There’s an interesting story developing on the App Store front today. It seems that Apple has just pulled the popular Airfoil Speakers Touch application from its digital download hub, without offering up any kind of explanation.

If you haven’t heard of the app before, it’s essentially a utility that allows allowed you to stream audio from your desktop Mac or PC to an iOS device using AirPlay. It’s been in the App Store for years. So why’d Apple pull it?

Here’s what Rogue Amoeba, the developers of the app, had to say about the matter:

“Today, we’ve been informed that Apple has removed Airfoil Speakers Touch from the iOS App Store. We first heard from Apple about this decision two days ago, and we’ve been discussing the pending removal with them since then. However, we still do not yet have a clear answer on why Apple has chosen to remove Airfoil Speakers Touch. Needless to say, we’re quite disappointed with their decision, and we’re working hard to once again make the application available for you, our users.

As far as we can tell, Airfoil Speakers Touch is in full compliance with Apple’s posted rules and developer agreements. We’ve already filed an appeal with Apple’s App Review Board, and we’re awaiting further information. Unfortunately, Apple has full control of application distribution on iOS, leaving us with no other recourse here.”

Apple has long-since been criticized for its “walled garden” approach to its iOS platform. It’s even notorious for rejecting and removing applications from the App Store without much word or warning. But this is different.

Most apps that manage to slip through the App Store’s tedious approval process are generally pulled within a day or two if Apple sees fit. So how did Airfoil Speakers Touch manage to survive for nearly three years?

Cult of Mac has an intriguing theory behind Apple’s actions. The site says that it has learned that the app duplicates an upcoming iOS 6 feature:

“According to our tipster, Airfoil Speakers Touch wasn’t yanked arbitrarily, but instead because it duplicates functionality in the still unreleased and officially unannounced iOS 6. Our source says that in iOS 6, an Apple TV, for example, can pipe sound from a movie to an iPod touch, iPhone or iPad, and any iOS device will be able to beam audio to another. We’re trying to get more details, and have reached out to Apple and Rogue Amoeba for comment.”

An appealing concept for sure. But why would Apple pull the app 6 months before iOS 6 is expected to go public? And how would it explain this to other developers? “Sorry guys, if we like what your app does, we’re going to build it into iOS and ban yours from the App Store.”

A more likely scenario is that a security issue has been discovered in the way Airfoil Speakers Touch interacts with Apple’s products. Or perhaps the software conflicts with a new addition or feature in iOS 6, and it just needs to be corrected. There are dozens of possible explanations.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see how this whole story plays out. And we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as more information becomes available.

Why do you think Apple pulled the app?

  • Dom

    Because that’s what they do.

  • They did it to further acceptance And use of Jailbreaking

  • copying the features?

  • Next stop, Cydia.

  • Anonymous

    put it on cydia like to try it

  • Falk M.

    “Or perhaps the software conflicts with a new addition or feature in iOS 6, and it just needs to be corrected.”
    If Apple expected every App to be compatible with unreleased major iOS builds that haven’t even been a) announced b) released as beta to developers, then I would bet that many many more Apps didn’t even make it to the Store.

  • Anonymous

    If apple are making the functionality native who’d want the app anyway?
    As for them pulling it six months in advance it’s probably a gaurd against people using the app instead of their built-in functionality. As apple really don’t like apps that copy iOS functionality.

    That is, if that’s the reason why.

    • Falk M.

      Maybe those who own devices that will not be upgradeable to iOS6…

      • Anonymous

        It was a rhetorical question but fair point. Even so, jailbreak developers would do a better job. Having said that I haven’t used this app, I just expect as much because jailbreak tweaks often work on a system level, rather than being contained within an app.

      • Falk M.

        I’m actually happy for everything I can replace jailbreak tweaks with.
        Be it App Store apps or iOS functionality upgrades (iOS5 was WHOPPING, had a lot less reason – but still enough – to jailbreak).

        The minute I see my iPhone runs stock the way I want it to run I’m out of the jailbreaking business, I don’t like doing it at all…

      • Anonymous

        @Falk M. Apple: home of the whopper.
        What is it you don’t like about jailbreaking?
        Jailbreaking would be a more pleasant experience if it were stock, though it wouldn’t be “jailbreaking” anymore. It should be a pro option for tinkerers like myself and developers. Even problems that ionic has pointed out could be addressed, security researchers wouldn’t have to release exploits to the public for free and piracy could be helped I suppose. Anyway, I think too much.

  • Because fuck you, that’s why

    • Anonymous

      Lol I don’t think thats why. But when I came across your comment I laughed so hard I pooped my pants.

  • There are a lot of apps that stream video and audio from the computer to the ios device. I actually use Plex for this. So where are these other apps different to Airfoil Speakers?

    • Falk M.

      Plex doesn’t use AirPlay, it uses its own media server on your computer.

      Great app by the way! 🙂

  • Coz tim cook is addicted to streaming music with airfoil, thats why it had to go.

  • Because they are adding said function to iOS 6.0 and we can’t have redundant apps… can we? Didn’t they do this with WifiSync?

    • Falk M.

      WifiSync = Cydia tweak.
      Never got pulled by Apple hence. 🙂
      (But copied, indeed, although it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is a no-brainer feature)

      • WifiSync was originally submitted to Apple by Will Strafach (Chromic) but Apple rejected the app on no grounds, claiming it broke their terms, but it didnt. THEN it went to Cydia

      • Falk M.

        Wouldn’t WifiSync actually be pretty “unsandboxed” in order to provide such system-level functionality?

        And oh ok, still “got away” ( 😉 ) by saying it didn’t get pulled though, as the big wondering here is how Airfoil ran for 3 years in the App Store, which is what Timothy compared it against seemingly when he asked “Didn’t they do this with WifiSync?”.

      • Because airfoil, till this happened, didnt do anything apple didnt approve of

      • Anonymous

        I’m pretty sure it did break their terms. I wonder what it was specifically. Within the sandbox developers have acces to photos, music and contacts that I know of and apparently there’s a lot more.

  • Sounds like they have some serious plans for iOS6, but how does this violate something that isnt technically in existence? Sounds like Apple likes to make sure there are no doubts or arguments saying “We already have that!”

  • Oh man… That’s what makes me feel bad about having an Apple product. Apple, add a dam clause to the contract saying that if you are planning to add a similar feature in iOS you’ll reject the app. Put a number on the rule so the dev can go to the Agreement, look for the number and understand why the hell you’re acting so stupid. What’s the big deal about streaming from PC to phone? MediaHub from Samsung does that for the last 2-3 years…. So we should expect Plex to disappear soon, right?

  • SimonOrJ

    Am I seeing things or did the app got back into AppStore?