The Breakroom

Favicons. Finally.

June 7, 2018

By Craig Hockenberry

If you’re one of those people that got excited by Safari screenshots in macOS Mojave sporting favicons in tabs, we’ve got some good news: you can have them right now in the Safari Technology Preview. And you don’t even have to pronounce it fav-ah-con.

But there’s more to the new feature than you might think. Take a look at what appears on the Iconfactory home page in the latest Chrome and the Safari releases:

Why are the icons different? The answer lies in this one line of page markup:

<link rel="mask-icon" href="/favicon.svg" color="#990000">

We keep a favicon.ico file in the root of the website filesystem for compatibility with browsers that don’t support vector icons. But Safari knows that SVG will look better on a high resolution display, so it checks for a favicon.svg first.

Since favicons are an important branding element for a website, you’ll want to learn more about how this new format works. All the details are in our extensive tutorial. Enjoy!

Tips for Great Service

June 1, 2018

By Ged Maheux

Linea Sketch Tip Jar in version 2.1
With this week’s release of Linea Sketch, we added some important new features and improvements, but also something called a Tip Jar. You can open the Tip Jar from the Settings menu at any time, but you’ll probably only notice it when we deliver new features in the app. You’ll see an icon in the sidebar or a temporary banner at the bottom of the project view.

We designed these indicators to be unobtrusive, but still remind you that ongoing support of the app is needed. Since it’s an optional in-app purchase, you can contribute as often as you like or not at all. It’s all up to you.

We released a major update to Linea in March and made the update free so all customers would benefit from the new tools and features. We considered ways to charge for the update or change the sales model (to “freemium”, “paymium”, subscription, etc.) but none of them felt quite right for Linea. Instead, we decided that we would add a tip jar as a “pay what you want” upgrade.

So why would you want to spend more money on Linea if you don’t have to?

Because you want new functionality. The revenue generated from sales and tips all go to fund development in the app. As developers, our hope is the new tip jar will let us devote more time for improvements.

If we’ve learned one thing from working on Linea, it’s that people are passionate about their drawing apps. Software like Linea Sketch, Procreate, and others let us express our creativity and be productive. We develop a deep connection with these tools and are constantly looking for ways to incorporate them into our work. All of the Linea Sketch changes in the past year flow from a desire to improve the app for everyone.

We appreciate all the love users have shown for Linea and want to update the app for years to come. But our continued improvements depend on your continued support.

The next time Linea Sketch helps you visualize that complex design problem, or quickly jot down notes for an important meeting, or simply brings a smile to your face as you sketch your latest masterpiece, we’d appreciate it if you’d consider throwing a few coins in our tip jar.

Rest assured that we all thank you and will continue to give you great service!

Linea Sketch 2.1 – Color Is Key

May 29, 2018

By Ged Maheux

Linea Sketch v2.1 for iPad Hero Image

We love color. As any designer will tell you, color plays a critical part in the creative process. Every single day, artists use color to set a particular tone for a project, evoke emotions or reinforce a specific brand. We’re pleased to announce the way you use color in Linea Sketch for the iPad is getting even better. Today’s update extends and improves Linea’s already outstanding color support so that you can choose and manage colors with ease.

Custom Color Picker

Linea Sketch’s Custom Color Picker now offers more options including the ability to adjust the lightness or darkness of a color. It also lets you choose colors for your sketch via hex code or the new eyedropper tool. Choose any available custom color swatch to open the Color Picker. Then simply tap to activate the eyedropper and and use the loupe to track to the desired color on the canvas. When you release, the color along with all of its tints and shades are automatically added to the palette. It’s that easy.

Linea Sketch's new Color Picker

The new Color Picker keeps a running set of your most recent colors so you don’t have to worry about losing track of colors as you work. You can also revert to previous colors or completely remove a color from the palette. Tap any color in the recent list to quickly add it back to the main palette or experiment to find others you like.

Color Sets

From the beginning, Linea Sketch was designed to present colors in an elegant and compact way. Auto generation of tints and shades allowed for consistency across projects but was limited to just 3 color palettes. With today’s update, these three palettes can now be customized using the new Color Sets feature.

Tapping the icon at the top of the color palette lets you customize it and choose from a host of pre-defined sets. New color sets include pastels, art deco, flesh tones, and more. There’s even sets designed for specific use cases like app design and a fun set of familiar colors called “Dry Erase” we think you’ll love.

Choose from a range of pre-defined color sets like fleshtones, pastels and more

Want to forgo Linea’s default color palettes entirely? With the new Color Sets feature you can set all three banks to custom colors, providing the maximum number of custom color slots for your projects. Finally, the new Recent Color set gives you quicker access to the new eyedropper tool and extends the number of recent colors tracked in the Color Picker to its maximum.

New Templates

Linea Sketch now offers helpful productivity templates including a to-do list and calendar. We’ve also added a new category of templates called Web Design that includes several entries for responsive web design. These new templates are great for sketching layouts for both the web and mobile platforms simultaneously and are available in both portrait and landscape mode.

Additional improvements in Linea Sketch version 2.1 include lower latency when drawing with the pencil and pen tools, displaying the selected color in each tool’s size indicator and several important bug fixes. We’ve also added a way for fans to help contribute to ongoing development beyond their initial purchase with Linea’s new Tip Jar. Tipping is completely optional and is a great way to support our continued efforts to bring great new features to your favorite iPad sketching app. To contribute a tip, simply open the Settings view, tap Tip Jar, and choose your level of support. Thank you!

Linea Sketch is currently available from the App Store at 50% off. Current customers will be pleased to know that today’s update is FREE. No in-app purchases or subscriptions are required to get all the great new functionality in version 2.1. Be sure to check out the version history page for the complete list of what’s new in this release as well as the Tips & Tricks page for helpful tips to speed your work flow.

If you’ve been looking for a digital sketch pad that you can use without muss or fuss, Linea Sketch is the app your been waiting for. We can’t wait to see how it helps bring your ideas to life!

Updates Galore!

April 23, 2018

By Craig Hockenberry

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been giving all of our apps some attention. Rather than flood this blog with a bunch of posts about the updates, here’s a quick recap:

  • xScope 4.3.1 — Added a couple of frequently requested features and made sure that everything works great on macOS High Sierra.
  • iPulse 3.0.3 — A small update to address some issues displaying disk statistics with the new Apple File System (APFS).
  • Flare 2.2.6 — Fixed a few small UI issues on High Sierra and improved rendering performance on the latest macOS releases.
  • Take Five 1.2.3 — Updated our FREE utility for controlling iTunes so its window wouldn’t jump around on High Sierra.
  • Exify 1.2.1 — Fixed a problem with the sharing extension hiding controls when being called by some applications.

And last, but certainly not least, there are new versions of Twitterrific for both iOS and macOS. Last Friday’s update added support for attaching a photo or video when sending direct messages, improved keyboard support for messages, fixed a few bugs, and more!

To check out all our apps, head over to iconfactoryapps.com. Thanks!

Apps of a Feather

April 6, 2018

By Craig Hockenberry

If you use a third-party app, such as our own Twitterrific, upcoming changes at Twitter will significantly affect how you use the service.

An API that all apps use to receive a continuous stream of updates for push notifications and timeline refresh is going away. Twitter has not yet provided third-party developers with a replacement.

At this point, all we can do is raise awareness about what’s happening. To this end, third-party developers have joined together to explain the situation in more detail: please take a moment to visit the Apps of a Feather site.

For the past 11 years, we’ve worked hard to make a great experience for our customers. It’s not hyperbole to say Twitter is putting it all at risk on June 19th, 2018.

Ged Talks Linea Sketch on the iPad Pros Podcast

April 5, 2018

By Webmaster

iPad ProsCurious about how Linea Sketch came to be? Check out Episode 20 of the iPad Pros podcast to hear Ged talk about Linea Sketch’s past, present, and future.

When you’re done listening, find out more on the Linea Sketch website, and download Linea Sketch from the App Store.

Movies and Mutes and Muffles, Oh My!

March 27, 2018

By Sean Heber

Our latest releases of Twitterrific bring video uploading, support for Twitter’s native mute functionality, and powerful new muffling capabilities to both iOS and macOS.

It’s been a long time coming, but you can finally attach videos to tweets with Twitterrific! It couldn’t be easier – just tap the camera icon and pick a movie to attach. That’s all there is to it. Twitterrific takes care of transcoding the video for Twitter (if necessary) during the upload process, so you don’t have to worry about formats and bitrates – just make sure it’s 140 seconds or shorter.

On iOS, there are a couple of other new options for attaching media to your tweets. In addition to photos and links, our sharing extension now supports video, so you can share your favorite video clip directly from the Photos app without needing to open Twitterrific at all. If the image or video you want to tweet isn’t in your photo library, simply long-press on the camera icon in the compose window in Twitterrific to open a general purpose document picker. From here, you can navigate to anywhere on iCloud Drive or within other supported apps to find and attach the exact file you want.

Super Powered Muffles in Twitterrific

Twitterrific has long supported blocking users, but sometimes blocking someone is a bit more heavy-handed than you’d like. Muffling and muting was one of the ways that we addressed this situation, but where was no way to synchronize our rules with Twitter since they didn’t support anything like it. Eventually Twitter caught on and decided to implement their own basic muting feature, so we’ve integrated theirs with ours.

If you’ve created any muffle rules for users that you had switched to “mute” mode, Twitterrific will now migrate them by creating a Twitter mute for that user instead. This automatic migration only affects screen name muffle rules set to mute – all other muffle rules remain unaffected.

You can now easily mute a user from the actions menu on a tweet or on a user’s profile. This immediately mutes the user in Twitterrific as well as on twitter.com. Once a user is muted, their tweets disappear from your timelines in much the same way as when blocking a user. You also no longer receive push notifications from that user. To unmute a user, navigate to their profile and unmute from there. Muting a user does not unfollow them and the muted user has no way of knowing they’ve been muted.

Super Powered Muffles in Twitterrific

Muting tweets from a specific person is useful, but it lacks nuance. We decided to explore a few new ways of muffling tweets that give you more control when you want it. Sometimes you follow someone interesting that keeps retweeting the same uninteresting person over and over. With our new rules, you can muffle retweets from a specific person that retweets any other specific person. Or you could muffle all retweets of someone but not anyone else. Whatever you want! Likewise, there are new rules for muffling quoted tweets, tweets quoted by others, mentions of a specific person and more. In addition to these new ones, all of our other muffle rule types have also been extended so you can apply any given muffle rule to either everyone in your timeline, or just a specific person. To learn more about how these powerful new controls work, check out our knowledge base article.

This release may be packed full of new features, but we also squeezed in a few bug fixes, too. Check out the iOS and Mac release notes to see the full list. The download the updates from their respective App Stores. Enjoy!

Linea Sketch – New Features, Same Simplicity

March 20, 2018

By Webmaster

Linea Sketch v2 for iPad Hero Image

A little over a year ago we introduced Linea, an elegant yet powerful digital sketchbook for the iPad. Today we’re pleased to announce a major update that introduces a bevy of new features that users have been craving. These additions, along with some solid improvements, are all designed to make drawing on your iPad even easier, quicker and more enjoyable than ever. It’s like a whole new app, so we even changed the name!

Move/Transform Selections

Tap the new scissors icon in the Layers panel and draw a selection around any portion of your drawing. Linea Sketch automatically selects the content across all layers so you can move it, resize, or even rotate with simple gestures. Tap the Selection icon at the top of the screen for actions like copy, cut, duplicate, or flip. Selections are easily modified using the Add and Subtract buttons.

Linea Sketch's new Transform tool

That’s not even the best part: you can easily deactivate layers when selecting and only work with a part of your content. This works great when you have an inked outline and want to color it in different ways. Just lasso and uncheck the layer, duplicate it, and move the shape. You then have a copy that can be stylized with a background layer.

ZipLine

Create straight lines with ease. Simply draw a rough line with any of the tools and hold down when you reach the end. Linea Sketch automatically straightens the segment for you, eliminating the need for rulers.

Drawing quick and easy straight lines in Linea with ZipLine

You can also tap and hold at multiple points to quickly connect ZipLines and form complex polygons. To make this feature work best for you, there’s a setting to change how quickly it activates. Be sure to check out the new Tips & Tricks page for more info!

Image Import

Put some reality in your sketch by importing images from your camera, photo library, the clipboard, or even the Files app. Tap on one of your layers and select Import / Paste… to select a graphic. Then resize and rotate to place it perfectly. This feature works great when you want to reference a picture while drawing. Try adjusting the image opacity and tracing over it – helps when you’re doing callouts on screenshots, too.

Portrait Orientation and Split Screen

Linea Sketch now supports portrait orientation while you’re drawing or taking notes (yay!) New sketches are created using the iPad’s current orientation, but it can easily be changed by rotating the canvas 90° and closing. All of your favorite grids & templates have been updated for the new orientation, too.

Linea Sketch works great in portrait mode for note taking

Speaking of grids & templates, we’ve expanded the collection to include ruled pages for note taking, additional storyboarding templates, app design for the iPhone X, and a smaller dot grid.

Last, but not least, is support for split screen in iOS 11. Linea Sketch works great as a place to collect images and take notes while doing research on the web. With Safari on one side of the screen and your sketch on the other, it’s easy to jot down information and use Drag and Drop to capture reference images.

Split screen also works great if you use Linea with another drawing app like Procreate. Drag out of the Export view into the other app, or use Settings to enable dragging from selections. You can even Drag and Drop colors between apps!

To celebrate the launch of Linea Sketch you can get it from the App Store at 50% off. Current customers will be pleased to know that this huge update is FREE. No in-app purchases or subscriptions are required to get all the great new functionality in version 2.

If you’ve been looking for a digital sketch pad that you can use without muss or fuss, Linea Sketch is the app your been waiting for. We hope you’ll check it out — and we can’t wait to see how it helps bring your ideas to life!

A Lot Can Happen in a Decade

March 6, 2018

By Craig Hockenberry

Whether you’re a developer who’s working on mobile apps, or just someone enjoying the millions of apps available for your phone, today is a very special day. It’s the ten year anniversary of the original iPhone SDK.

I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that this release changed a lot of people’s lives. I know it changed mine and had a fundamental impact on this company’s business. So let’s take a moment and look back on what happened a decade ago.

There are a lot of links in this piece, many of which were difficult to resurrect on today’s web. Make sure you take the time to explore! I’ve also tried to avoid technical jargon, so even if you don’t know your Swift from a hole in the ground, you can still follow along.

Touching the Future

For many of us, holding that first iPhone at the end of June 2007 was a glimpse of the future. We all wanted to know what was inside the glass and metal sitting in our pockets.

Apple had told us what the device could do, but said very little about how it was done. We didn’t know anything about the processor or its speed, how much memory was available, or how you built apps. In many ways, this new device was a black, and silver, box.

As developers, we wanted to understand this device’s capabilities. We wanted to understand how our software design was about to change. We were curious and there was much to learn.

And learn we did. We called it Jailbreaking.

Breaking Out of Jail

Discoveries happened quickly. It took just a matter of weeks before the filesystem was exposed. A couple of months later, the entire native app experience was unlocked. Development toolchains were available and folks were writing installers for native apps.

The first iPhone app created outside of Apple.

This rapid progress was made possible thanks to the tools used to build the original iPhone. Apple relied on the same infrastructure as Mac OS. They chose a familiar environment to expedite their own development, but that same familiarity allowed those of us outside Cupertino to figure things out quickly.

Hello world.

For example, much of the software on the iPhone was created using Objective-C. Mac developers had long used a tool called class-dump to show the various pieces of an app and learn how things communicated with each other. After getting access to the first iPhone’s apps and frameworks, this software gave great insight into what Apple had written.

The most important piece was a new thing called UIKit. It contained all the user interface components, like buttons and table views. Since they were similar to the ones we’d used on the Mac, it took little effort to make items for taps and scrolling.

Another important piece of the puzzle was the operating system: Unix. This choice by Apple meant that a lot of open source software was immediately available on our iPhones. We could use it to build our apps, then copy them over to the phone, and, most likely, view the content of LatestCrash.plist in /var/logs/CrashReporter :-)

I distinctly remember the first time I got a shell prompt on my iPhone and used uname to see the system information. I was home.

Early App Development

I was not alone. Thousands of other developers were finding that the inside of this new device was just as magical as the outside. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that there was an explosion of iPhone app development.

One of the pivotal moments for the burgeoning community came at an independent developer conference called C4[1]. Held in August of 2007, many of the attendees had the new device and were discovering its capabilities. Most of us were also experienced Mac developers. We had just been to WWDC and heard Apple’s pitch for a “sweet solution”.

Amid this perfect storm, there was an “Iron Coder” competition for the “iPhone API”. The conference organizer, Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch, asked us to “be creative”. We were.

My own submission was a web app that implemented a graphing calculator in JavaScript. It epitomized what we all disliked about Apple’s proposal a few months earlier: a clunky user interface that ran slowly. Not the sandwich most of us were hoping for…



Video conferencing without a front-facing video camera.

On the other hand, the native apps blew us away. The winner of the contest was a video conferencing app written by Glen and Ken Aspeslagh. They built their own front-facing camera hardware and wrote something akin to FaceTime three years before Apple. An amazing achievement considering the first iPhone didn’t even have a video camera.

But for me, the app that came in second place was the shining example of what was to come. First, it was a game, and well, that’s worked out pretty well on mobile. But more importantly, it showed how great design and programming could take something from the physical world, make it work seamlessly on a touch screen, and significantly improve the overall experience.

Lucas Newman and Adam Betts created the Lights Off app a few days before C4. Afterwards, Lucas helped get me started with the Jailbreak tools, and at some point he gave me the source code so I could see how it worked. Luckily, I’m good at keeping backups and maintaining software: your iPhone X can still run that same code we all admired 10 years ago!



Lucas Newman presenting Lights Off at C4[1]. Photo: John Gruber

If you’re a developer who uses Xcode, get the project that’s available on GitHub. The project’s Jailbreak folder contains everything Lucas sent me. The Xcode project adapts that code so it can be built and run – no changes were made unless necessary. It’s much easier to get running than the original, but please don’t complain about the resolution not being 1-to-1 :-)

In the code you’ll see things like a root view controller that’s also an application delegate: remember that we were all learning how to write apps without any documentation. There’s also a complete lack of properties, storyboards, asset catalogs, and many other things we take for granted in our modern tools.

If you don’t have Xcode, you’re still in luck. Long-time “iPhone enthusiast” Steve Troughton-Smith sells an improved version on the App Store. I still love this game and play it frequently: its induction into iMore’s Hall of Fame is well deserved.

Now I was armed with tools and inspiration. What came next?

The Iconfactory’s First Apps

In June 2007, we had just released version 2.1 of our wildly popular Mac app for Twitter. It should have be pretty easy to move some Cocoa code from one platform to another, right?

The first version of Twitterrific on the iPhone. And pens. And slerp.

Not really. But I was learning a lot and having a blast!

The iPhone attracted coders of all kinds, including our own Sean Heber. In 2007, Sean was doing web development and didn’t know anything about Objective-C or programming for the Mac. But that didn’t stop him from poking around in the class-dump headers with the rest of us and writing his first app.

But he took it a step further with a goal to write an app for every day of November 2007 (inspired by his wife doing NaNoWriMo.) He called it iApp-a-Day and it was a hit in the Jailbreak community. The attention eventually landed him a position at Tapulous, alongside the talented folks responsible for the iPhone’s first hit franchise: Tap Tap Revenge.

Over the course of the month, Sean showed that the iPhone could be whatever the developer wanted it to be. Sure, it could play games, but it could also keep track of your budget, play a tune, or help you hang a painting.



Screenshots from Sean Heber’s iApp-a-Day.

Both Sean and I have archives of the apps we produced during this period. The code is admittedly terrible, but for us it represents something much greater. Reading it brings back fond memories of the halcyon days where we were experimenting with the future.

There were a lot of surprises in that early version of UIKit. It took forever to find the XML parser because it was buried in the OfficeImport framework. And some important stuff was completely missing: there was no way to return a floating point value with Objective-C.

There were also strange engineering decisions. You could put arbitrary HTML into a text view, which worked fine with simple tags like <b>, but crashed with more complex ones. Views also used LKLayer for compositing, which was kinda like the new Core Animation in Mac OS Leopard, but not the same. Tables also introduced a new concept called “cell reuse” which allowed for fast scrolling, but it was complex and unwieldy. And it would have been awesome to have view controllers like the ones just released for AppKit.

But that didn’t stop us from experimenting and learning what we could do. And then something happened: we stopped.

A Real SDK

Apple had worked their butts off to get the iPhone out the door. Those of us who were writing Jailbreak apps saw some warts in that first product, but they didn’t matter at all. Real artists ship. Only fools thought it sucked.

Everyone who’s shipped a product knows that the “Whew, we did it!” is quickly followed by a “What’s next?”

Maybe the answer to that question was influenced by all the Jailbreaking, or maybe the managers in Cupertino knew what they wanted before the launch. Either way, we were all thrilled when an official SDK was announced by Steve Jobs, a mere five months after release of the phone itself.

The iPhone SDK was promised for February of 2008, and given the size of the task, no one was disappointed when it slipped by just a few days. The release was accompanied by an event at the Town Hall theater.

Ten years ago today was the first time we learned about the Simulator and other changes in Xcode, new and exciting frameworks like Core Location and OpenGL, and a brand new App Store that would get our products into the hands of customers. Jason Snell transcribed the event for Macworld. There’s also a video.

Our Turn to Be Real Artists

Twitterrific’s design at the App Store launch.

After recovering from all the great news, developers everywhere started thinking about shipping. We didn’t know exactly how long we would have, but we knew we had to hustle.

In the end, we had about four months to get our apps ready. Thanks to what The Iconfactory learned during the Jailbreak era, we had a head start understanding design and development issues. But we still worked our butts off to build the first iPhone’s Twitter app.

Winning an Apple Design Award. Thank you. Photo: Steve Weller

Just before the launch of the App Store, Apple added new categories during its annual design awards ceremony. We were thrilled to win an ADA for our work on the iPhone.

How thrilled? The exclamation I used while downloading the new SDK was the same as getting to hold that silver cube.

After that, we were among the first apps to be featured in the App Store and ranked high in the early charts.

We knew we were a part of something big. Just not how big.

The Journey Continues

The second version of Twitterrific and some guy.

The Iconfactory’s first mobile app entered a store where there were hundreds of products. There are now over two million.

We now sell mobile apps for consumers and tools for the designers & developers who make them.

We now do design work for mobile apps at companies large, medium, and
small.

We now develop mobile apps for a select group of clients. (Get in touch if you’d like to be one of them.)

A lot can happen in a decade.

But one thing hasn’t changed. Our entire team is still proud to be a part of this vibrant ecosystem and of the contributions we make to it. Here’s to another decade!

Twitterrific for macOS: Getting More for Less

February 19, 2018

By Ged Maheux

Today’s latest release of Twitterrific for macOS includes new and important features for users with multiple Twitter accounts, adds verified & protected badges on avatars, incorporates a new font, and includes a range of bug fixes.

This past week also marks the anniversary of Project Phoenix, the Kickstarter project that was the catalyst for Twitterrific’s return to the desktop. To help celebrate, we’ve lowered the price from $19.99 USD to just $7.99, a savings of 60%. With today’s 5.2.4 update and a reduced price, there’s never been a better time to tweet your way from the Mac.

Multi-user actions in Twitterrific 5.2.4 for macOS

Users with more than one Twitter account now have several options which make tweeting and browsing your timeline even easier. When composing a tweet, click your avatar to select from any of your existing accounts and Twitterrific will post the tweet accordingly. In addition, you can now right-click on a tweet’s Reply, Quote, Retweet, or Like buttons to perform the action with any account. This makes it super easy to like a tweet on another account without having to switch over to it.

Twitter user avatar showing a verified badge on the lower right corner

User profiles have also been expanded to include lists of people followed as well as followers. Additionally, verified and private accounts now include a new badge on the avatar. These new badges can be turned off in the app’s Appearance preferences.

Finally, Twitterrific has added a new preference that allows streaming of tweets to be turned off. When this is unchecked, the timeline must be manually refreshed either via the Timeline menu or by pressing the keyboard shortcut (CMD-Shift-R.) Manual refreshing can be useful for viewing a noisy Twitter search or Voice Over users who have the timeline read aloud.

Other improvements include the addition of the Georgia serif font, tweaks to the layout of user profiles, a fix for URLs being copied incorrectly, and general performance improvements. Today’s update is recommended for all Twitterrific users. Be sure to check out the complete list of what’s new in Twitterrific 5.2.4 for macOS then download the update from the App Store. Enjoy!