releases. In fact, five of our seven products received at least one major update. In alphabetical order, they were:

Airfoil Satellite 2.0 for iOS

Our popular home audio streaming app Airfoil for Mac didn’t get overhauled in 2019, but its companion app Airfoil Satellite for iOS did. With version 2.0 of Airfoil Satellite, streaming to all the latest iOS devices is now fully supported.

Audio Hijack 3.6

Audio Hijack is our best known app, and we’re always hard at work fulfilling the promise of letting you record any audio on your Mac. With Audio Hijack 3.6, we made improvements to our noise clean-up plugins (Declick, Dehum, and Denoise) and made it a breeze to capture audio from Finder, Text to Speech, Siri, and more.

Fission 2.5

Apple featured Fission in the Mac App Store last year, and it was great for our easy-to-use audio editor to get more exposure. In Fission 2.5, we added full Dark Mode support, made improvements to custom ringtones, and fixed a handful of irksome bugs as well.

Loopback 2.1

September’s Loopback 2.1 release featured a brand-new Dark theme for use with MacOS’s Dark Mode, as well as a marked improvement dealing with physical audio hardware, so far fewer adjustments are needed to your Loopback virtual devices. If you’re a podcaster, live streamer, or audio tech of any stripe, the cable-free audio routing offered by Loopback will make your life better.

Piezo 1.6

Though Audio Hijack is aimed at users of all levels, folks are often drawn to our charmingly simple audio recorder Piezo, thanks to its simple, one-click usage. We made many improvements to recording and setup in Piezo 1.6, but most notably, this update fixed two different ways the app’s settings popover could misbehave in amusing fashion. “Wiggle freeze” begone!

SoundSource 4 and SoundSource 4.1

Our single biggest release of 2019 was the upgrade to SoundSource 4. It was a dramatic overhaul from previous versions, leading us to cheekily refer to it as the “brand-new SoundSource 4”. From its origins as a quick way to change your system devices, SoundSource has grown into a powerful tool for controlling all aspects of audio on your Mac. With it, you can control volumes on a per-app basis, add audio effects to any audio, and much more.

Just a couple months after that initial 4.0 release, SoundSource 4.1 added a full Dark Mode theme, an improved menu bar icon which shows your current volume level, and literally dozens of other refinements. We think SoundSource is so good, it ought to be on running every user’s Mac. If you haven’t checked it out yet, there’s no time like the present.

Another Year, Another New MacOS Version

At the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple unveiled the newest version of the Mac’s operating system, MacOS 10.15 (Catalina). We spent much of the summer ensuring all our apps had preliminary support for Catalina when it arrived in early October. A handful of issues came to light once Catalina was officially released, however, and this required us to spend further time on updates.

We eventually smoothed out the issues, and all of our products now have full support for Catalina. Still, it was a rather enervating fall. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that just staying current with the annual OS updates is a heavy burden for developers. Alas, until Apple slows the pace of their OS updates, we have little choice but to continue expending energy to keep up.

On a related note, remember that our Status page always provides details about support for various operating systems. When a new version of MacOS comes out, we post prominent links to the Status page, but you can always check it at https://rogueamoeba.com/status/.

Additional News

Software releases weren’t the only thing we did last year, of course.

Tutorial Videos

Many great instructional videos were posted last year, with real users of the apps discussing our products. First up, podcast pro Chris Enns had several great tutorials for Audio Hijack. Not long after that, audio producer Mike Russell covered all four apps in our Ultimate Podcast Bundle (That’s Audio Hijack, Loopback, Farrago, and Fission). Finally, Guy Serle posted two great videos discussing Loopback 2. We’re always grateful when folks share their knowledge in this way, and we hope it helps users like you get the most from our products.

Posts from Neale

Our designer Neale had two particularly great posts about design last year. The first of these was a look at the design of SoundSource 4, where he explained some of the progression the design of the app took over time. It’s always fun to read about, and to see, the iterations software takes before it ships publicly.

Neale’s second post was about “all-up design”, and discussed how NASA’s approach to the moon landing can be applied in other fields, including software design.

Adieu, Airfoil for Windows

At the end of 2019, we quietly bid farewell to an application most of our users likely never even tried: Airfoil for Windows. This was our lone product for the Windows platform, and for over a decade, it met a real need. Ultimately, many factors led us to retire the app, including changes on the Windows platform which made it impossible to capture audio combined as well as falling sales. It’s certainly sad to see it go, but it’s also good to free up developer time for other projects.

Coming in 2020

Part of the reason for the lateness of this status report is we were busy releasing two major updates since the start of the year. We’ve already shipped SoundSource 4.2, a major update to our audio control utility, as well as an overhauled version of Airfoil Satellite for Android, our Airfoil audio receiver and remote control for the Android platform.

Those updates mean the year’s off to a great start, and we’re not slowing down. Here’s just some of what we’ve got in the pipeline for 2020.

A Major Farrago Update

Farrago is actually our youngest application, dating back only as far as 2018. After shipping that initial 1.0, we’ve steadily added new features and made improvements, bringing us to the current version 1.2.7.

We’ve recently been working on a major Farrago update which we hope to ship this spring. Farrago 1.5 will remain familiar to existing users, but its List Mode will be greatly enhanced. We’re also making dozens of other improvements and fixes to the rest of the app.


A sneak peek at Farrago 1.5

We’ll be releasing this in the near future, but there’s no need to wait to check out Farrago, as the new version 1.5 will be a free update for existing users. Try out the best soundboard app for Mac today, then watch for Farrago 1.5 soon.

Continued Audio Hijack Improvements

In last year’s status report, we mentioned that Audio Hijack would see a great deal of resources devoted to it in 2019. Last year saw one major update, the aforementioned Audio Hijack 3.6, but much additional work was done that has not yet shipped to the public.

We’ll have much more news on Audio Hijack updates later in 2020. For now, here’s a sneak peek at some changes we’re currently working on:

More Live Streaming Capabilities

As part of that Audio Hijack push, we’ve also been experimenting with adding even more support for live streaming. Audio Hijack 3.5 added the Broadcast node, which helps with radio station style streaming via Shoutcast and Icecast. For more “live event” type broadcasting, we’re now working on adding Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) support. RTMP streaming is used to connect to major streaming services like YouTube Live, Twitch, and many others. We’re excited to have more to show there soon.

Keep Up With Rogue Amoeba

There will be lots more to see this year, including plenty of smaller updates and improvements. To get the latest news from Rogue Amoeba:

That’s it for the moment, but please accept our (rather late) wishes for a very merry new year. Here’s to a happy 2020 for all!

Overdrive Your Audio, and Much More, With SoundSource 4.2

Last year, we introduced the brand-new SoundSource, version 4. With SoundSource, you gain truly powerful control over all the audio on your Mac. You can adjust sound on a per-app basis, add audio effects, control devices, and much more. SoundSource 4 has proven to be a hit with users, and we’ve been hard at work on updates.

Today, we’re delighted to ship SoundSource 4.2. Read on to see what’s new, or just head over to the SoundSource page to download the latest now.

What’s New in SoundSource 4.2

SoundSource 4.2 is a free update for SoundSource 4 users, but that doesn’t mean it’s light on new features and functionality.

Volume Overdrive

The most visible addition in SoundSource 4.2 is a brand-new built-in effect called “Volume Overdrive”. The Volume Overdrive effect makes it possible to amplify application audio up to 400%, so your speakers get louder than you thought possible.

Better still, Volume Overdrive is smarter than your average amplifier. When active, its built-in limiting functionality works intelligently to improve the quality of overdriven audio, avoiding unpleasant digital distortion.

Control of More Special Audio Sources

The release of SoundSource 4.1 added support for controlling audio from Finder and the OS’s “Text to Speech” functionality in SoundSource 4.1. Now, SoundSource 4.2 provides control of even more of the OS’s audio features, with easy access to Siri and VoiceOver as well. Check out the “Special Sources” section of the “Add App” Source selector to find all of these sources.

A Menu Bar Output Meter

Want a visual indication of when your Mac is playing audio? Head to SoundSource’s Preferences, and turn on the new “Show output activity in menu bar” setting.

Once you do, an output meter will show in the menu bar next to SoundSource’s icon. This meter moves in sync as audio plays through the default output device.

Many More Updates

There’s lots more to enjoy in SoundSource 4.2, including:

  • Bluetooth Device Battery Status – See battery status for Bluetooth devices like AirPods, AirPods Pro, and Beats hardware.

  • Removable Built-In Effects – The built-in Lagutin EQ and Volume Overdrive effects can now optionally be removed from your configurations.

  • Improvements to Bluetooth Device Reliability – SoundSource 4.2 does additional work to avoid issues caused by Apple’s Bluetooth device handling. That means selecting Bluetooth devices, including all versions of AirPods, will work more reliably.

  • Enhanced Audio Capture with ACE 11.1 – The Audio Capture Engine (ACE) backend that powers SoundSource has been updated to version 11.1.1, with many enhancements and improvements for the smoothest audio capture yet, and a fix for issues when processing audio from FaceTime.app.

  • Full MacOS 10.15 (Catalina) Support – SoundSource now has full compatibility with MacOS 10.15 (Catalina).

  • And Still More – We’re always working to improve our products in ways both big and small. In addition to what’s listed above, SoundSource 4.2 fixes several minor bugs, alongside improvements to audio device tracking, drag and drop, and more.

Download SoundSource Now

There’s no need to wait to try out SoundSource 4.2. If you’re new to SoundSource, learn all about our superior sound control, then download the free trial.

For those intelligent readers who are already using SoundSource, just open the app’s Preferences window, and click the “Check for Update” button to get the latest immediately. We hope you enjoy SoundSource 4.2!

Designer Notes: Making a Colour Scheme

Introduction

When I start a design project, one of the very first things I do is come up with a colour scheme. For me, this is a limited set of colours which will be used for all the elements in our interface, including backgrounds, icons, and text. I think it may be helpful for others to see the thought that goes into this, so I’m going to walk through each step of my process.

General Strategies

Before I get into specifics, let’s cover some good general strategies for making a colour scheme.

Limit Your Number of Colours

To start, you should limit the colour set as much as you can. Using more colours than needed can make an app look sloppy and haphazard. A good interface should be consistent, and in most cases uncluttered. Having a set of colours, established at the outset, saves us from picking random colours each time we need one.

Understand Each Colour’s Job

Think about the job each colour will be performing. Perhaps one colour will be used to show activity or status, so it should be relatively high-contrast. Some colours provide secondary information, which can subtly fade into the background. For the rare colour that’s used to alert us to problems, something stark and eye-catching is needed. Each colour should have a well-understood role in your interface, and that role should guide your selection.

Break the Rules When You Have To

There aren’t any hard and fast rules that must be followed. It’s wise to follow sensible guidelines, but if you need to bend or break a rule, or come up with your own, go for it.

Selecting Our Base Colours

Ok, time to pick some actual colours. I generally start my colour systems with a set of three primary colours, which form my base. These colours are:

  • Key/branding colour

  • Primary content colour

  • Primary background colour

We’ll need more colours than that, but we’ll obtain additional colours by mixing these base colors.

Getting Inspiration

I could just start picking random colours I like, but I usually like to begin by viewing existing color sets. A site like Color Collective is a fantastic resource for this. However, I also like to look to the real world for inspiration.

For example, I have a shirt I like that mixes orange, green and white. I’m going to use it as a base for doing a quick experimental re-colouring of Airfoil Satellite for iOS.

Here’s the shirt:

And here’s what Airfoil Satellite for iOS looks like currently:

I’m going to combine this mockup of Airfoil Satellite with the colours from the shirt, and we can see what happens. I should note that the orange and green I’ve chosen don’t traditionally go together, but I’m going to demonstrate how we can still make them work.

Key Colour

The key colour is going to be the main colour for anything I want to denote as interactive. It’s not usually going to make up the majority of pixels in any interface, but it’s the colour most closely tied to the identity and branding of the app. For example, the key colour of our soundboard app Farrago is purple.

This colour will generally be used to show status or activation, often on things like checkboxes and sliders. It will probably also be featured prominently in the app icon.

I’m going to use a bright peachy orange, inspired by the shirt, for the key colour.

Primary Content

The primary content colour I’ll use for the most important content, like text. It’s generally less intense than what we used for the key colour.

The white from the shirt for this is a good choice for this, as it’s solidly neutral.

Primary Background

Finally, the primary background needs to contrast strongly with the primary content. It might not be obvious at first, but the primary background colour will actually be the colour that makes up most of the app on a pixel to pixel comparison.

For this, I’ll start with the green colour from the shirt. However, it needs to be darkened to get a background colour that contrasts with the other primary colours we’ve chosen. This gives us a very deep green, which I like.

Picking Utility Colours

The above three selections provide a good base of colours to work with, but even the most minimal app will need more. With that in mind, I’ll also select some utility colours

Warning/Alert Colour

When something goes wrong, the user often needs to be alerted of something they need to look at. Like a poisonous frog in the jungle, I want to make sure this colour stands out from everything else.

My Airfoil Satellite mockup doesn’t show error states, but most apps will need them at some point. I selected it both because it’s bright and because it will stand out from the key orange colour.

Disabled Colour

Elements in our key colour also often require an alternate “disabled” mode. For this, I generally use a moderately-desaturated version of the key colour, rather than a flat grey. It’s related to the key colour, but slightly washed-out.

For this, I’ve taken the key colour and desaturated it from a bright peachy orange to a more muted tan.

Choosing Alternate Colours

The above is a good base of five main colours, but this interface requires additional options.

Secondary And Tertiary Content Colours

These next colours will be used for supplementary bits of text, icons, and a few other things. In the app’s hierarchy of content, these colours will be used for the less essential, but still important, elements in the design. This is content that should be legible when focused on, but it should also slightly fade into the background, rather than calling attention to itself.

To make these colours, I combine my base colours somewhat like a painter mixes paint. I usually do this by literally putting one colour over the other, and reducing the opacity of the overlaid colour until I get a hue and brightness I like.

This is functionally the same as selecting a colour on a gradient between two primary colours. Here are secondary and tertiary content colours presented on a gradient that goes between two of our primary colours:

Alternate Background Colour

This design will also need a colour to use in the background in places where elements should be subtly grouped together. This colour should be close to the primary background colour, but different enough that people can differentiate it.

For this, I’ve taken the primary background colour and brightened it by about 10%-15% for use as the alternate background colour.

A Colour Mixing Note

One important note here: If you’re mixing with desaturated colours (including black or white), you might find the result looks a little less colourful than desired. I often find that I need to boost the saturation of the resulting mixed colour manually.

In Sketch, my design app of choice, colours farther to the right in the colour picker are more saturated, and colours to the left are less saturated. If your initial result is a bit dull, pick something a little to the right of it instead.

Trying it Out

We’ve now got a comprehensive set of colours, which should handle just about any job, at least for this app. Let’s look at all of our colours together:

Even though orange and green might be expected to clash, this entire group looks relatively harmonious, mostly because it was all derived from just three primary colours.

This gives us our final colour looks when applied to Airfoil Satellite for iOS.

And there we go, a solid re-colouring of our existing interface. Not all the colours I selected are visible in this screenshot, but when designing an entire app, it’s very helpful to have them picked out ahead of time. We’re not currently planning on actually overhauling Airfoil Satellite, but the above provides a great example of how colours that might seem to clash can work harmoniously.

Give It a Go Yourself

The process I’ve outlined can be used when designing an app, a website, or almost anything. I find starting with a colour scheme makes the rest of the design process much easier. I hope it helps you with your own work.

Stream Audio to All Your Android Devices

With our home audio streamer Airfoil, you can play any audio from your Mac to devices throughout your house. Airfoil automatically works with thousands of different speakers and other hardware, from Apple products like the Apple TV and HomePod, Google Cast devices, and even Bluetooth audio device

With our free companion Airfoil Satellite apps, the list of possible outputs gets even longer. Using Airfoil Satellite, you can turn hundreds of additional devices into audio outputs, from Macs and PCs to iOS and Android devices.

It’s Android that we’re talking about today, specifically version 3.0 of Airfoil Satellite for Android which has just shipped for all modern Android devices. With it, you can turn your Android phone or tablet into a wireless output for Airfoil, streaming audio from your Mac to the device. In addition, Airfoil Satellite for Android can also remotely control both Airfoil itself, as well as playback from supported source applications.

What’s New in Version 3

The new version 3.0 of Airfoil Satellite for Android is a near-complete overhaul of the previous application. The design has been updated and modernized, and it’s better looking than ever. In addition, it includes:

Support for Multiple Airfoil Instances

When multiple Airfoil instancs are present on the network, it’s now possible to specify to which Airfoil Satellite connects for remote control.

Password-Protected Speakers

A new preference makes it possible to password protect your Android device’s output, preventing undesired access and playback.

Notification Center Improvements

A “Now Playing” notification has been added, to display album art and other information about the currently playing track when available.

A New “Keep Screen Awake” Preference

The new “Keep Screen Awake” preference makes it possible to continue displaying information about what’s currently playing, rather than having the phone shut off its screen.

Improved Networking Reliability

Substantial work has been done on the backend to make Bonjour work better, resulting in devices connecting back to Airfoil more reliably than ever.

Much More

There’s a lot more in the update, from visual feedback for playback controls to a “Hide Meters” preference, and much more. Airfoil Satellite 3.0 is a major update, featuring many additional enhancements. Best of all, it’s still free to use alongside Airfoil!

Get It Free, Right Now

Airfoil Satellite for Android remains an entirely free companion to Airfoil. Airfoil Satellite for Android 3.0 can be downloaded directly from our site, and it’s available in the Google Play store as well. Just like version 2, this update is compatible with Android 6 and up.1

Ready to use your Android device with Airfoil? Head to the Airfoil Satellite for Android page now!


  1. Android 6 and up are supported, but if you’ve got an older device, head over to our Legacy page. There, you’ll find Airfoil Speakers for Android, which runs on Android 5 and lower. It’s not as fully featured as Airfoil Satellite, but it can turn your old device into a dedicated Airfoil output. ↩︎

Get Airfoil Satellite 2.0, for iOS

Airfoil users, rejoice – we’ve just shipped a major update to our iOS app Airfoil Satellite, which turns your iOS device into an audio receiver and remote control for Airfoil. Airfoil Satellite for iOS 2.0 can now be downloaded from the iOS App Store, free of charge.

If you don’t already know, Airfoil is our popular whole-house audio streaming tool. With it, you can send any audio from your Mac or PC to devices all around your house, without no wires needed.

When you add Airfoil Satellite for iOS to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, they can join the party. Use Airfoil and Airfoil Satellite together to wirelessly send any audio from your computer to your mobile devices, and to control all your audio playback.

New in Airfoil Satellite 2.0

Airfoil Satellite 2.0 includes an overhauled design, backend enhancements, and many more improvements.

A New, Modern Design

We refined the design of the entire application in Airfoil Satellite 2.0. The new tab-based interface makes it easy to navigate the entire app, so all the controls you need are just a tap or two away.


The new Airfoil Satellite 2 on iOS

The Now Playing screen has been spruced up, Settings are now easier to access, and remote control of Airfoil itself is still a snap. The screens on all the latest hardware are properly supported, including every size of iPhone and iPad.

Enhanced Performance

We also did a lot of work on Airfoil Satellite’s backend. This isn’t eye-catching like a redesigned interface, or even visible to the eye at all, but it should mean more reliable network performance. That means your audio streams as you expect it to, and Airfoil Satellite communicates with Airfoil more reliably than ever.

Much More

There are many more updates in version 2. We’ve added a handy new setting to prevent your iOS device from sleeping, so it’s always available on the network and always shows what’s playing. The “Now Playing” screen now features an on-screen volume slider, for adjusting the level of local playback. We’ve even added a custom URL scheme, so other iOS apps can better integrate with Airfoil Satellite.1

There’s lots more to see, so download the latest today!

Download Airfoil Satellite 2 on iOS

Airfoil Satellite is immediately available for all iOS devices running iOS 9 or higher. If you’re already an Airfoil Satellite user, just open up the App Store on your iOS device to update. Otherwise, tap below from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to download this free app:

If you’re new to the Airfoil family, you’ve been missing out. Give it a try to stream audio all around your house, with Airfoil and Airfoil Satellite.

Happy streaming!


Footnotes:

  1. With Airfoil Satellite 2.0.0 and up, the following commands are supported:

    • satellite:open

    • satellite:playpause

    • satellite:tracknext

    • satellite:trackprevious

    • satellite:volumeup

    • satellite:volumedown

    iOS app developers who need more information are encouraged to get in touch. ↩︎

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