Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Rogue Amoeba’s apps updated for M1–with a catch

I love Rogue Amoeba’s audio apps and rely on them every day. Audio Hijack is the best. Loopback is a vital tool when I’m streaming video live.

This year, though, Apple made some major changes to how audio on macOS is handled, and that required major changes to ACE, the engine that enables most of Rogue Amoeba’s apps. The company managed to get versions supporting Big Sur out just before the official release of the operating system, and today it posted beta versions that work with M1 Macs.

There is one big caveat, however, and it’s all down to Apple’s increased focus on security. To install an app like ACE, which requires a system extension to function in Big Sur, you have to reboot. That’s not great—rebooting to install software feels very 1990s to me—but at least it’s palatable.

On M1 Macs, though, the situation intensifies. Before you can reboot to enable ACE, you first have to reboot into Recovery Mode in order to tell the system to allow extensions. Then you have to change a setting from “Full Security” to “Reduced Security,” and check a box allowing kernel extensions from identified developers. (ACE isn’t actually a kernel extension, but… the box must still be checked.)

The good news for Rogue Amoeba’s customers is that their stuff works, and once you do the reboot two-step, you shouldn’t need to do it again. It’s a multi-step process, but it’s over fast and then you can get on with your work.

But it really shouldn’t work this way, and that’s on Apple. One reboot is bad, but two is ridiculous. Surely there’s a way, at the very least, to pre-approve an extension before rebooting to adjust the security setting? I know that Apple is trying to protect users from bad actors, but when a list of instructions like these are required to install Mac software, something’s really gone wrong.

But at least Rogue Amoeba’s apps are now available. They’re indispensible. If I had to choose between upgrading my Mac or continuing to use Audio Hijack, I would choose Audio Hijack every time1.

  1. I’ve been using a Mac mini running macOS Mojave to record all my podcasts since I started using the Big Sur beta this summer. It’s uncomfortable to have a Mac without Audio Hijack installed. 

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