Rogue Amoeba Retreats from iPhone Development Over App Store Policies

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In yet another example of a high-profile developer team stepping back from Apple's App Store, Rogue Amoeba today announced in a lengthy blog post that it will no longer develop applications for the iPhone following an extended run-in with App Store reviewers over a bug fix update to the company's Airfoil Speakers Touch application. The application allows users to stream any audio content from a host computer directly to an iPhone or iPod touch.

In simplest terms, Apple's objections to the use of "Apple Logo and Apple-owned Graphic Symbols" in the application led to multiple rejections of an update designed to fix a critical performance bug, leading to a delay of over three and a half months before the updated version was finally approved and made available to the public.

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Original Airfoil Speakers Touch Screenshot

While Apple's objections to the use of Apple-owned images in iPhone applications are well-known, Rogue Amoeba's situation was rather unique in that the images did not originate from the iPhone application itself, but were being sent from the host computer sending audio to the device. Those images were generated using Mac OS X tools specifically designed to aid developers in this process.

As you can see, Airfoil Speakers Touch displays an image of the sending Mac, with a screenshot showing the source application. If you're sending from an iMac with Safari as your source (as pictured), it shows your iMac running Safari. If you're sending from a MacBook Pro, it shows a MacBook Pro, and so on. These computer images are provided by Mac OS X itself, using a public function expressly for this purpose.

We also show the source application's icon - Safari in the above example. This icon also comes from a public function provided by Apple as part of Mac OS X. These functions are expressly made to enable developers to get this artwork, and use it just as we are.

After multiple rejections, including one involving a sympathetic Apple employee who attempted to assist with the situation, Rogue Amoeba was finally able to satisfy Apple's reviewers by stripping out the "Apple-owned" images and substituting in an image of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) logo linked to an explanation page detailing the company's difficulties with Apple.

134011 airfoil revised
Revised Airfoil Speakers Touch Screenshot

The lengthy and frustrating experience has clearly led the developers to reevaluate their efforts for the iPhone platform, and they have decided to step back from further App Store development.

The chorus of disenchanted developers is growing and we're adding our voices as well. Rogue Amoeba no longer has any plans for additional iPhone applications, and updates to our existing iPhone applications will likely be rare. The iPhone platform had great promise, but that promise is not enough, so we're focusing on the Mac.

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