Update Porthole to restore Apple TV compatibility

September 2013

I just released Porthole v1.4.4 which restores compatibility with the Apple TV. Apple’s latest update for the little black device changed some AirPlay protocol related things that stopped quite a few third-party AirPlay audio apps to work. The update makes sure Porthole plays by the new rules.

Putting out a fix came sooner than expected, very much thanks to Jason from Industrious One who found the solution and Quentin over at Rogue Amoeba who mentioned Jason’s fix to be “very very simple”, which in turn pointed me in the right direction :).

Have a look at their websites and products, both make excellent apps! Especially if you’re into listening to music or work with audio.

To update to the latest version of Porthole, Check for Updates in-app or download the latest version.

Apple TV v6.0 update warning

September 2013

This issue has been resolved. Update Porthole to restore compatibility. Read the follow up for more details.

The latest Apple TV firmware (version 6.0) adds a new layer of mandatory encryption for audio playback that wasn’t required before. This currently prevents unofficial audio based AirPlay apps to work like they used to.

I’m looking into the issue and trying to figure out a solution, if there is one. This requires some research and it might take a while to find a way around the encryption.

The best thing to do at the moment, is to not update your Apple TV to the latest version if you want to stream to it using Porthole. To stay up to date, follow @getporthole on Twitter. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Note that Apple TV’s running 5.3 or below and other AirPlay speakers are unaffected.

Alfred 2 workflow for Reign

August 2013

Alfred 2 Workflow for Reigh

For those of you that are familiar with Alfred, you probably need no explanation as to why a workflow for Reign will come in pretty handy. Read on to learn what it does.

Download the Alfred 2 Workflow for Reign

Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords and file actions at your fingertips.

That’s what it says on Alfred’s website. It basically moves a lot of control to your keyboard, so you can keep your eyes on the task at hand. For Reign this means that you can remote control Spotify running on another Mac by simply entering simple commands, like reign n to skip a track or reign o to open the track that’s currently playing in your own Spotify client, so you can star or share it.

It reduces the need to visit the web interface and makes remote controlling Spotify even faster and easier!

Of course, like Reign, the workflow is open-source and free to share. Visit the GitHub project to contribute and read more about how it works. Or just download the workflow file to get started.

Reign is available on the Mac App Store, for free.

Porthole update v1.4.0

July 2013

The latest update for Porthole adds a brand new feature. A feature that’s been requested quite a few times. Are you ready? This update, adds the option to use your Mac’s speakers while streaming via AirPlay! This means that your tunes will come out of your AirPlay speakers and your Mac. All in beautiful sync.

Instead of switching between local playback and AirPlay, now everybody has at least two sets of speakers!

Use all the speakers!

If you emailed me about this feature in the past, you’ll know that I held off on implementing this. Not because it was technically hard, but because it would require extra interface elements. Porthole has always been about being easy to use and elegant. Too much noise in the interface would compromise this. Hopefully you’ll agree that with version 1.4.0 I’ve found a middle ground that works.

Porthole v1.4.0

Porthole v1.4.0 with added options for enabling local playback.

As you can see the AirPlay Receivers and computer speaker are both located in separate sections. Porthole still primarily controls your AirPlay output and you’ll mainly use the top section of the menu. Everything is there to: switch between speakers, connect to all and stop streaming all together.

Select AirPlay speakers

Toggle AirPlay speakers.

Enable Mac speakers

Control your Mac’s output.

The bottom section allows you to toggle the computer speaker. By default it’s off. Click the menu item to turn it on, even while Porthole’s already active. The setting is saved and the next time you start streaming it’ll output according to your stored preferences. Click the menu item a second time to turn it off again.

The volume slider allows you to adjust the volume of the computer speaker, separately from the AirPlay volume. Remember that it directly influences the volume of the computer speaker. When you stop streaming, that’s how loud it’ll be.

Excited to try this on your setup? You can get the update via the ‘Check for Updates’-button, located in the Preferences window. Or just download the latest version from the website.

Porthole update v1.3.2

May 2013

I’m happy to have released two updates for Porthole this month, version 1.3.0 and 1.3.1. Why don’t I walk you through some of the things that were updated and improved.

Retina Graphics

For version 1.3.0 I focussed on cleaning up a lot of the interface. I never got around to adding Retina-compatible graphics to Porthole and this update takes care of about 90% of that. New in-app icons, setup wizard imagery etc. The AirPlay speaker icons were actually updated again in version 1.3.1 after I was told that graying out the music note when the speaker isn’t connected seemed to suggest the option was unavailable, instead of just inactive.

Porthole v1.2.2

Porthole v1.2.2

Porthole v1.3.0

Porthole v1.3.0, notice the much sharper menu bar icon

Porthole v1.3.1

Porthole v1.3.1, the speaker icon changes when it’s connected

Setup Wizard

The setup wizard was next to receive a little overhaul. Instead of going with the named progress indicator along the top of the wizard I wanted to do something that is a little easier to maintain and localize. I ended up using BFPageControl, which is actually a page control, but doubles easily as a low key progress indicator.

It’s also a little shorter and the image on the first step has a more obvious indicator of what Porthole looks like, in the menu bar.

Porthole v1.2.2

Porthole v1.2.2

Porthole v1.3.1

Porthole v1.3.1

Embedded Store

Next thing on the list is the option to purchase a license for Porthole from within the app. It’s entirely optional, but it provides a nice flow that takes out the license-key-copy-pasting that’s normally involved. The store window opens a secure WebView connection to FastSpring, with a theme that works well within an app.

It’s actually a component that’s provided and maintained by FastSpring themselves. You can get it here, on GitHub.

Porthole Purchase Window Porthole Purchase Window

Soundflower’s Volume

Porthole uses Soundflower to capture all the System Audio and transfer it to AirPlay speakers. I noticed that quite a few people encountered a bug where the output volume would be so low, the sound was practically inaudible. Upon further inspection I noticed that while Soundflower’s master volume was working fine, the left and right channel volume would be turned all the way down. Porthole only manipulates the mast volume and thus would not be able to fix it on its own.

My previous way of handling this issue was to instruct people to manually turn up the volume using Audio MIDI Setup.app. Which works, but is cumbersome and only works for people who look up the solution in the FAQ or email me for help. I finally decided to add an automatic fix in version 1.3.0, but not without the option to turn it off for people who require the left and right volume to be set to separate values.

Soundflower Volume Muted Soundflower Volume Fix

Password Protected AirPlay Speakers

This has been on my list for quite a while. It wasn’t a feature that was often requested, but it would enable everyone in more public spaces to password protect their speakers and still enjoy Porthole. Using passwords in OS X is tightly connected to Keychain, which stores passwords for all apps and even allows you to share passwords between them. I want Porthole to be able to use AirPlay passwords stored by iTunes, for example. The API for implementing this changed quite a bit between OS X 10.6 and 10.7+, but by wrapping MCSMKeychainItem and sskeychain this wasn’t too much of a problem.

You can now easily connect to all password protected speakers, use passwords stored in Keychain, or add new passwords straight from Porthole. Awesome!

Password Protected AirPlay Speakers

Other Minor Fixes

That’s about it for the manjor changes, fixes and updates. Apart from those I also made sure windows that are open (Preferences, License Window, Embedded Store) are pulled to the front when the menu bar icon is clicked, making it easier to see where they are.

The text on the buttons and menu items is more consistent, and the ellipsis make more sense now.

Stay tuned to see what’s up for the next update, follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

You can read more about Porthole on http://getporthole.com.