Amidio have just posted a tweet saying they are aiming to get their ioLibrary module out for everyone today. I think this will be great if developers can get ioLibrary into their apps and so get music and audio apps all working together on the iPhone. It could make the platform really come alive and allow samples and loops become the building blocks of music production on the iPhone.

I wonder if MIDI would work with it too?

Amidio at the app store:
Amidio Inc.

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6 comments

  1. This is a significant move forward on Amidio's part in moving ioLibrary towards legitimacy. I applaud their intentions.

    However, as an independent iPhone music app developer I'm still quite concerned about the openness of the ioLibrary interface as well as the legal implications without that. As long as ioLibrary remains proprietary and Amidio is the sole gatekeeper there are real legal problems with its use in competitive products.

    I haven't found a lot of details publicly available, but as best I understand ioLibrary seems to be a binary library that one would link with ones application. Amidio seems to be the sole creator and owner of this library, its interface specification and its source code.

    Also linking a binary module without source code from your competitor into your program just doesn't seem like a great idea. Never mind any question of malice, just the fact that all software has bugs, and any bugs in the binary module would therefor be the responsibility of your competitor. That makes the basis for correct operation of an interface standard rather awkward.

    ioLibrary and/or its specification needs to be open source or controlled by an independent third party in order to gain true legitimacy and full legality.

    I invite the iPhone app developers, users and the press to chime in with their thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Richard Lawler

  2. Interesting views Richard. Do you think that the Sonoma approach will tempt more developers, or even if Amidio allowed ioLibrary to be open source?

    How would you feel if I used your comment as the body of a post tomorrow to get more developer views on the subject?

  3. As a user, I just want to be able to share my samples, loops and maybe midi etc. and not care about legal ramifications for developers. However as a former head of a development house for about a decade I had exactly the same thoughts as Richard when I first heard of the library. There were few things more scary than having our software dependent on someone elses binary libraries so we tended to avoid it where possible unless we had the source and a licence to modify it.

  4. I would love to see an open dialog on the subject of interoperability standards among iPhone music apps. Palm Sounds seems like a great forum to get that started.

    There are a number of legal and practical concerns around any solution where competitors are working together to create a mutually beneficial solution.

    – Is the solution verifiable as compliant with the terms of Apple's SDK license agreement and the App Store approval practices?

    – Is the solution legal with respect to US and other antitrust laws (a.k.a. competition law)? (Any time competitors enter into agreements for their mutual benefit this is a concern.)

    – What is the form of the interface? (i.e. proprietary binary, open source code, proprietary source code, open specification, proprietary specification etc.)

    – Who owns and controls the interface? Who owns the implementation of the interface? What are the terms of use?

    – As with all standards there needs to be accountability for compliance. How is that going to happen? Who will validate compliance with the standard? How will an end user know that the product will work?

    – Why would a developer put a competitor's binary code in their app without source code?

    – What do end users actually want and need?
    (CAF files. Really?)

    – Are the solutions practical? (e.g. WAV file export and import over the cell network is moving huge files (approx 10MB/min of music) and uses huge amounts of device power and network bandwidth. (An implementation might violate Apple's rumored 4.5MB/5 minutes maximum rule for cell network bandwidth use causing the app to be rejected from the App Store.)

    – Are the solutions properly licensed? For example, ZIP files and MP3 files may be covered by various patents. If some of the implementation's functionality may use patented functionality who would be responsible for the license and royalties? The library creator or library user?
    Are there any OSS licenses involved in the library that need to be disclosed?

    Creating standards is not easy. For better or worse the days of the wild west on the App Store are over. Apple will force compliance with laws and proper practices if only because they are a party (as an agent) in App Store sales transactions.

    These are just a few of the issues that come to mind. I'd like to see the discussion driven into the full light of day.

    Thanks,

    -Richard Lawler

  5. Alas, the Sonoma Wireworks' proposal doesn't address my concerns either.

    From their description of their MAPI partner program:

    “Terms of membership are negotiable. Contact marketing at sonomawireworks.com for more information. Sonoma Wire Works reserves the right to refuse any product.”
    http://www.sonomawireworks.com/iphone/partners/

    I find it a little hard to believe they are proposing a standard for interoperability (i.e. cooperation) among competitors and claiming they can reserve the right refuse any applicant. Wow!

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