The Breakroom

Twemoji Update Brings Mythical Beings & More

May 24, 2017

By Webmaster

Twitter Twemoji Unicode 10 examples - Zombie, Elf, Zebra and more

Twitter has updated their ever-expanding suite of custom emoji called Twemoji to include new entries that we helped create for social network’s website. This round of emoji were particularly fun to design since many of new items are centered around mythical beings such as wizards, elves and even zombies.

Other examples of the new Unicode 10 emoji include foods like the dumpling and pretzel, new animals like the zebra and hedgehog and new smilies like the exploding head and face vomiting. Twitter is among the first to publicly support these new emoji for its users.

The Iconfactory is pleased to be called upon to help Twitter bring these new additions to their social networking service. We’re also grateful to have the opportunity help craft the visual evolution of emoji in use around the world. We hope you enjoy exploring what’s new over at Emojipedia. You can also download the entire Twemoji suite via GitHub where all of Twitter’s emoji are available via an open source project or explore our previous Twitter emoji work over on our portfolio. Have fun emoji’ing!

Twitterrific 5.17 for iOS Brings Twitter’s New Reply Structure & More

April 28, 2017

By Ged Maheux

A reply showing the new structure of listing multiple recipients under the author name

Today’s update to Twitterrific for iOS brings some important changes to how replies and mentions are displayed in the timeline. Recently Twitter changed the interface guidelines for these kinds of tweets so that the characters in usernames would no longer count against the 140 total count when replying. In accordance with these new guidelines, Twitterrific now lists the recipients of a reply on the line directly under the Tweet author & specifies the total number of users in the reply chain. This new meta data can be tapped on (or previewed with 3D Touch) to open the conversation thread directly. We painstakingly designed the new replies so they were easy to spot when scanning the timeline. We also took care not to make tweets taller than necessary, we hope you like the results.

In addition, when composing a reply to one or many people, Twitterrific 5.17 now includes a new interface for choosing the recipients of the tweet. Unlike the official client’s implementation, Twitterrific’s allows you to quickly remove all extra people cc’d on the reply with a single tap or backspace. Once removed, you can also quickly re-add recipients back to the thread as a group as well as typing a new @username in the body of the tweet.

Twitterrific 5.17 also improves how quoted tweets are displayed, adds new keyboard commands to navigate direct message threads more easily, improves scrolling and auto complete performance of hashtags and usernames. Twitterrific 5.17 is free to try via the App Store and is universal for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and iPod touch. Advanced features such as tweet translation, ad removal, and more are available via in-app purchase. Visit Twitterrific’s version history page for the complete list of new features, improvements and bug fixes.

Talking Accessibility & Project Phoenix on the iAccess VO Podcast

April 10, 2017

By Webmaster

Our own Ged Maheux was a guest on the iAccessVO podcast recently to discuss accessibility in Twitterrific and the upcoming Project Phoenix for the Mac. Hosts Brian Fischler and Ed Plumacher’s podcast is a great resource for the blind and those with vision loss that answers questions about how to use VoiceOver on your iPhone, iPad and Mac. In episode 39 of iAccess, Ged talked about the current state of VoiceOver support in Twitterrific for iOS and our plans for accessibility support in the reboot of Twitterrific for Mac codenamed Phoenix. The Twitterrific section of the broadcast starts around the 24 minute mark, be sure to check it out!

Iconfactory’s Stickers Featured in New Apple Commercial

March 22, 2017

By Ged Maheux

Last week Apple released a new TV commercial touting stickers in iMessage. Two of the (many) stickers featured in the spot are from the Iconfactory’s very own Route 66 sticker pack we released late last year. The commercial takes a fun, energetic approach to the world of stickers and shows people running and slapping stickers on other folks as a real-life metaphor for how stickers are used in virtual chats.

You can see the two stickers (Chinese Food & Neon Hearts) from Route 66 that were included at the 0:29 and 0:50 marks respectively, just be quick with the pause button! We’re pleased Apple invited us to be included in Sticker Fight! along with so many other talented sticker artists. Apple has put together a promotional page on the App Store featuring all 50 sticker sets from the commercial. Be sure to check it out and visit our sticker home page to browse and download all of our fun sticker sets for Apple’s iMessage.

Project Phoenix’s Home Stretch

March 2, 2017

By Ged Maheux

Project popover showing the new

If you’ve been following Project Phoenix then you know we now have less than $8k to go before the Kickstarter is officially funded! Ollie is so excited he’s started to root around the forest floor for food. (He wants to bulk up his wing muscles.)

The Phoenix team got together this week to go over the design of a rough prototype Craig put together. We want to be ready when we cross the funding line so that beta 1 will be that much closer to showing up in backer’s inboxes. While the current prototype is non-functional, it has been helpful to visualize how the structure of a modern macOS Twitter app could work.

We’re using this prototype as a baseline to compare and contrast approaches to interacting with accounts, timelines, specific actions and more. Once we have that analysis in hand, we can use it to wireframe the final user experience of Twitterrific Phoenix for the Mac.

There’s much work awaiting us and the road to success will be riddled with unforeseen challenges, but we’re more confident than ever Phoenix has the potential to be the best, most exciting way to interact with Twitter on the desktop. The prospect of developing for the latest and greatest version of macOS, combined with all the elements that make Twitterrific easy to use has Ollie itching to leap out of his nest but we’re not there yet. With your help he’ll soar again, and when he does we’ll be ready to fly with him!

Linea Adds Tilt Support for Apple Pencil & More

February 24, 2017

By Ged Maheux

Linea portrait of Motoko by David A. Brasgalla

Today we’re pleased to announce an important update to Linea, our new simplified sketching application for the iPad. Version 1.0.2 adds several awesome new features, chief among them is tilt support for the Apple Pencil while drawing with any of the tools, including the eraser. By tilting the pencil towards the drawing surface, you can achieve some stunning results. Here’s a quick rundown of how tilt support affects each of Linea’s tools:

  • Technical Pencil – A smooth, faded stroke along the edge of hard lead
  • Art Pencil – Soft, wide shading that varies with both size settings & pressure
  • Pen – Flat nib great for hard edges or calligraphic writing
  • Marker – Wide flat stroke perfect for coloring large areas of the screen
  • Eraser – Flat oval instead of a round tip for erasing

Linea pencil strokes

We’ve worked hard to make Linea’s tilt support work as well as (or better than) Apple Notes and we hope you’ll be pleased with the results. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or an aspiring novice, you’ll find drawing and shading in Linea is both fun and inspiring.

Project popover showing the new

The new version also adds several other important improvements such as the ability to move sketches from one project folder to another. Simply long-press on a drawing in the Project view and tap Move… to re-assign it to a different folder or select multiple drawings and move them all at once.

You can also create a new sketch directly from within the canvas without having to leave your current drawing. Just tap the More Actions icon (…) at the upper left of the canvas and then tap New Sketch. This action creates a new, blank canvas that is preset with your current grid and background settings. It’s very handy when storyboarding or doing interface work!

Other improvements include hexagonal grid templates and the ability to double-tap the eraser as a shortcut to clear the current layer.

Finally, Linea now has a presentation mode that can be used with AirPlay in Control Center or a Lightning-to-HDMI adapter. This lets you display the current sketch full screen without tool palettes, zoom, and rotation. It’s perfect for showing off your work or for educators in the classroom.

We invite you to download Linea 1.0.2 for the iPad today and explore the creative possibilities of sketching simply. Enjoy!

Twitterrific for Mac: Project Phoenix

February 14, 2017

By Sean Heber

Ollie as a burning Phoenix with the Project Phoenix logo

We’ve been missing Twitterrific on our Macs for a long time and we know we’re not alone. Today we’re announcing a plan to bring it back: Project Phoenix.

After much consideration, we decided that the best way forward was to go back to the beginning. Rather than bending the long-neglected Twitterrific for Mac into a new shape, we will borrow what we can from iOS and use it to build a modern new macOS app.

To achieve such a large undertaking in a reasonable timeframe, we’ll start small: Our goal is to deliver a minimal Twitter client much like the original Twitterrific for Mac, but with a feature set that fits how we use Twitter in 2017 instead of how we thought we wanted to use it back in 2007.

We’re confident that we can do this, but we need your help! Please check out our Kickstarter page, watch the video and study the plan. There are many different funding levels including regular access to beta builds all through Phoenix’s lifespan. If you’re the kind of person who loves to see software evolve through it’s development, or just want to start using a new Twitterrific on your desktop sooner rather than later, this one is for you.

This is our first Kickstarter project and a new way for us to fund our software development. The main reason the Mac app languished is because we aren’t sure that there’s a market for a desktop social networking product (it’s easy to make a case that all our social activities have moved to mobile.) For our small software company, the risk of recouping development costs was just too high. Kickstarter removes this unpredictability and gives us an exact budget to work against.

Together, we can make a new Twitterrific for Mac a reality. Make a pledge, and with luck, we can get started soon!

Linea in the Wild

February 2, 2017

By Webmaster

We’ve been floored by the overwhelming response to Linea, our new sketching app for the iPad. Reviews from across the web have been wonderful, but even better than all the positive feedback is seeing what people have been creating with it.

Artists such as Eric Merced, Audra Furuichi and Fredo Houben have been posting some amazing drawings and sketches that show what can be done when you have the right set of tools in front of you. We’ve started an Instagram account to showcase what people have been creating, from professional artists, to hobbyists, to people who just love to doodle. Check out Linea on Instagram to take a look.

One of the highlights for us this week is Serenity Caldwell’s animated review of Linea she created for iMore. Serenity sketches her way through the Linea interface, giving a grand tour of Linea’s powerful simplicity. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but Serenity’s incredible review left us speechless.

Download Linea for the iPad today from the App Store.

Introducing Linea

January 31, 2017

By Webmaster

Iconfactory's Linea sketching app for iPad

There are plenty of great drawing apps for the iPad that can produce polished and stunning work. Like you, we use and love them.

So why did we make our own drawing app?

Less is more

While other apps can help you create amazing artwork, they’re not great for the simple act of sketching. Extensive controls are useful when you’re trying to fine tune a piece, but they also get in the way when you’re trying to figure out where to start.

Linea color palette showing auto-generated tints & shades

Something similar has happened with writing apps over the past few years: folks have realized that powerful word processing apps can get in the way of making great words. When you remove the controls and complexity, you end up with a more productive writing environment.

With Linea, we’ve done the same thing for sketching. You’ll have everything you need to record your visual ideas, and nothing more. Linea auto-generates tints and shades so you don’t have to waste time mixing & matching colors. It also provides the power and flexibility of layers but in a simplified form that’s easy to understand and quick to manipulate. The entire app is designed so you can focus on the work, not on the tools.

Digital sketching

Once you start using Linea, you’ll realize that it has a great advantage over a traditional sketchbook.

Sketches are just a beginning: you’ll discuss them with clients in email, show them to colleagues in Slack, upload them to project folders on Dropbox, or use them with Photoshop as a background layer. With a traditional sketchbook, you have to scan the paper first.

Linea crop & export interface

In Linea, you bring up an export sheet that lets you select which part of your drawing you’d like to share. Then you use the standard iOS sharing panel to pick where the images will go: it’s quick and easy, which is essential when you’re iterating on a design.

Another benefit to a digital sketchbook is not being stuck with a predefined grid. Linea lets you choose what’s right for each sketch: it includes standard graph paper, dots, and even isometric guides. Templates for quick storyboarding or app design and development are just a few taps away.

Not just for artists

We originally created this app as a tool for our artists, but our developers love it, too!

a finger swiping to erase a drawing in Linea

Anyone who’s worked at a whiteboard knows that it’s a great place to experiment with ideas. Being able to quickly get rid of mistakes is just as important as capturing a thought. You know your fingers will be dirty at the end of a good session.

Linea’s innovative Touch Eraser works the same way. There’s no switching of tools, just a quick swipe of the finger and then you’re back to drawing with your Apple Pencil. And the best part is your hands stay clean!

This is just one example of how we’ve thought about the process as much as the implementation. Linea’s gestures make it the perfect companion when you need to take notes, diagram, or sketch.

If you’re ready to start sketching simply, the Linea web site has videos of the app in action and samples showing all the ways Linea can help you visualize your thoughts and creations. Have more questions? Be sure to visit the Linea Knowledge Base for answers and then head to the App Store to download Linea for the iPad today.

2016 Wasn’t All Bad

December 16, 2016

By Webmaster

Animation of snow falling behind an dangling red Iconfactory Christmas ornament

It’s been a hell of a year, no matter how you look at it. Luckily, it hasn’t been all bad and we’ve done some great things at the Iconfactory over the past 12 months!

You might be tempted to call this the Year of Emoji, but to us, every year is the Year of Emoji. We started off 2016 with a major update to Twitter’s open source Emoji suite: Twemoji. That was soon followed by complete visual refresh for the Emoji used in Facebook’s Messenger app. To finish out the year, there were Twemoji updates for Unicode 9 and gendered occupations. In summary, that’s 3,396 images to give your favorite messages more personality!

And speaking of Twitter, our terrific app got a lot of love this year. Every couple of months there were updates for direct messaging, timeline search, discussions and retweeting, replies and today view, quoting and new fonts, and a great new feature called Center Stage. We were also thrilled to be inducted into the AppleVis Hall-of-Fame for our VoiceOver work in Twitterrific.

This year was also a big milestone for us: it was our 20th year as a company! Our retrospective was a great reminder of how far we’ve come over the years. And we couldn’t have done it without you (don’t worry, we’re not going to blame you for the gray hairs).

The celebrations also included two new apps for iOS: Exify and BitCam. Both celebrated the fantastic camera we all carry in our pockets: one was modern, and the other, well, it wasn’t.

Every good party ends with cake, and ours was no exception. Our beloved foreman got the chance to combine his two favorite things: cooking and smileys. We were all thrilled to watch Ged judge the Emoji episode of the Food Network’s Cake Wars.

After we recovered from all this merriment and sugar shock it was time to head back to our roots: creating images that were just plain fun to use! We used to call them custom icons, but now they’re Stickers. If you haven’t tried them out yet, get with it!

We also talked more about our business this year. We shared our recipe for launching successful apps, how to use Stickers for brand awareness, and what it takes to build meaningful experiences in products.

Our last release of the year was something completely different: a book on color. The most basic part of our work has been changing thanks to improvement in display technologies. This affects both our client work and the apps we build. Craig’s effort takes a difficult topic and makes it accessible: check it out!

As we begin our annual holiday break, we’d like to wish all of you the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store and we hope you’ll join us as we move forward. Always remember there can be good things in this world if you work hard to make them a reality.