Airfoil Speakers Touch Saga Continues: Rogue Amoeba Responds To Apple’s Phil Schiller

Airfoil Speakers Touch Saga Continues: Rogue Amoeba Responds To Apple’s Phil Schiller

The drama continues to unfold.

Earlier today we showed you the email Apple marketing VP Phil Schiller sent in response to Apple removing Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil Speakers Touch app from the App Store. Yanking the app caused quite the stir, as Rogue Amoeba was accused of misusing Apple’s AirPlay API to receive audio to an iOS device.

Schiller said that Rogue Amoeba used AirPlay functionality without proper licensing, and the Airfoil Speakers Touch makers have responded to Schiller with more points of their own.

In an email response today Schiller said:

“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.”

As you can imagine, Rogue Ameoba does not agree with the Apple VP’s stance. In a blog post today, the app makers said that the code used to receive AirPlay audio was made entirely in-house, and that Airfoil Speakers Touch did not actually violate any of Apple’s AirPlay APIs. While Apple does license the right to receive AirPlay audio to hardware manufacturers, there is no such licensing in place for software.

According to Rogue Ameoba:

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?

  • larrymadill

    This is a story I am well past caring about.

  • Paul Burt

    Is there not some rule for developers about tweaking Apple’s APIs for other use or making their own API that plays off of Apple’s own API? Cause I feel like that’s what the issue is here, in which case the app got pulled for a very legit reason: Rogue Ameoba broke the rules that they’re trying to say they followed! Seems pretty cut and dry to me!

  • Aaron

    By their own statement, they admit to reverse-engineering Apple’s AirPlay protocol. Why wouldn’t the author of that protocol be just a little pissed off and remove their applications from the App Store. They are fighting a losing war.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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